PHOTO: Screen shot of an Internet Explorer browser displaying a very short, one-page article that is virtually unprintable because it overrides the Internet Explorer browser's capability to select a portion of the page and do a print preview of the selection before printing it out to check how many pages it will print out. More and more pages seem to have this defect, including overriding text wrapping so that it gets cut off on the sides unless it is shrunk down to an unreadable size, but even worse, this page has a so-called "print" button, which instead of going to a printable page, where the user can do a print preview as normal, it overrides everything and immediately starts printing out 25 pages of crap, which is unacceptable because this article is only one-page long. I recall in the early days of the Web, Hewlett-Packard literally had to donate software engineers to Microsoft to make sure the HP printer drivers and functions worked correctly. An HP Vice President saw the danger to his business, and called Bill Gates, to tell him the danger if software prevented easy printing by users. I am sure incompetence is the major reason printing World Wide Web pages is so hard to do, especially because only the MS IE Web browser does a good job compared to the other browsers, such as Netscape, Mozilla, Firefox, etc. Although another reason is one I've heard from many software writers who sincerely believe printing should be banned for environmental reasons because it is not need in today's cloud based computing. (See the article by Mark Anderson, "Inside the World's First Braille Cellphone, Bringing Smartphone Capabilities to India's Blind," IEEE Spectrum, NA, p. 25 spectrum.ieee.org)
The numerical keypad has Braille markings for each of the numbers. Users can enter Braille letters, which are formed from a three-by-two grid, by pressing six keys on the keypad in the shape of each letter. A simple and uncluttered design is especially significant for this phone's users, says Sumit Dagar in the above pictured article. "It has bigger buttons and more reference lines," he says, and "a bigger volume rocker on the side that makes it easier to identify." The first-generation Braille phone will have some typical Smartphone features such as a music player, an e-mail client, a calendar, and even GPS navigation. But because the CPU has to power only a 10-character display, it doesn't need to be a typical Smartphone CPU, keeping the (yet to be announced) price low. "Anybody who can afford a phone can afford this phone," Dagar says.
Also mentioned in the article by Mark Anderson, "Inside the World's First Braille Cellphone, Bringing Smartphone Capabilities to India's Blind," IEEE Spectrum, NA, p. 25 spectrum.ieee.org are the following links:
- Kriyate kriyate.org website was started by
- Entrepreneur Sumit Dagar twitter.com/dagar
- world's first Braille cell phone nabindia.org press release, accessed 2013
- Apple's VoiceOver accessibility function -- note that voice is nice, but slow and low vision blind users can read more if text size and contrast are provided -- oftentimes today the only way to get this is in a printable page screen that has only simple text intended for a computer printer output.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering's professional engineering newsmagazine article by Mark Anderson, "Inside the World's First Braille Cellphone, Bringing Smartphone Capabilities to India's Blind," IEEE Spectrum, NA, p. 25 spectrum.ieee.org, recently reported the invention of a Smartphone for the blind, which caught my attention due to the warmhearted memories I have of teaching my grandmother to read Braille when she went blind. I found it much easier to read Braille as a fully sighted person than using only a finger.
However, a much larger number of people suffer from what is called low vision blindness, a very common disability that often only requires larger text sizes or higher contrast black and white text.
The ability of computer screens to provide low vision users more control over text size or contrast was not practical until a few decades ago. When Hewlett-Packard in Corvallis designed and built one of the first of these bit-mapped computer displays, circa 1980, I attended an international computer standards committee to champion its use to provide better computer accessibility to all.
Century old telegraph communication standards predating computers, such as ASCII text, are still being supported by the latest computer internet browsers to provide better accessibility at virtually no extra cost, provided accessibility is designed in from the start.
Unfortunately, design for accessibility seems to have waxed and waned over the years, often overlooked by uneducated or inexperienced computer interface designers who find it too hard to correct their work, after they realize their mistake, especially when they are under pressure of a business manager's deadline.
More rarely, I've seen uncompassionate computer designers or "Dilbert bosses" intentionally ignore accessibility issues.
Everybody should be considering accessibility, even in the real world of non-computer situations. There is no excuse to provide it today given the power of computers.