Archive for March, 2007

Resolution Independence in Leopard & Vista

This accompanies a new article on the main bltt site.

Resolution Independence sounds like a complex term but its introduction could make computers significantly more accessible to many people with a variety of disabilities.

It allows text and graphical elements to be easily resized without affecting the layout or clarity of the items. This means that elements can be made larger and therefore accessible to people with visual impairment. Large items, such as buttons, icons and menus, are also easier for people with physical difficulties to target using their trackball, joystick or other pointing device. Many people with learning difficulties also find less cluttered displays with larger elements easier to understand.

Windows Vista includes a graphics engine that supports Resolution Independence but Windows itself is still (mostly) tied to the pixel grid.

The forthcoming Apple OS X 10.5 Leopard is to include resolution independence and, apparantly, will use it. Release date is rumoured to be around Spring 2007.

Read further information on Resolution Independence on the bltt.org site.

Add comment March 30th, 2007

Fix Inaccessible PDFs

I’ve added a new tutorial on the bltt website.

Some poorly-authored PDF files contain text only as an image which is not accessible to a screenreader or other text-to-speech software such as PDF Aloud or ReadPlease. Inaccessible PDFs are read aloud in the wrong order or, more commonly, random characters, letters and symbols are spoken that reflect nothing of the original.

You can fix these PDFs using Optical Character Recognition without needing to print out and re-scan it.

Add comment March 20th, 2007

Bye Bye BBC Jam

BBC Jam LogoBBC Jam is a free online interactive learning service that was launched in January 2006 and has since become highly successful in homes and classrooms across the UK. Unfortunately it has been deemed too sucessful and will be wholly withdrawn for fear of upsetting commerical companies in the same sector.

BBC Jam is particularly accessible for students with special educational needs. These needs are currently mostly ignored by most other similar products that are commerically available.

The Field Studies for people with Learning Difficulties are particularly noteworthy as it uses a range of multimedia and motivating exploratory activities to introduce environments such as the town and countryside. These activities are single- and two-switch accessible. The entire site can be speech supported making it accessible for people with visual impairment or reading difficulties such as dyslexia and has subtitles available for people with hearing impairment.

I don’t think the software companies are doing too badly. The BBC were ordered to spend £45 million of Jam’s £150 million budget on buying content from 3rd parties and in addition to this the government recently effectively subsidised the commercial sector £200 million through the eLearning Credits scheme. The complaints against the service are understandable – especially from fledgling companies – I just hope that they start providing more inclusive solutions.

BBC Jam: www.bbc.co.uk/jam

1 comment March 18th, 2007

Free Information Days

From Inclusive Technology:

With a theme of ‘The Inclusive Classroom’, these practice focused CPD days will explore how ICT and assistive technology can be meaningfully embedded into the wider school curriculum. Led by Information Director Roger Bates and supported by former ICT in Practice Award winner Ian Bean together with assistive technology specialist Fil McIntyre, these days will share examples of good practice from around the world, exemplifying many of the ideas presented in our soon to be released Inclusive Assistive Technology Resource Guide.

The 2007 programme consists of:

  • Developing access skills
  • Making Meaningful Choices
  • Communicators and Communication
  • ICT and Early Years
  • Creativity and the Curriculum

The scheduled dates are:

  • Leeds 14/3/07
  • Cardiff 19/4/07
  • Belfast 30/4/07
  • Birmingham 16/5/07
  • London 6/6/07

Inclusive Information Days are free to attend but demand is always high so booking is essential. To book your place contact Hannah on 01457 819790 or email hannah@inclusive.co.uk.

Add comment March 2nd, 2007

Sign-up for Better Technology Nationwide

I urge all UK citizens involved with assistive technology to sign up to Simon Judge’s petition on the Number 10 website.

You will be petitioning the Prime Minister to support Assistive Technology services that provide access to fundamental human rights for some people with disabilities.

This comes in the aftermath of the Communication Aids Project (CAP) where millions of pounds were available to education and health services but which was renewed.

For further details and to sign the petition go to:

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/SupportAT/

Add comment March 1st, 2007


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