From the CEO, week 5 on accessibility: Progress but slow

Hey Tiger Nation,

This week the blog feels more like work than the exciting journey I had envisioned when starting it a month ago.

Making Email Distributions Accessible
I spent time trying to make sure our MailChimp emails were accessible.  It is tough for me since I don’t regularly use a screen reader. With NVDA reading the email in Outlook, there was still some weird stuff.  By choosing the web page option, it seemed to read it as expected.  I finally punted to my dad to see if our best attempt was good enough after it still was confusing to me.

He reported:
“Dan, interesting, I tried NVDA, Jaws, and Window-Eyes in “read all” mode. NVDA threw in a bunch of formatting garbage about pages and tables, much of which seemed actually wrong to me (e.g. it said “page 2 page 1” several times while reading). Jaws and Window-eyes both read it with little or no extra crap. If I arrow down line by line, I get lots of formatting information with all of them.

Yeah, web page reading seems to leave out a lot of the formatting crap when reading in continuous mode.

So I would say it is pretty accessible now.”

If you have any suggestions for accessible email distribution solutions, please comment to let me know.

ViewPlus EASI webinar
On Thursday, March 10, ViewPlus presented a webinar on audio and tactile graphics on EASI, I’ll post in the comments once the replay is available.  There was good attendance and audience participation.  We offered people a chance for a sneak peek if they are attending the CSUN conference in San Diego at the end of March.  We also had a number of attendees express interest in participating in the IVEO 3 beta program starting soon.  If you are interested in either, you can let me know at  The new technology in IVEO 3, lets you create accessible graphics from existing graphics using a transformation tool in a simple step-by-step process.

Creating accessible graphic content
I also talked with some people working on technology to create graphics and charts to see how accessible they are. I hope we’ll have some cool things to share soon for creating chemical diagrams that import into IVEO.  The tough thing is we have found using SVG is the best source for creating them but most graphic creation tools use proprietary languages and the SVG export is not in a usable form for IVEO.  I’m still hoping to find a quick way to get accessible graphics out of the mainstream design tools since it has proven difficult to scan in the graphics, along with OCR text and get a 100% correct representation of the data.

Since most accessible graphics must be simplified from the often complex, 3-D, color versions often used to grab the attention of sighted people, it seems like giving a subject matter expert that ability to quickly create a simplified diagram in a mainstream tool and export it to something accessible would be the quickest way for us to develop something useful for younger kids wanting access to STEM subject matter.  The scan and OCR method still requires some subject matter expertise at this time since it is not likely to fully automated anytime soon.

Am I on the right track?  If you are teacher in K-12, are you comfortable drawing something in CorelDraw or Adobe tools?  For labs and examples, do you create any custom diagrams or only use pre-existing content?

Help us help kids
The goal here still being to provide teachers and parents the ability to create accessible, tactile graphics for blind students wanting access to technical information that goes beyond text only.  With all ViewPlus printers/embossers, it is possible to click print from any Windows program with graphical content.  The accessibility of the result is dependent on the quality of the graphic created.  My feeling is that by making it fast and easy to transform the content into something truly accessible at the source level, the barriers to these kids will come tumbling down.

Join us by commenting on the blog or any of numerous social media platforms we are on.


Dan Gardner
ViewPlus Technologies

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