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Mudcat and other folk site accessibility

Related threads:
BS: Internet Access for the Disabled (17)
Making Mudcat Accessible (33)
Clean text for the blind (12)


Richard Bridge 10 Aug 03 - 03:52 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 10 Aug 03 - 07:23 AM
GUEST,Jon 10 Aug 03 - 07:44 AM
Geoff the Duck 10 Aug 03 - 10:22 AM
Uncle_DaveO 10 Aug 03 - 10:57 AM
nutty 10 Aug 03 - 12:19 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 03 - 01:05 PM
Uncle_DaveO 10 Aug 03 - 01:18 PM
Bill D 10 Aug 03 - 01:32 PM
Richard Bridge 11 Aug 03 - 02:55 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 11 Aug 03 - 04:18 AM
DMcG 11 Aug 03 - 04:19 AM
GUEST,Jon 11 Aug 03 - 05:30 AM
Jeri 11 Aug 03 - 10:19 AM
Bill D 11 Aug 03 - 01:54 PM
Bill D 11 Aug 03 - 02:06 PM
Jeri 11 Aug 03 - 02:11 PM
Bill D 11 Aug 03 - 03:53 PM
DMcG 11 Aug 03 - 06:00 PM
GUEST,Jon 11 Aug 03 - 07:01 PM
Bill D 11 Aug 03 - 07:07 PM
Jeri 11 Aug 03 - 07:41 PM
Bill D 11 Aug 03 - 08:29 PM
Richard Bridge 12 Aug 03 - 02:53 AM
DMcG 12 Aug 03 - 03:12 AM
GUEST,Jon 12 Aug 03 - 07:04 AM
Richard Bridge 14 Aug 03 - 07:13 PM
GUEST 14 Aug 03 - 08:57 PM
Bill D 19 Aug 03 - 10:54 AM
Richard Bridge 19 Aug 03 - 07:09 PM
Bill D 23 Sep 03 - 01:00 PM
open mike 23 Sep 03 - 02:56 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Jun 04 - 03:04 AM
treewind 25 Jun 04 - 05:35 AM
GUEST,Jon 25 Jun 04 - 06:43 AM
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Subject: Mudcat and other folk site accessility
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 03:52 AM

I have received the following from a visually impaired folkie: -

"Hi Richard,

1. Is Mudcat up and running again yet?

2. If so, do you know whether accessibility may have improved?

3. Do you know of any other folk sites I may try in the absence of access to Mudcat?

Thanks,"


I have told him that Mudcat is indeed running, and sent him the accessibility thread.

What other folk sites/forums/usegroups, etc might he find good for accessibiity?


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessility
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 07:23 AM

See if the Links at the top of the page would work for his accessibility needs.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessility
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 07:44 AM

I'm a bit confused by the questions asked by Richards friend. With bits like "Is Mudcat up and running again?" I would have thought he was asking more about site availability/reliability than about accesability for someone with poor eyesight.

Reliability: I think Mudcat has improved overall (I'd ignore things like the fire/electrical - really that was a one off) but probably still has more work to do.

Accessability: Mudcat has always been a very clear site which will work with just about any browser and low screen resolutions. The only problem I had (some time ago) with it when trying a text reader to speak out the text, to see how I would get on if I couldn't see the screen was the likes of quicklinks, letters for searching the dt, etc. It is fine and natural for a sighted person but my own feeling was it would be very confusing and that there was a lot of stuff to wade through before reaching the threads for a blind person - imagine having every letter of the alphabet read out to you and all the contents of the quick links each time you want to read the page.

Other sites, I'd have to mention the quiet one I try to run: folkinfo. I don't think it's quite as clear cut as Mudcat (I don't use a plain white background) but I'd think is still easy to read. Availability has not been as good as I had wanted but between that and a backdoor for the forum at a href=www.jonbanjo.com/folkinfo/forum.asp, I am probably achieving close to 99% uptime.

If news readers are an option, uk.music.folk, rec.music.folk and rec.music.celtic are all worth a look - at least I read them and alt.banjo each day.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 10:22 AM

---One thing which might be useful for somebody with who is visually impaired is the alternative browser "Opera" CLICK HERE. It has various useful functions, one of which is that you can use the + and - keys to magnify or shrink the contents of the browser window. Mudcat threads enlarged to 400% without becoming unuseable.
Quack!
Geoff the Duck.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 10:57 AM

I used WIN 98 SE previously, and now use XP Pro, and in both of those you can increase the text size by a GREAT deal--more than you'd ever want to. does the trick to enlarge, and decreases size.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: nutty
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 12:19 PM

Text can be enlarged using the browser so that it stays large regardless of what size it is on any particular site.

On Netscape goto Edit
      then       Preferences
      then in   Appearances click on Fonts

This allows you to permenantly change both the font and the size.

I know you can do similar things on Internet Explorer


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 01:05 PM

test


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 01:18 PM

Actually, I think the enlargement I referred to in my last message just might be part of Netscape rather than XP Pro. I'm not sure.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 01:32 PM

in Netscape, you just hit something like ctrl + [ and ctrl + ]. In Opera it's a simple + or - .

as Geoff says, you can get VERY big...


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 02:55 AM

THank you for the input.

I have tried the "Links" but don't quite see how they could help. Am I missing something?

John, you are spot on with your comments about reading the entire alphabet, that's exactly it. I am forwarding your suggestions.

Unfortunately no amount of screen magnification will assist. Although my friend is not wholly blind, for functional purposes other than the approximate locating of very large (one foot across or bigger) well lit objects, or telling light from dark, he is effectively functionally so.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 04:18 AM

There are many programs - Apple and PC - that will "read" the webpage content in a spoken voice. Via Voice - Dragon Naturally Speaking - are commerical and some free voice that come as standard equipment with I-Macs.

Is this the sort of item you are seeking?

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: DMcG
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 04:19 AM

Richard - is your freind aware of BrookesTalk? This is browser specailly designed for the blind and, I think, free of charge.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 05:30 AM

Thanks for explaining the situation Richard. I think I may have past comment in an earlier accesibility thread but my opinion is that for Mudcat to be easy to use for blind people, an extra set of pages would be required.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Jeri
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 10:19 AM

Maybe only one page would help a lot, Jon.

There are "print friendly" links at the top of each page. One could go to the "to thread" link if they wanted all the bells and whistles. Or maybe a link to JUST the message posting window.

It would help if people could set one's preferences to the "print friendly" pages. It might be most helpful to have a "link light" main threads page. A person could use that page to call up current threads in the "print friendly" format. There could be text links to the search box, filter, and the links in the the banner bar.

One problem I can forsee with this would be that if I linked to a thread in a message, it would send people to the full monty version - unless there was a separate directory. Instead of (for example) "www.mudcat.org/" the text pages were in "www.mudcat.org/lite/"

I don't know how much time Jeff has for this, but in my ignorance, I don't see this as difficult to accomplish.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 01:54 PM

I have tested the text-to-speech program ReadPlease , which has a free version. I just used it to read this thread (in printer-ready format) aloud to me....but it does have it's limitations. As it stands, it requires one to be able to copy & paste the desired text to it's window, and this could be tricky for a (nearly) blind user. They do promote an add-on program which integrates into Internet Explorer called Reading Bar which 'seems' to say it allows reading any web page aloud....but it is a $70 item. Needless to say, I have not tested it.

ReadPlease itself works pretty well, and could be a useful item, but I can't say how easy it would be to get used to without some help. I saw a review of the program which said that the company is working to develop advances which would make the interface easier for the blind.

There are other programs I have seen which read aloud what you type, sort of a talking text editor/spell-checker. Perhaps a combination would be helpful.

Hope this helps a bit.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 02:06 PM

(note..*wry smile*..in the header, accessibility is mis-spelled 'accessility'..and ReadPlease dutifully tries to pronounce it that way....so comprehension of threads on Mudcat would vary according to the typing & spelling skills of the poster...which would make reading John9 from Hull's posts...umm...interesting)

The paid version of ReadPlease has advanced features..one of which is to teach the program pronunciation preferences. (It sort of slurs "Mudcat" into something like 'Mudct')


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Jeri
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 02:11 PM

Bill -in Windows:

Alt/e
A

Switch to software window

Alt/e
p


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 03:53 PM

hhmm? I assume this is a version of ctrl A - ctrl V? Never did it 'quite' that way.....experimenting

ctrl A selects all...ctrl V pastes it, just P seems to also once you have done alt E ...but I seem to need the ctrl C to copy the text.

" a man with a good watch always knows what time it is, a man with two watches is never sure"


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: DMcG
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 06:00 PM

Reading a page aloud is one thing, but a web interface for the blind needs a way to follow links (at the very least), so I don't think any of the text-to-speech tools would be adequate. It needs more 'understanding' of HTML to follow links.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 07:01 PM

Sure it does Dave but the problem as I (maybe wrongly) see it with Mudcat is just that there are so many links to take in. If someone wants to use a navigation tool that will read links/options, we:

Start with quick links - 21 choices plus description of button,
"Main menu" - 10
"Super search" - 26 letters, 2 check boxes, advanced search, 2 buttons.
"Click me" - support mudcat.
"order Mudcat CD's"
"membership has it's rewards"
"random link", mabe several links there if it is auction.
"create a new topic"
"filter"
"click for BS"
"perma thread index"

before we get to the links to threads.

I know you know more about computing than me but my opinion remains that although everything combined on one main page is great for a person with sight (even if some magnification was needed - Mudcat is clear), there is just too much for someone needing the contents read out by a reader program to take in or perhaps even go through.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 07:07 PM

there is a sort of way to follow links in the Opera browser....

Opera has keyboard shortcuts to almost everything...When I press the 'A' key, a highlighted box jumps to the first URL showing...pressing 'Q' goes in reverse from the bottom...then pressing 'enter' takes me to that link. I use this all the time, just to avoid clicking the mouse. I suppose the text reader could give you some idea of what is at the link, but this is NOT a complete solution. If one is blind, the complexity of many web pages could require way too much time to figure out what is there.

I may just experiment with Mudcat and ReadPlease, if I can work out how to alternate between the browser (Mudcat) and the program...if I KNOW I have a page I want to read, I can do the ctrl A...alt-tab..Ctrl V thing, then have it read to me...but I am sure it would get tedious. I do know one person who is blind and deals with mauch stuff like this...I'll see what I can learn


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Jeri
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 07:41 PM

Bill, yeah, that copy step is needed. I thought it at the computer - you just missed it.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 08:29 PM

you must be wearin' one of them tinfoil hats, Jeri! Can't hear a thing from your brain...*grin*


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 02:53 AM

This is all very helpful and I will pass the thread contents on but in the meantime I have a response to the last time I passed the thread contents on: it seems the real problem is links, and the worst of it is uninformative links which, when read, simply say "click here" to a text reader, for that could describe a link to anywhere or anything. Many of the visually impaired will have special text readers and indeed in some cases braille generators which offer them more suitable functionality than things like Viavoice.

Anyway, the comments I have to pass back are: -


"Hi Richard,

you might like to pass back the following tips towards accessibility:

1. The problem of having to plough through so many suprious links before
reaching the core information on the page can easily be solved. At the top
of the page, put an extra link, with alt. text: 'Skip navigation'. Clicking
(or pressing enter) on this should take you to the part of the page where
the thread information begins. Have a look at almost any page on the BBC's
website (but not the BBC Shop), and you'll find practical examples of how
this works.

2. There are still a few links on the pages with alternative text 'Click
Here', and 'More'.   often the wrong part of the sentence has been used for
the alt. text to the link, e.g.

'*Click Here* for Mudcat threads'. ('Mudcat Threads' would be a more
meaningful tag, because it's more informative when read out of context by a
speech screenreader.   

Finally, the most popular screenreader to try the site against would be
'JAWS', which is marketed in America by Freedom Scientific, and in Britain
by Blazie Engineering.

I have to say though, that I visited the site last night and found its
accessibility vastly improved from what I remember it to have been. The
principal reason for this is the use of meaningful alternative text tags.

Please keep it up. You're definitely getting there.

Thanks"


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: DMcG
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 03:12 AM

I agree, Jon. Having a way to follow links is the first step, but by no means the last. Any web designer should be constantly asking how the site fits in with various disabilities and its horribly easy to produce a site that only works with certain screen resolutions, one set of font sizes and perfect vision - most businesses do it all the time!

While we are thinking about disabilities, one person I used to work with had Parkinson's, and that made all sorts of things like 'radio buttons' and 'combo boxes' very difficult to work with. (She couldn't even use a mouse and had to have a large rollerball.) Don't exclude these people either!

(And on a personal level, but nothing to do with either Mudcat or the Web, I have a stammer. Everyone hates automated phone systems, but just imagine dealing with the voice recognition ones if you have a stammer and they didn't bother to provide push-button equivalent. It's hell!)


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 07:04 AM

Thanks Richard - very useful information. I'll have to add some alt tags to my links when I get some time.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 07:13 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 08:57 PM

I've been looking a little further. I had got myself confused. The alt tag as far as I know is only applicable to img tags. Other comments there could prehaps refer to the title tags in links. Perhaps your friend's comments at times even refer to links within posts made by others?

I would be prepared to work through the problems with your friend on my site although I can't afford to use his suggested JAWS as a test platform - that software cost is more than 5 years operating cost to me.

Hopefully, you will now get a MC offer - it works that way... ;-)

Jon


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Aug 03 - 10:54 AM

I just found another program which will read text aloud. It has a couple of features that ReadPlease does not. It can be set to automatically read anything in the clipboard, and it has a feature to 'teach' it new pronunciation/vocabulary. It will even read entire web pages, by connecting via URL...

It, again, is not a complete solution, as it does not totally solve the problem for a person of limited vision of navigating to and highlighting exactly what they want to read....but it will do lots of tricks which MAY be useful.

take a look


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Aug 03 - 07:09 PM

I've forwarded to my friend


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Sep 03 - 01:00 PM

just an update for those who have an interest in these things.

I heard a PBS radio program on technology access for the handicapped today, and I now see how expensive it is to get the fancy gadgets and programs,,,
Here is one of the professional screenreaders
http://www.synapseadaptive.com/gw/wineyes.htm


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: open mike
Date: 23 Sep 03 - 02:56 PM

i d not know what program it was but there
was a person on paltalk that had a screen
reading program. Pal talk is great for visual
impaired people because it is mostly audio,
and the text can be transferred to audio
using a reader program. www.paltalk.com
requires a small download but is free
(with pop-up ads) (a.k.a. papa bats)
or can be subscribed to for a fee.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Jun 04 - 03:04 AM

Comment from said friend -

"I'm now getting used to the layout of the Lyrics and Knowledge page, but
wonder, why, when I tab through the alternative texts for the links do I get
a series of meaningful ones like
"Cleckheaton Festival", "anyone know about Jack Roland", and then one with a
number, e.g. "169"? After one of these numbers, the next alt. tag listed is
always "D". What's all that about?"

and I add my own comment - did this or the accessibility thread not at one stage become permathreads? I have had to "search" to find this...


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: treewind
Date: 25 Jun 04 - 05:35 AM

The number, when it's a link, which is when it's bigger than 50, takes you to the thread split into separate pages of 50 messages at a time. The top of each page has links to the others, so you can skip to the last page of a long thread without waiting for the rest to download.

The 'd' stands for descending order, and does the same thing with the messages listed backwards and starting on the last page, so gets you soonest to the most recent postings.

I asked for the number link to take you to the last page by default (since that's almost invariably what you'd want to use it for) by my suggestion was rejected. It's still better than nothing.

I've always considered the Mudcat to be one of the best sites I've seen for simple readable text and lack of clutter. I appreciate that some of the accessibility issues mentioned could be improved, but I would have thought that this site is far ahead of many others for that and general compatibility, and for content over fancy presentation. And for all the complaints about the thread organisation, it's way ahead of many others.

(I'd never tried that 'printer friendly' link till it was mentioned above - excellent work!)

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Mudcat and other folk site accessibility
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 25 Jun 04 - 06:43 AM

I think this is old ground Anahata but there does seem to be various ways to go about getting where you want to be in a thread. The most common is perhaps giving individual links (1 2 3, etc for each page).

I work on a different principle to Mudcat in that I believe every member has different ideas as to how they normally want to access a thread and different speed capabilities in terms of access. I give one simple link but allow members to chose what that link should do, ie, (within limits) decide how many posts a page should open, decide whether the last page or the fist page should be opened first and whether the thread should be opened in ascending or decending order - anyone can set up as they wish.

The biggest criticm I have received with this approach is the lack of a Mudcat like listing of posters at the top of a thread (something I can find handy but dislike on balance because of the ammount of scrolling down it can cause). I did try it and could have made it an option but got no feedback as to how it should work (should it index every page or just the one page?). It's one you need to be careful on though if you allow variable page sizes or changed the page size. The last time I looked, a direct link to a post here like http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=59418&messages=3612&page=9#959130 would fail if it was decided that as general speed had increased and 75 posts would be a more comfortable level - the reason being bookmark #959130 would no longer land on page 9.

Jon


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