From the CEO, week 2 on accessibility: Stevie Wonder’s call to action

Hi Tiger Nation,

Awareness is amazingly powerful. Don’t you think? I wrote my first blog post as CEO of ViewPlus and a few days later Stevie Wonder is calling for making more things accessible in front of millions at the Grammy’s ( Do you think he knows anything about tactile graphics or would value having more than pure textual data accessible? He manages to excel in music with a good memory and playing by ear. I’d struggle miserably without sheet music. I wish I knew someone who knows someone who knows Stevie to invite him to Corvallis to see what we are up to here.

Again, awareness of accessibility is the first step. As I was preparing our annual report for our shareholders’ meeting next week, I wondered if what I was creating would be accessible. I was compiling a letter from the board president, an org chart from Visio and financial tables from Excel. I was putting it all together in Adobe InDesign, then saving it to a PDF to email out.

Hey, after last week, I know how to check it out. I turned on the NVDA screen reader and brought up the PDF. I was confronted with a bunch of questions about how to handle all the various stuff in the file. I just accepted all the defaults because I didn’t really know what to expect. Not surprisingly, the letter came through clearly. The org chart is basically a bunch of text boxes connected with special bubbles showing the various groups, managers and other typical information. NVDA started reading stuff but most of the text boxes had multiple lines (e.g. name with title below). By default, these were not read together and things were quite jumbled. Also, there was no attempt to show the relationship shown in the flowchart. I’m not expert in NVDA but I was not surprised. I was at least happy that the text was left as text so the box could be checked as the diagram being accessible so the board president, my father, wouldn’t yell at me, if he ever checked. I have a feeling this is what many people do when creating information for the general public, a checking the box approach. I thought about the first step being to group the text in the boxes together somehow so at least it would be more useful. However, navigating the flow chart would be way more useful. How could I quickly make this Visio flow chart into a tactile graphic? It would really blow up in size if I tried to Braille all the small text, so I thought about just creating a tactile of the lines and embedded the text as audio to use on our IVEO system, allowing tactile and audio to co-exist. Alas, reality took over and I didn’t have time to do more than ask around to see how I could do this. To be continued next week….

Something similar with the balance sheet and income statements. The text was visible to NVDA, so it was “accessible”. However, in some cases, I wanted to parse the columns and other times the rows. I’m sure a more experienced person could do this but I was lost. Anyone an expert here? I thought about creating a tactile table with underlying text audio might also be useful. The problem is I knew of no way to easily convert the PDF table into an SVG to import it into IVEO to even try it. Man, this is frustrating not knowing how to get all this to work in the small amount of time I have to spend on it.

Obviously, I have a lot more work to do here. Now, I’m inspired to figure out how to do it and see if it is useful to anyone out there.

What do you think? Am I on the right track?

Dan Gardner
ViewPlus Technologies

Nice plug for accessibility by Stevie Wonder at the Grammy’s –

Posted by ViewPlus Technologies on Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *