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Accessibility for Opening the World

Yesterday I participated in a workshop of the Swiss federal administration on accessibility and usability for the websites of the Swiss government. Until the end of 2006 all websites of the federal administration have to correspond to accessibility guidelines (see my post on web accessibility – overcoming obstacles).

The workshop was conducted by two persons of the foundation Access for All, one of them being a person who is blind since birth and is a specialist for accessibility testing. He intruduced us into the way handicapped people, especially blind persons, work with the internet as a window to the world. He had a bluetooth Braille keybord and a screenreader software. He gave us several examples of how obstacles for the blind can be overcome by better naming of links or by creating an easy-to-navigate website. He also showed us an extract of a “hearing film” – from a know cinema, where all action was being described, including the scenes. But he also described about the many ways there are created obstructions even by good-meaning people.
Fascinating how with a good will and creative know-how handicapped people can be helped to be partners in the world which is mainly being shaped by the majority having a relatively free command of their senses and bodies. It needs a sensitivity to open up to the world of people with another way of living side by side.

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