[guispeak] Fwd: A wonderful coincidence, and a request for accessibility improvements in Skype

  • From: "Laura Eaves" <leaves1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "guispeak" <guispeak@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <nfb-talk@xxxxxxxxxx>, "Christine Diller" <christel_rainbow@xxxxxxxxxx>, <BLIND-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 19 Nov 2004 09:21:54 -0500

For all the Skype users or prospective Skype users (of which I'm one) here's an interesting post:

----- Original Message ----- From: "Steve Pattison" <srp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: "GUI-TALK" <gui-talk@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, November 19, 2004 8:54 AM
Subject: [gui-talk] Fwd: A wonderful coincidence, and a request for accessibility improvements in Skype

*********** BEGIN FORWARDED MESSAGE  ***********
On 15/11/2004 at 9:37 AM Doug Lee <dgl@xxxxxxxx> wrote:
I spent last week in Arizona on business.  On my way through the
Phoenix airport, I chanced to meet a public relations person for Skype
Technologies.  She took interest in my accessibility concerns and said
she'd heard from others on the subject.  I made the following two
suggestions, which she said she'd take to the Skype programmers:

1.  A way to change the highlight color used by Skype, so low-vision
users can adjust it to their needs and screen reader users can adjust
it as necessary to make it easier for the screen reader to track
highlight bars.

2.  A more standard Windows control for lists, such as the Contacts
list, so screen readers can take advantage of automatic MSAA support
provided by standard list controls.  This would allow us to hear
the position and count of items in the list, track the list more
effectively without all the problems we're now having with highlight
tracking, etc.  I also suggested a more standard control type for
the text chat windows, such as an HTML control or a true RichEdit
control that supports the iTextDocument interface.  I asked for
this because this would allow at least JAWS to be set up to let the
user move through chat messages without worrying about truncation,
things scrolling off the screen, etc.

I do not claim that these are our biggest issues with Skype.  I was
totally surprised by this chance meeting and just managed those two
suggestions off the top of my head, having bumped into need for
these things while helping Chris Nestrud with the Skype scripts.

Further things that came to mind since that surprise meeting include

- MSAA or on-screen text describing a person's status (online,
offline, away, DND, etc.) that is accessible at all times, as opposed
to a tool tip, which is only accessible for the currently selected

- Hot keys or menu options to enable each of the four Call List
filters (All Calls, Missed Calls, Incoming Calls, Outgoing Calls).

- Inclusion of links in the tab order, such as (from the Start tab)
SkypeOut, Search for Skype users, and Share Skype with a friend.  If
they are in the tab order and can be activated with Space and/or
Enter, they will become apparent to blind users, which they
currently are not.

I will pass these suggestions on to her as well.  I believe she has
already passed the first two suggestions above on to Skype programmers,
and I'm sure she'll pass the rest of them on as well when she can.
Since Skype is being developed for multiple platforms, not just
Windows, I'm not sure how practical my second numbered suggestion
above will be (e.g., Unix variants won't likely have direct equivalents
to Windows' SysListView32 class, so using that class in Windows
might constitute a complication with Skype's portability).

I just thought I'd let everyone on these lists know of this.  If
anyone else here has a Skype Technologies contact for accessibility
concerns, please let me know.

The person I talked to (and she's ok with me giving this information
out here) is

Kelly Larabee

She also pointed out that forums exist on skype.com for suggestions
for and discussions of Skype.  Since meeting her, I have examined
these and found a number of messages from blind Skype users and
messages discussing accessibility concerns, including a few comments
from Skype developers and at least one message advertising the Skype
scripts.  I confess I'm in the habit of avoiding non-email-based
discussion forums for the most part, simply for lack of time to manage
the almost always slower interfaces associated with web-based mail
compared to normal email; but the forums are a more official place to
get help and offer suggestions.

Doug Lee           dgl@xxxxxxxx        http://www.dlee.org
Bartimaeus Group   doug@xxxxxxxxxxxx   http://www.bartsite.com
"It is not the mountain in the distance which makes you want to stop
walking; but the grain of sand in your shoe."  --Anon
*********** END FORWARDED MESSAGE  ***********

Regards Steve,
Skype:  steve1963
MSN Messenger:  internetuser383@xxxxxxxxxxx

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