The Cyberbrains

Research and contemplation in new media

A new “vision” for Web news

Jeremy LittauI stumbled across something new when browsing for news on Google. Well, not new, just new for the news business.

We’ve been talking for a while in the academy about how the Web brings usability to those who are disabled. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen in in practice until last week when I was browsing the Casper Star-Tribune, which is based in Wyoming.

Each story has a link across the bottom that allows you to download an ASCII file for that story. This would allow a blind reader to use the file to have their computer convert it into Braille. I’ve seen a few other publications incorporate the technology, but I’ve never seen one make it so accessible to each story. Usually you have dig for it, if it’s there at all.

This of course raises some questions about how usable is what even Casper has. While it’s good that the links are there for each page, it appears to be set up in a way that a person who can see still must download the file for a person with impaired vision. I couldn’t find a place to subscribe to a type of Braille feed for the site.

Presumably this is a first step, but it’s a good one. Why do we have to go online to papers in Wyoming, where there is less broadband access and technology penetration, to find such things. It would seem that newspapers, which traditionally assert they are a public service, would find the people and wherewithal to refine this system so that people with impaired vision can become news consumers again.

May 29, 2007 - Posted by | Jeremy Littau

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