CS 380  Lab 1:  Accessibility Software

Since Windows is the most widely used operating system, we're going to be working in Windows for this lab.  So, reboot your computer if you're not in it currently.

Create a new section in your journal entitled "Lab 1:  Accessibility Software."  Record a brief description of this lab as you go along.

Part 1:  Demonstration Videos

Watch the following video clips to see examples of how people with visual disabilities navigate documents and web pages on the computer:

Introduction to the Screen Reader

Screen Magnification and the Web
Refreshable Braille and the Web

As you watch these videos, document your reactions to them in your journal.  Describe one aspect of the videos that either most surprised you or corrected a misconception.

Watch the following video to see some examples of common website accessibility problems:

Screen Readers and the Web

Part 2:  Hands On

Skim this website on Accessibility in Windows and briefly skim Chapter 2 of Accessibility:  A Guide for Educators.  As you read about these accessibility tools available in Windows, play around with a few of them and document your reactions.

Try the following two experiments using Microsoft Narrator to navigate the web.  While there are better text-to-speech tools available for web browsing, keep in mind that Microsoft Narrator is the only one installed by default with Windows.  You can move around between hyperlinks and active fields using the tab button to move forward and shift+tab to move backward.

Turn on Microsoft Narrator and skim over the help section.  You are welcome to copy down or print out any parts of it that you would like.  Use Internet Explorer for these next experiments.

Navigating to Google News
  1. Go to http://www.google.com.  Your focus starts on the main search box.  Take a look at the webpage and read step three.  However, do not click ahead -- stay on the main google webpage.  Figure out how you will achieve step three visually first without trying it, then proceed to step two.
  2. Turn off the monitor.
  3. Navigate to the Google News site.
  4. Figure out the title of the first "Top News" story.
  5. Record your reactions to this process in your journal.
Navigating the CS380 Website
  1. Turn off your monitor if it isn't already.
  2. Press ctrl+o to get the open dialog box.
  3. Type in "http://cs.brynmawr.edu/cs380"
  4. Navigate to and bring up this lab on the course website.
  5. Record your reactions in your journal.  What made this one so much simpler?

Navigating Bryn Mawr College's Website
  1. Go to http://ww.google.com.  Again, your focus starts on the main search box.
  2. Turn off the monitor.
  3. Google Bryn Mawr College's main website and navigate there.
  4. What is the title of the first news story on the website?
  5. If you can't answer number 4 in a minute or two, stop and turn on the monitor, trying it when you can see what is going on.
  6. Record your reactions in your journal.

Part 3:  Looking Forward

Brainstorm a few ways that computational methods (AI, machine vision, etc.) could be integrated with these existing tools to improve accessibility of documents and the web.  Don't worry about the feasibility or current state-of-the-art of these technologies for right now, just spend 5 minutes and free-write to brainstorm ideas.

Choose one of your ideas and spend a few minutes looking up what the current state-of-the-art is of this technology and flesh out its application to improve accessibility.  Search to see if you can find any applications of this technology to accessibility and its strengths and weaknesses.  If not, what might be some of the major challenges and risks to making this application successful?