Vol 57 No. 16 : Sept. 1, 2005
Vol 57 No. 16 | Sept. 1, 2005
Chair Shines in World Wide Web Consortium
Every Friday, Wayne Dick meets people from Boston, Australia, Europe and many other places around the world without ever leaving Southern California. “The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) works out of MIT,” explained Dick, chair of Computer Science and Computer Engineering at CSULB. “I work directly with its Educational Outreach Working Group, a part of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), so on Fridays I wake up and do a teleconference with people who are calling in from around the world.”
There are many types of disabilities, including movement, hearing and tactile difficulties, to consider when discussing accessibility. Some Web forms have timed interfaces, which can close or move the page or the form before the user is ready. People who are prone to seizures have trouble with flashing content and need to run anti-flicker software since normal browsers do not turn these events off.
Dick believes that everyone can benefit from inventions or technological advances that assist the disabled Web user. “Forty-six percent of the employees on this campus are over 50,” Dick said. “That’s a lot of aging eyes in this population. Well, wouldn’t you like to have the print just a little bit bigger and maybe the lines spread out just a little bit farther and maybe read it in color that’s just a little bit more comfortable for you? It’s possible, now.”
Recently, Dick spearheaded the introduction of a product called Web Adapt2me, which allows users to adapt their Web viewing experience to their needs.
“WebAdapt2me allows for speaking text, so you can actually read along as the text is being spoken,” he explained. “It allows you to magnify, and that’s pictures and text. It allows you to control the set text size independent of your magnification so you can leave all your figures small and just enlarge the text. You can have pop-up images or none. You can hide any background that comes along that you don’t want to look at. You can have the controls on your browser larger. And it allows you to hear sounds when you’re typing because some people need audio feedback to know they’ve pushed the keys.
“Early on, I understood that computer science can make a difference in people’s lives, that it was going to remove a lot of the barriers,” Dick continued. “Thanks to all of these advances and activism, I believe that in my lifetime, we’re going to remove all barriers for people with disabilities who want to use the Internet.”
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