WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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RE: Reality Check (was RE: accessibility for deaf)


From: zara
Date: Apr 23, 2006 10:00AM

> In any given territory, deaf users that are functioning in their
> particular society have already developed coping mechanisms to deal with
> the printed form - their level of reading comprehension may not be at
> the highest level (thus WCAG #14.1 "Use the clearest and simplest
> language appropriate for a site's content") however we don't see product
> packaging in sign language, nor newspapers, magazines, junk mail or any
> other form of written communication - why should the web be different?

Actually, I was not speaking specifically of text to sign language translation, I was speaking of providing sign language for appropriate Web media. However, while sign language and other languages like English and French, etc., are different in structure, some have looked into the issue of providing sign language for text before, whether to aid comprehension of written text or as a learning tool for the deaf. I know of Vcom3D which had developed signing avatar software that could sign text content. I am unaware of what became of this project but I remember seeing this product demonstrated at CSUN a few years ago and deaf people who attended the session were pleasantly surprised at how well it was able to sign and how understandable it was, despite certain kinks still to work out. It should be noted that this kind of product needed a powerful computer to run as well. If someone from Trace is member of this list, perhaps they could tell us more about it as, if I recall correctly, they were a partner of this project at the time.

Although many deaf people have indeed developed coping mechanisms to deal with written languages, the fact remains that it still represents a great challenge for many. Illiteracy is still an important problem among this segment of the disability community and so of course, continued efforts need to be applied to help overcome this issue as well. I feel that the deaf are often short-changed in Web accessibility, if only when it comes to applying the very few WCAG guidelines that concern them. In my mind, just the fact that we are talking about their needs, something that I rarely see on these lists, can only be a good thing.


Catherine Roy, consultante