General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Is there a digital braille?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10266points) May 16th, 2010

Do blind people have a digital braille that makes scrolling over digital media simple if they don’t want to have it read aloud?

If you are going to say it is just fine for them to hear it out loud, then what if you are blind and deaf?

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8 Answers

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dpworkin's avatar

There are screen readers which do a complex and OS-specific text-to-speech indication of what is on the screen and where. One is called Window Eyes, another is known as JAWS. You may wish to Google their web sites if you are curious about exactly how they work.

dpworkin's avatar

There is such a thing as a braille computer interface which will represent text by raising pins to emulate braille, but they are not used to interpret a Graphical User Interface.

jaytkay's avatar

US Federal agencies have standards for making digital media accessible. It’s called Section 508 compliance after the law mandating accessibility. Part of that is designing web pages with a defined order a screen reader can follow, and giving images text descriptions. And PDFs must have “tags”, defining the order in which to read things.

To get an idea of what it takes, here is a Health and Human Services (HHS) page Testing Documents for Section 508 Compliance

dpworkin's avatar

@jaytkay Those standards are widely ignored because they are time consuming, and unless a business is large enough to be sued under the ADA they don’t care to pay their coders to take the extra steps.

jaytkay's avatar

@dpworkin Businesses don’t have to be 508 compliant. Federal agencies do.

andrew's avatar

FWIW, those same technologies that make webpages accessible to screen readers also make them very digestible by Google, so when we redesigned Fluther in 2007 we made sure to make it JAWS compatible. I’m not sure how well we’re doing any more.

I also used to work at a software company that made hardware and software for people with physical and learning disabilities.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@dpworkin, it’s not a matter of caring to pay their coders to take extra steps. The company I work for is in the midst of making our web pages Section 508 compliant because we have Medicare business. The volume of content to make compliant, in both English and Spanish, is daunting. The really difficult part, however, is staying on top of the maintenance of the content. It’s not just coders, it’s content management and compliance management resources. Section 508 also assists in health literacy issues, which are also important to our company. The implementation logistics are a nightmare, however, and even for a large company, the cost is prohibitive. Add to that, the CMS model language can change on the drop of a dime, and you very often have to redo all of your materials last minute.

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