November 16, 2011

Digital Editions 1.8.1 Available

A new version of Adobe Digital Editions is available, and with it comes additional improvements for accessibility.

Users relying on VoiceOver, JAWS, or NVDA, and keyboard-only or high-contrast users can make use of this application to read electronic books, including books from booksellers such as Barnes and Noble and Waterstones, and books loaned via public libraries which use OverDrive for electronic book delivery.

In this release we’ve addressed several issues identified internally and externally, including the major enhancement request which was to enable continuous reading. We’ve also shared information with assistive technology vendors who have done significant work on their end to increase support for this application.

The installer is available at http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/digitaleditions1-8/. Of particular interest is the “Getting Started” book that is installed with the application, as this book details keyboard shortcuts and other information related to accessibility support.

I’m interested in any feedback that people may have on this release, as well as requests for future enhancements.

UPDATE 1/5/2012: Window-Eyes 7.x now supports Digital Editions 1.8.1 through a downloadable app. More information is available at the blog post announcing the availability of this app.

11:19 AM Permalink
October 3, 2011

New Work on Closed Captioning

Supporting accessibility is an important aspect of supporting video, and closed captioning is of particular interest lately with the release of the FCC’s proposed rules for captioning. The FCC’s proposed rules are to fulfill the requirements of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 and are specifically targeted to broadcast video when delivered via the Internet.

A key question around captioning is the best file format for caption data. The W3C’s TTML is a standards which is commonly used, and SMPTE has extended this standard for an additional format, commonly known as SMPTE-TT. In addition to these, the WHAT-WG recently invented a new format, named WebVTT (based on a previous format, SRT). Authors are not surprisingly unsure as to the right format to use. As appealing as a single caption format may be, it currently seems unlikely that a single format will meet the needs of all providers of captions.

Adobe has helped those delivering video via Flash deliver closed captioning for several years. Flash CS3 included support for TTML (then known as DFXP) back in 2007 and has provided similar support for TTML in the Open Source Media Framework (OSMF). Our most current work on captioning addresses other standards for captioning:

  • Support for SMPTE-TT in OSMF. We’ve developed a plugin for OSMF to support SMPTE-TT. This is freely available and licensed under the BSD software license, so even if you aren’t using OSMF it is possible to utilize the source code to support SMPTE-TT in other environments. This plugin supports robust positioning and formatting for closed captions.
  • Participation in a community group for WebVTT at the W3C. WebVTT is still new and needs work to fully support the necessary functionality for captions. The advantage of this work happening at the W3C is that there is a greater opportunity for additional input. As this is a format that browser vendors have expressed interest in implementing, it is important for developers and end users to join the community group and weigh in on strengths and weaknesses of the format to help ensure that the spec provides support which is sufficient for the needs of all concerned. Adobe has joined this group to help ensure that this is true for the WebVTT community spec being drafted.

Our intent is to support what our customers want, and we have some customers who want each of these three formats. As a result we’re engaged with multiple efforts. The bottom line for Adobe is that end users who depend on captions need complete information to provide access to video and audio content and developers and video providers need efficient solutions that fit into their overall video workflow. Whether providing implementations for a developed standard or engaging in a standards development activity, we will work to ensure that both end user and video provider needs are met.

10:49 AM Permalink
July 20, 2011

Books for everyone – an accessible Digital Editions for Windows and Mac

I’m delighted to share the news that Adobe Digital Editions 1.8 is available on Adobe Labs and that at long last this version provides improved support for accessibility. Digital Editions 1.8 has enhanced keyboard support, provides additional text magnification, support for high-contrast mode color-switching, and interoperability with the UIAutomation accessibility API to allow screen readers to read ebooks.

Some views of Digital Editions 1.8:

Digital Editions 1.8 will allow users, including screen reader users, to check out books from public libraries that use Adobe Content Server for book Digital Rights Management (DRM). In the United States, many libraries use Overdrive but have needed to direct users to audio books instead of EPUB books. Now, taking out an EPUB book from the library can work for many more people.

Buying books at many popular online vendors is also possible. EPUB Books purchased at Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, ebooks.com, Waterstones, and more can be read with Digital Editions 1.8. Naturally, the book store needs to be accessible also, which is unfortunately not universally true (e.g. at Barnes and Noble the “Buy now” button is not labeled, maddeningly), but some are.

A couple of words about screen reader support. Digital Editions 1.8 is built using WPF and utilizes Microsoft’s UIAutomation accessibility API. Currently, JAWS users will be able to read books successfully. Update: JAWS 12 and newer future versions are able to support UIAutomation, so JAWS 12 is required. Earlier versions are not expected to correctly interact with Digital Editions 1.8. Other screen readers that support UIAutomation such as Window-Eyes 7.5 and NVDA are able to successfully read the menus and other aspects of the application, with the exception of the book content. This is a complex control and we are talking with vendors to ensure that the book content is able to be read by more tools than JAWS. Mac users can use VoiceOver to read books on the Mac version of Digital Editions 1.8.

There have many people pushing and encouraging us to improve Digital Editions and I thank everyone for their feedback and advice. I’d like to recognize and thank a few people in particular for engaging with us to provide feedback on early builds and patiently waiting for the release of this tool – from the National Federation of the Blind, Dr. Marc Maurer, Anne Taylor, and Tony Olivero; from the Royal National Institute of Blind People, Richard Orme, Steve Griffiths, and several testers; from the American Foundation for the Blind, Paul Schroeder and Darren Burton; and George Kerscher from DAISY and IDPF. I am certain that each of these people will have positive and negative things to say about this version; there is additional work to do to make Digital Additions more accessible to more people, but I believe that this is a solid first step and that is due to the hard work of the development team and the advice and guidance of these people and others.

We’d like to give a few people an easy opportunity to try out reading an accessible EPUB book with Digital Editions 1.8, so we are holding a quick drawing for gift cards to online bookstores. You can enter the contest here. We’ll award 30 gift cards on Monday July 25 at noon Eastern US time.

We’re interested in your feedback, so enjoy your books and please send feedback!

9:12 AM Permalink
June 29, 2011

InDesign 5.5 Accessibility Webinar

Just a heads up that Noha Edell from Adobe is offering a webinar on InDesign CS5.5 accessibility, this Friday, July 1 at 3pm Eastern/12pm Pacific.

The InDesign team has made substantial improvements in accessibility support. Authors now have complete control over generated reading order, can provide tables and lists that are tagged correctly without any need for repair in Acrobat, and have more sophisticated support for alternative text for images.

This webinar is a must-see for anyone who uses InDesign for the creation of PDF documents that need to be accessible. The webinar is Friday, July 1, at 12 p.m. PT at http://my.adobe.acrobat.com/askcspro.

More information about the event is available at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=198681246846060.

1:56 PM Permalink
June 20, 2011

Talk on Captioning at TDI Conference

I spoke on Adobe’s efforts to support the captioning aspects of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act at the TDI Conference a couple of weeks ago in Austin, TX. In this talk I highlight a number of efforts to support captioning that Adobe has worked on – most people interested in captioning are familiar with some but not all of these. Take a look and let me know if you have any comments.

Presentation: Supporting the CVAA with Captioning for Video and Live Meetings.

2:41 PM Permalink
March 24, 2011

New Closed Captioning Pod for Adobe Connect

The new real-time captioning pod for Adobe Connect 8 is now available at the Adobe Exchange. Note: Link updated to point to the current version of the captioning pod

This pod improves on the previous version in several ways:

  • Predefined connection information for CaptionColorado, CaptionFirst, and the Media Access Group at WGBH
  • Built-in ability for users to record a transcript of the captioning, and export to text or HTML. (Meeting hosts can disable this if required)
  • Five color and contrast options for caption display, and multiple font size choices
  • Support for multiple concurrent tracks of captioning, of particular use for multi-lingual audiences
  • End-user rewind controls to review caption information

As with the earlier version, captions are recorded when a Connect meeting is recorded, so an archived meeting will display any captions available during the live meeting, and end-users who may find live captioning distracting or who simply do not wish to view captions can disable the display for their view of the meeting without disrupting the captioning for other participants.

Closed captioning vendors interested in delivering captioning to Adobe Connect meetings can contact us (email: access [at] adobe) for instructions on how to communicate with the caption pod.

The pod was developed by eSyncTraining who did a great job taking a wide variety of requirements into consideration and building the pod. We’re discussing further improvements to the pod already, as in developing this pod we consulted with experts at each of the caption agencies as well as current users and captioning experts and as a result have additional ideas to investigate. If you have other ideas for the pod, please let us know.

5:52 PM Permalink
March 18, 2011

Flex 4 Accessibility Best Practices

I’m pleased to share a new document: Flex 4 Accessibility Best Practices. This document was developed with the help of the SSB BART Group and provides valuable information to help developers create applications in Flex that meet the needs of users with disabilities and help address compliance targets.

This document will soon find its permanent home on the Adobe Accessibility Best Practices page.

Please feel free to send any comments or questions.

1:11 PM Permalink
March 11, 2011

Adobe at CSUN 2011 Conference

The California State University at Northridge’s Conference on Disability is going on March 16-18, 2011, and Adobe is offering a number of sessions that we hope people will find interesting and informative, as well as offering opportunities to talk directly to Adobe’s accessibility team and product team members.

The event will feature several sessions and events that I want to provide some details for. Here’s our schedule of events:

Wednesday, March 16

Thursday, March 17

Friday, March 18

The following is not an Adobe session, but it is introducing a valuable resource in the form of a course on accessible Flash development, developed jointly by the Department of Veterans Affairs and SSB BART Group.

Adobe will have several people at CSUN and will be attending the TweetUp as well as being available to talk between or after sessions. Please come introduce yourself and ask questions and share your thoughts.

4:25 PM Permalink
February 18, 2011

PDF Accessibility Training for Australian Government

Adobe is running a series of training in Australia the first week of March to help Australian Government employees understand how to create accessible PDF documents. The trainings are being held in Canberra at the National Museum of Australia, but will be recorded and made available online after the sessions (probably with a 1-2 week delay in order to have the recordings captioned and posted). We are running these sessions in conjunction with the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).

I’m delivering two different presentations (twice each):

  • PDF Accessibility for Everyone – suitable for a wide range of user knowledge of accessibility, focusing on common authoring pathways
  • PDF Accessibility for Techo’s – an advanced session for people with good knowledge of accessibility

More information about the sessions, and registration for attendance, is now available.

I’m looking forward to these sessions and helping people understand how to create PDF documents that meet WCAG 2.0 and are easily used by people with disabilities.

4:08 PM Permalink
January 19, 2011

Matt May EASI Seminar on Flash Accessibility

Matt May gave a talk on Flash accessibility for EASI January 18 – the slides for his talk are now available: Building Accessible Flash slides.

9:25 AM Permalink