[bct] Fw: Feed Readers

  • From: "Lynnette" <superlynne@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2005 17:00:34 -0400

Here's a timely, interesting, informative article.

Subject: Feed Readers: Not Satisfying the Appetites of BlindComputer Users
U.S. Newswire
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Feed Readers: Not Satisfying the Appetites of Blind Computer Users
AFB Evaluates One of the Hottest Trends in Internet Technology
NEW YORK, Oct. 12 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Getting news and blog updates through
RSS (Really Simple
Syndication) feeds is all the rage in the online world. But how easy is it
for people with vision loss to use feed reader technology-programs that check 
for, download, and organize new content, delivered through RSS, from blogs and 
news sites? According to a new report from the American Foundation for the 
Blind (AFB) finding accessible RSS readers can be challenging for computer users
with vision loss.
"The blogosphere is still foreign to many web users, but it can be particularly 
confusing for blind computer users because several of the blogging sites and 
tools are inaccessible," said Jay Leventhal, editor of AccessWorld(r), AFB's 
online technology magazine. "AFB
hopes to help people with vision loss navigate this world with ease by 
identifying screen
reader-friendly services and by working with bloggers and technology companies 
to ensure their sites can be used by everyone."
Using a JAWS screen reader -- an assistive technology product that reads the
text and images on a computer screen -- AFB evaluated five popular RSS readers: 
Bloglines, Feedster, NewsGator, FeedDemon and My Yahoo!.
Of the five sites reviewed, AFB found Bloglines and NewsGator to be the most
screen reader-friendly. Overall, AFB found the Bloglines interface intuitive 
and the site well
labeled and screen reader-friendly. Users can create an account without 
encountering a
captcha -- those abstract renderings of random characters that ask users to 
retype the word they see (these images make it impossible for blind computer 
users to sign up for user accounts because captcha images cannot be read by 
screen readers). Bloglines also makes it easy to manage account preferences and 
set up personal blogs without sighted assistance. What's more is the site's 
feed reader software called the "Notifier" allows users to activate an auditory 
alarm that indicates when new content has been
In addition, AFB also found NewsGator to be usable for people with vision loss. 
service provides a simple and easy-to- understand interface, with brief 
explanations of site
features when they are implemented for the first time. Signing up for an 
account is also accessible and like Bloglines, the service does not require 
users to confront a captcha.
While Evaluating the Five Feed Reader Services, AFB Encountered the Following 
Accessibility Problems:  -- The most serious accessibility issue around 
blog-hosting services was the inability to create user accounts. This is due to 
automated pictorial verification-also known as a captcha or the "vision test." 
-- There is a lack of comprehensive how-to information aimed at novice bloggers 
and most tutorials assume users are able to access and see the instructional 
diagrams, applications, and web pages.
-- RSS readers are often difficult to work with. Some of the more serious 
included inaccessible installation procedures, menu bars that were difficult to
navigate, and the inability to view the list of a user's own subscriptions. -- 
On almost all the sites, evaluators found improperly labeled links, radio 
buttons, and edit fields; inaccessible combo-boxes; automatically scrolling 
lists of links; or a non-intuitive interface. All of these things make it 
difficult for screen reader users to navigate a web site.
The good news is that making a web site accessible is easy. With a few simple 
in web page design -- like properly labeling forms when building web interfaces 
providing descriptive alt text for graphics -- it is possible to make these 
Internet tools
user-friendly to the millions of
computer users with vision loss worldwide. For a full copy of AFB's report on 
RSS, visit

For tips on how to make blogs and web sites accessible to people with vision

For a copy of AFB's May 2005 report on the accessibility of blogging, visit

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that
possibilities for
people with vision loss.
Contact: Adrianna Montague-Gray of the American Foundation for the Blind,

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