Visually impaired blogging

One of my blog readers, John, is vision impaired and reads blogs with the use of adaptive technologies.He's wanting some advice on identifying online resources to assist him in finding a position in clerical work or customer service. John posts his questions here.

I figured that there are enough experienced bloggers and recruiters that read my blog to help John with some ideas:

Aside from Technorati, where can John go to locate blogs and or discussions relevant to his career pursuit (clerical/customer service) and telecommuting?

What blogging tools work well with adaptive technologies?

Comments (8)

  1. Darren Cox says:

    Hey, It’s your old pal Darren Cox.

    I don’t know a single thing about how to help someone with a vision imparement find a job, but here is some good info about what blogging tools work well with adaptive technologies.

    I found this at:

    The American Foundation for the Blind’s website.


    Bloglines (, is operated by Ask Jeeves, Inc. The Bloglines home page is accessible and easy to navigate. The links are well labeled, and the combo-boxes can be navigated when JAWS is in "forms mode"—the setting which allows JAWS users to fill out forms on a site.

    The accessibility issues on Bloglines are minor. They include:

    (1) An unlabeled company logo (which appears at the top of each page).

    (2) The "go" button in the site’s "search all blogs" feature (which has not been properly labeled). Other than the unreadable button label, the search tool is completely JAWS-friendly.

    (3) The "languages" feature, which allows the user to select which language they would like to view the contents of blogs in, contains some links that JAWS cannot read. This is likely because of the presence of accented characters, or graphical symbols that are commonly found in languages such as Chinese or Japanese.

    (4) A series of unlabeled image links, which appear on the Bloglines home page, just above the site’s main navigation menu.

    Although the Bloglines site is not 100% accessible, it allowed us to log in independently because there was no graphically based verification request, and no dealing with unintuitive user interfaces.

    Bloglines’ "register" feature is completely accessible when JAWS is in "forms mode." All of the fields, combo-boxes, and radio buttons in the registration form have been properly labeled, including the activation button at the end. After completing the registration form, the user receives a confirmation e-mail from Bloglines. Since this e-mail appears in the user’s preferred e-mail application, it is also accessible. The URL to validate the user’s registration can be accessed directly from the open e-mail message, or it can be pasted into the user’s web browser of choice. Once the user’s account has been created and validated, they can edit their profile (accessible except for two mislabeled radio buttons), and obtain help (in the form of a "frequently asked questions" page).

    New blogs can be created by visiting the "my blog" section of the Bloglines web site. Other than the icons that indicate whether or not the folders on the page are expanded or collapsed (which must be deciphered one character at a time), the page is JAWS-friendly.

    The user can easily enter, modify, and review text in the edit field when JAWS is in "forms mode." The field has not been labeled with any sort of instruction, such as "enter text of blog here," but because of the intuitive nature of the user interface, its purpose is easy to determine.

    Directly below the blog text entry field are a series of inaccessible combo-boxes that allow the user to choose a style, font type, and text size for the blog they have just created. JAWS indicates whether or not an item in the list has been checked, but the actual text of the item is not read aloud. The combo-box that allows the size of the blog text to be increased or decreased holds great accessibility potential, because it may provide users with low vision a greater degree of control when it comes to enhancing the readability of their own entries.

    Below these combo-boxes is a group of "clickable graphics." Based on the presence of a "view source" button, these options appear to represent a primitive type of HTML editor. These controls provide the user with more options in terms of giving style to the text they have created. For instance, the user can center, italicize, and justify their own blogs. However, one problem does exist. When a JAWS user clicks on these "clickable graphics," by using the "enter" key or the "space bar," no auditory feedback is provided to indicate that an action has been taken, or that changes to the text have been implemented.

  2. kevin higgins says:

    Saw this today on the BBC and thought about this post.

    A visually impaired browser created by IBM is about to go live. It was designed by a blind employee in Japan.

    "The A-Browser will give blind and partially-sighted people the same control over multimedia content that sighted people have using a mouse."

    "For the time being, she and her team are concentrating on content that is compatible with Real Player and Windows Media Player."

    Good news!

  3. Hello Darren.  First, I’d like to apologize for the delayed response.  My involvement in Heather’s blog is actually part of an assignment in the eSights E Learning Course which is geared to teach a person with a disability how to expand employment related networking via blogging.  This week was especially busy for me because not only was I involved in a difficult section in the course, I also was preparing, corresponding and interviewing for a potential opportunity with a disability employment staffing organization.  See below, for details.

    Thank you so much for the directions to the Blog Line web site.  I will be sure to check it out, since it really sounds like a very screen reader user friendly site.  This is absolutely a huge factor.  If the usability isn’t textual in nature and straight forward, my navigation on a web site can be extremely long and very frustrating, to put it lightly.  I was also impressed with your extensive understanding of the JAWS interface.  You did a very nice job in describing the Blog Line site for the JAWS user.  Your instructions are in my notes for future reference.  Once I complete this E Learning course in about 2-3 weeks, “Blog Line” will be an excellent place to start because of it’s usability.  I’ll also have much more time to initiate and maintain a blog.  In addition, I am in the process of creating an ePortfolio that will feature my artwork and published articles.

    I am a member of the AFB’s “Career Connect” which is a networking forum for blind/VI Mentors and mentees.  As an AFB Career Connect registered mentor and mentee, I keep in close contact with staff, as well as other blind mentors.  On occasion, I provide information to mentees that contact me for advice.  You can read my story and view postings of my wildlife art at,

    The above organization I interviewed with on Friday 03/30/07, has a local office here in Harrisburg and a unique and powerful mission in assisting and/or creating job opportunities for individuals with disabilities.  Unfortunately, like most other self-proclaimed disability sensitive staffing agencies, (and I’ve established relationships with many over the years), cannot or will not try hard enough to find “company clients” that can make their applications compatible with JAWS screen reading software.  This particular organization has only one client contract and confirmed during my interview, software for this contract is extremely difficult to adapt to JAWS.  In addition, I discovered many aspects with the client employer that did not appeal to me on a personal level.  However, despite the seemingly grim outlook for the screen reader employee, I am hoping to persuade the local project manager and CEO to give me an opportunity to work for them as an advocate for their organization.  In other words, I believe very strongly in the staffing agency’s mission statement and I believe that they need to act more like an employment agency, the only difference being, we locate employers/job functions of the greatest demand who are receptive and offer the easiest means for adaptations.   I realize that this kind of proposal is a long shot, but I feel that if the so-called disability assistive agencies really want to be completely inclusive, (meaning opportunity for totally blind), they need to establish relationships with companies that utilize a standard windows environment that can be easily adapted to JAWS right out of the box.  In other words, let’s seek out open-minded companies whose software is compatible with little to no scripting.  I could never understand why disability staffing agencies will not go this route.  Anyway, I will make an appeal to them and I am sure that I will be turned down because of policy rules or budget concerns, etc.  Hey, it’s worth a shot!  Thanks again for the great blog resource and JAWS sensitive instructions!


  4. Hello Kevin.  So sorry for the delayed response, (see reply to Darren Cox).  The A Browser sounds like an incredible advancement in accessibility for blind computer users in the Real Player and Windows Media environment, of which I use and am quite familiar.  I truly appreciate the info and will save the URL you provided for future reference.  John

  5. Hello Heather.  Thank you so much for posting the topic, “Visually Impaired Blogging” and drawing attention to my plea for help for a “first time blogger”.  As you know, I got a very nice resource from Darren.  I am not sure if your blog was intentionally designed with accessibility in mind, or simply easy to use by chance, in either case, your blog is a good model for “blind friendly usability”.  

    I would also like to point out to your readers that any resources pertaining to “blogging for job leads/networking” for office professionals do not necessarily have to be connected to a blindness or disability assistive organization.  I am willing to explore any mainstream resource, as long as it may be relevant to my field of interest.

    Thanks again for your wonderful support!  


  6. Darren Cox says:

    hey, It’s Darren again

    I wish I could take credit for my response, but I copied most of what I wrote directly from the link I provided.

    I had to do a little digging but, since most of my career I have been invoved in marketing and strategy for software targeted to Higher Education and Government, it wasn’t that hard to find once I got going.  I’m glad that I could be of some help and I hope you find what you are looking for.

  7. John,

    My name is Dan and I am the Technical Evangelist for the Accessible Technology Group here at Microsoft. Darren gives some good pointers. I can’t help with pointing you to blogs related to job leads/networking but you can contact me if you have any specifiic questions related to assistive technology. If I don’t have the answers I can get you in touch with the people that can.

    Also I am very interested to know more about the experience you detailed in your comment re: your interview with the AFB.

    I can be reached at (


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