week11y issue 72

Your weekly frequent11y newsletter, brought to you by @ChrisBAshton:

Clubhouse, the Shift to Spoken Social Media, and the Voices That Will Be Silenced

  • Lawrence Weru discusses the Clubhouse app and what it is like as a person with a stutter. The invite-only app can gather over 1,000 people together in “rooms” for voice chats, where you can raise a ‘hand’ to ask to speak on the stage. He describes the anxiety stutterers feel when ‘raising the hand’ to speak on Clubhouse, and the instinct to just stay silent.
  • Lawrence has listened to several hours of Clubhouse conversations per week, but it was 49 days before he heard someone with a stutter take to the stage. To put that into context, around 15% of Americans have a speech/language/voice disorder, often starting between the ages of 2 and 6, with a 1 in 4 chance of it staying for life.
  • There is an increasing reliance on voice to interact with technology, making life difficult for stutterers: automated phone systems which require specific words without substitution, and Siri/Alexa which misinterpret pauses in speech as the end of the command. Clubhouse, and Twitter’s similar new “Spaces” feature, are continuing the move towards real-time voice. There’s an unfortunate lack of suggested solutions in the article, but it is worth a read to be made aware of the issue.

Checking Windows High Contrast Mode on a Mac for free

  • Microsoft estimates that 60 million people use Windows High Contrast Mode (WHCM) regularly. The mode is under-tested compared to VoiceOver, which Adrian Roselli claims is over-represented. Marcus Herrmann shares his tips for developers wanting to test WHCM on their Apple machines:
    • Download VirtualBox.
    • Get a Windows 10 virtual machine (VM).
    • Write down the Windows admin password – which is Passw0rd! – as you’ll be asked for it a lot.
    • Launch VirtualBox and select your virtual machine. Optional: use VirtualBox to take a restorable ‘snapshot’ as soon as you’ve got it working, as the Windows license on these VMs expire after 90 days.
    • To activate WHCM, click on the search field next to the Start button and search for “high contrast”.
  • Marcus notes that there are 4 High Contrast themes available in Windows 10: “High Contrast Black”, “High Contrast White”, “High Contrast #1” and “High Contrast #2”. You should ideally test in each.

Uber ordered to pay $1.1m to blind woman who was refused rides 14 times

  • Lisa Irving filed a complaint against Uber in 2018, after, on multiple occasions, being denied a ride or being harassed by Uber drivers not wanting to transport her and her guide dog. An independent arbitrator this month ruled in her favour, ordering Uber to award her £790,000, or $1.1 million.
  • Ms Irving’s lawyers said: “Of all Americans who should be liberated by the rideshare revolution, the blind and visually impaired are among those who stand to benefit the most. However, the track record of major rideshare services has been spotty at best and openly discriminatory at worst”.
  • Uber had claimed that it wasn’t liable for its drivers conduct because they were contractors. This has been struck down in the UK after a lengthy legal battle, and was dismissed by the arbitrator, who concluded that Uber still had contractual supervision over the drivers.

Add punctuation to your alt text

  • Eric Bailey reminds us that we should always finish our alt text with punctuation, such as a full stop/period. This makes the screen reader voice pause slightly before announcing the next words in the sequence, which feels a lot more natural. Example code:
  • <img src="puppy.jpg" alt="A golden retriever puppy wearing a tiny raincoat." />

Chrome now instantly captions audio and video on the web

  • Live Captions, Google’s real-time captioning feature, is available now on Chrome. The technology, which first appeared on Pixel phones in 2019, has captions appearing as a small, movable box at the bottom of the browser. The captions are generated in real time from the sound of the audio, so there is a slight delay and a fair few mistakes, but it is still a useful feature, and works offline too.
  • “Live Captions can be enabled in the latest version of Chrome by going to Settings, then the Advanced section, and then Accessibility.”

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