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An Apology

My last entry on this blog was in May (2008). When I first created this blog I decided I really didn’t want it to become one of those forgotten-about blogs gathering cobwebs in the corner of the Internet. Woops.

Unfortunately I’ve been somewhat busy and – same old story- have been finding it difficult to find the time to add content. It’s not because I haven’t got content to add, either. I’m still assessing and training and coming up with fresh new ideas. Incidentally I’m available for assessments and training in the southern area – contact me if you’re interested!

In addition to my rather busy work schedule I’m also completing a full time degree in Occupational Therapy which I feel is adding a significant amount to the professioniam and effectiveness of my AT work. Unfortunately this and the locality of several good pubs has resulted in a lack of updates for this blog and the main BLTT website.

There are plans to take things forward. The main BLTT site receives a surprisingly high number of visitors: 11,454 unique visitors in October 2008 compared to 5,492 in October 2007. The page reading depth isn’t so impressive which is why I really want to improve the site’s layout and navigation. I also want two parallel text options – the first using technical jargon aimed at clinicians and the other using a simpler language for the majority of the people using the technology. The new site will be database-driven so language style can be changed on the fly. In addition I’m planning on making videos and really want some interesting case studies.

Hopefully it won’t be another six months before my next posting. And keep an eye on as I really want to make something good of it. Gotta just finish that essay first (and that pint)…

Charlie Danger

1 comment November 28th, 2008

Switch access and the Internet

Grrr… I’ll try and keep this short. I’m annoyed by something and it may be unjustified so please let me know if I’m missing something.

Jelly bean switchLots of switch users want to be able to access the Internet, right? The number of potential meaningful activities out there is enourmous and the very popular BBC iPlayer (as well as the ITV and C4 equivalents) should be able to offer TV on-demand to switch users as well as anyone else. But there’s a problem.

I generally see three recurring problems when attempting to access the Internet using one or more switches:

The first is the sheer number of links on a page that need to be scanned through. This can often be fixed by creating a ‘Scan 5 Links’ button (which I generally always do using The Grid 2) or by convincing the webmasters to build pages with less links (I’ll let you try that one).

Tabbing highlight screenshotThe second major problem is the focus highlight as the tab moves around the web document. It’s almost impossible to see. Now you can use a User Style Sheet but these do not work properly for Internet Explorer 7 on many websites (including the BBC iPlayer). The user styles work beautifully in Firefox as can be seen in this screenshot. The yellow block is the moving highlight caused by a local userContent style sheet.

Unfortunately Firefox won’t allow a switch user to access Flash elements. The tab key just skips straight past unless a mouse is used to select the element first. This is a pretty significant flaw as it prohibits switch users from accessing video content on YouTube, iPlayer and pretty much everywhere else.

We’re left with the option of having an easy-to-follow tabbing focus highlight OR access to video content. Not both. Please fix it.

3 comments May 30th, 2008

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:

Add comment March 1st, 2007

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