SLeek for the vision impaired?
Sean FitzGerald (seanf at tig.com.au) writes,
But the really neat thing about SLeek that leads me to think it may be useful for the vision impaired (if screen readers work with it) is that it has a "Follow" function that lets you nominate to hitch your av to another av in range... a virtual version of a vision impaired person holding the arm of a guide. It works quite well. Then the guide just has to describe the environment.
Blind people in SL - Idle speculation
Mike Reddy (mike.reddy at newport.ac.uk) writes,
This would be easier with a client SDK that could trap text, use text to speech and allow keyboard macros, but given the existing client could we not have a HUD or head mounted scripted object that 'spoke' information. Location, people's names as they came and went, object IDs. Within the current system, these would probably have to be pre-recorded and linked to specific text, say in a notecard. Alternatively, objects in an 'accessible' area could be able to self report, say if someone approached them within a certain distance for a certain time. This area could be made the home location for participants. We could even run a competition to design accessible vending machines that used sound instead/as well as text.
To aid people with visual impairments - most people who are blind aren't actually 'blind' - it would be great to have control over field of view in the client, which could effectively allow mouse view of a small angle to be the equivalent of a magnified image, much as PC viewing software allows the whole screen to be enlarged. Sadly, this would not easily include text. However, if we had a HUD object repeating any 'heard' text in the mouselook view, then even this might be possible. This would require chat in the mouselook view...
Ah well, maybe when I have a PhD student to throw at it...
Jeff Hiles (jeffrey.hiles at wright.edu) wrote
As Danielle said, right now you would have to pair a blind student with another student or with an assistant who could navigate, read, and describe what's on the screen. That's not unique to people with visual disabilities, though.
The visually impaired could participate more directly, though, if the SL client was accessible to screen readers. I know blind people who have embraced instant messaging with clients that work with JAWS. So, in theory, it would be possible for people who can't see to carry on their own text conversations in Second Life. That degree of independence, I think, would make the experience more immediate and immersive.
However, the Second Life client doesn't currently give screen reader access to chat or IM text. In fact, you can't even read the menus with JAWS. If the client did have that most basic accessibility--chat, IM and menus--blind users would still need some assistance getting around.
Lisa Dawley (lisadawley at boisestate.edu) writes,
I was doing a presentation in our amphitheater one day. A gentleman in a wheel chair asked me if I could make the stadium accessible, because there wasn't a seat large enough for him to "land" his wheelchair and he had to float.
Second life for the visually impaired
Roome, Thomas C (thomas.roome at student.utdallas.edu ) writes,
In the near future the Internet will make a shift from web sites to a 3D environment spaces. The same information that is on a web site can be available to people in a 3D environment, but the question is how can a 3D environment be accessible for people with disabilities? The UTD Accessibility Island will be trying to find the answers to this question. One of the, island goal is to provide information on video game accessibility and general information on the different disabilities. Another goal is to create a conference center for people to discuss different topics around Accessibility. The last major goal of the island is to provide some land for research and development, and I want to form an in world research team of scripters, programmer, educators and people with disabilities. If you would like to become a research team member, then please contact Tom06 Castro or e-mail thomas.roome at student.utdallas.edu
Further thoughts on people with visual disabilities in Second Life
Jeff Hiles (jeffrey.hiles at wright.edu) writes,
When I work with JAWS users in real life, they sometimes ask me to give them my arm and guide them where they need to go. What if you could "give an arm" in Second Life and lead someone around? Better yet, what if you could do that invisibly so no one else in Second Life knew you were there? The key would be for you to be able to guide someone remotely, without having to be in the same room as the person you were guiding.
For example, as a guide, you would have the ability move your friend's avatar through Second Life, and to see what that avatar would see. But your friend would have control of chat and IM. From your computer, you would move the avatar through Second Life wherever your friend asked you to take it. The two of you would communicate by voice, say through Skype, and you would describe everything you saw.
Danielle Mirliss (dmirliss at yahoo.com, Danielle Damone in SL) also comments,
I also work closely with several students on my campus that are blind and they would be willing to give us feedback on the experience.