Guest Blogging: Accessibility

Editor’s Note: James is our guest blogger today. He’s an IT professional who has a lot to say on a topic I take for granted – accessibility. We still have a long way to go in terms of handicap accessibility, such as page-reading technology.

Intro

Have you ever wanted that technology jargon explained in simple terms? Ever wonder why technology moves so fast and what is buried in those terms no one understands? Why no one draws parallels from one technology to another? Yeah, so do I. Ever wonder how exactly you get all that spam, why your information procreates quickly and whatever happened to your eyes and ability to read a web page? Most importantly how we got here? I’ll find out and explain concepts in plain English.

My name is James and I have partnered with the Teknosophy blog to help you wade through the mess that is computing, discuss the social, educational, regulatory, and down right closing of opportunity. I have spent the better part of my IT career advocating for better educational accessibility, usability and design standards that include all people. I have worked on web design that integrates with assistive technologies as well as ADA 504 and 508 compliance. I have been a frequent presenter on the topics of education and technology in the classroom, technology and security, technology and how its exclusion of people as well as inclusion.

My mission is to help organizations advance their message by making intelligent decisions, in the area of compliance and usability while it is still cost effective. Creating a preventative IT solution instead of a reactive and costly solution.

ARTICLE 1: What is accessibility in technology?

What is accessibility in technology? To many this means having access to large amounts of information all the time, or as Burger King puts “have it your way.”  Just because you can have it on any device any time your way does not mean information is accessible it just means it’s available.  We have come up with ways to make information deliverable in fast, mobile and most of all cool ways.  The information is neither engaging nor accessible.  The true measure of accessibility is usability and engagement.  Can a person use the information and do they get something from the information.  As of now these two things are not occurring; many people still struggle to have their PDF files read by assistive technology; assistive technology still lags behind in mobile devices.  Developers lack in the necessary skills to integrate true accessibility and the developers cob together application in the hopes of making something interesting.

ARTICLE 2: When purchasing a computer, how do you think of your computer?

When people go out to buy a computer they buy based on marketing deception:

–        The looks of the machine

–        Weight of the machine

–        What color can I get in?

–        How fast is it?

–        How big is the hard drive?

–        Size of the monitor?

When buying a car or hiring an electrician we often ask for a person’s qualifications, however, when we buy a computer we never ask that question.  We accept that they know what they’re talking about and more on.  Too many assume everyone knows everything just because they use a computer.  Just because you use it does not mean you know how to use it.  There is more to the computer purchase then the above list.  The inner workings of the machine and how the operating system interacts with the hardware is important.  How much space the operating system takes up on the hard drive?  What the graphics card is and the speed of the processor.  The understanding of the pixel ratio for your display is also critical.  This allows you to get the best image for your money.  

Do you consider your computer like an appliance?

–        How much heat does the machine create?

–        How much electricity does it use in a year?

–        Where and how do I discard the old machine once I purchase this one?

–        What can I do to make sure my data is securely destroyed?  

When shopping for a computer assess your needs first.  Second project how long you intend to keep the computer, with good maintenance and understanding of what you install one can keep a computer a long time.  Third and most important come to the store with a budget in mind. Do not allow someone to over sell you a computer that you will not need. This is especially true in the area of software.  Too many times people walk out of the store with a computer with more hardware then they will ever need and software packages they will never maximize.  They will be buying software just because it sounds fancy with the promise of learning it or because they may edit a few family photos.  A computer is not a game console either.  A computer is a machine that needs skill and in depth understanding on how to use it and build it and maintain it.

 

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