Archive for June, 2008

Channel 4 news piece on people with learning disabilities online

June 30, 2008

Channel 4 News has put out a report today, talking about how people with learning disabilities are being excluded online.

It was a really good piece which showed some of the real-life problems many people with learning disabilities have accessing information online. The report gave some examples including how difficult it is to find a job or anything about voting online. (We are doing some work around this issue at United Response).

The piece ran at 12 noon and I really hope it makes it into more news programmes. You can watch the piece or read the article on their website.

The best thing about it was that the report showed people with learning disabilities either using websites themselves or talking about the difficulties they face. Rather than someone else doing the talking for them.

The report featured people using assistive technologies at The Rix Centre and there was a great spokesperson from Mencap. I know the producer worked hard with lots of people, including United Response on this piece and guess what? I think we all said the same things.

It’s excellent that this has been highlighted in this way and I hope some good things come out of it.


RNIB Surf Right Toolbar

June 18, 2008

The RNIB has released a Beta version of its RNIB Surf Right Toolbar (for IE).

The RNIB Web Access Centre blog has everything you need to know about the Surf Right Toolbar including how to install it and information on its features.

The RNIB worked with The Web Accessibility Tools Consortium, and Steve Faulkner from the Paciello Group to make this toolbar for people who use Intenet Explorer. It enables users to access some of the accessibility features of the browser quickly by just using the toolbar. This includes turning images on and off and setting options.

It’s nice and big and easy to install. I also like the use of green ticks and red crosses.

Easy Flickr photo viewer

June 18, 2008

Christian Heilmann has been working on the Flickr API!

He’s created a simple picture viewer for Flickr which lets you search for 20 pictures at a time. It’s really easy to use with visual navigation to get you from one picture to another. And it just lets you search for pictures, with nothing else in the way!

Use this screen shot example to go to the player:

Easy Flickr screenshot

Once again, Christian has put time and effort into making it easy for other people to host the interface. You can get the documentation from his blog.

And he’s posted documentation on how he created the viewer on his site. Go to his step-by-step guide

Easy YouTube Player V2

June 13, 2008

Christian Heilmann has released the Easy YouTube Player V2. This is an enhanced version of the original one Christian developed.

Use this screen shot to go to the player:

Easy YouTube player version 2

Possible Benefits

There are many reasons why this player could make it easier for people with learning disabilties to watch YouTube videos. Here are some:

  • The buttons are big.
  • The colours act as clues or prompts to their functionality. Red is stop, green is go and so on.
  • The bar at the top to put the URL in is big. This has obvious benefits and also for people who have secondary impairments such as visual impairment or mobility issues.
  • The instructive text helps people to know what each of the options does.
  • People can search YouTube for topics which will appear in the playlist – this helps to answer my query as to how many people would know how to copy and paste a URL into the box at the top.
  • People have three options as to the size of the video they watch. In my experience, this has been a big issue (and this is one of the things I personally find the most exciting). Video without a resize option can often be missed or meaningless and this really gives users control.
  • It’s easy to control the volume and there is an indicator to visually represent its state.

User Testing

I will be doing extensive user testing on this player next week and the following week, with a range of people with learning disabilities. So the above are mostly my thoughts and those who have tested it to date.

Some things I will be testing:

  • Does it work? Is it clear and is it easier?
  • I am not sure if the wording I have provided is right.
  • It might be too big.
  • I am not sure if there are relativity issues in terms of the design- ie we may need to tweak the relative sizes of all the options if this is overwhelming for people. This is a possibility.
  • We may need to tweak the design elements themselves.
  • I am not sure if we have got the colours right.
  • Will people use the other options available to them, such as the playlists and This will be interesting and the whole area of playlists and favourites is one I would like to look into more, eventually.
  • Would we need to explain copying and pasting URLs in the first place. So far I have had to do this, so I may need to think of a fix.

Of course, there are lots of people with learning disabilities (or otherwise indeed) who use websites with support from a support worker/ carer/ friend etc. Hopefully, this will make it easier for everyone, not just people with learning disabilities themselves. And it should give people more control, more easily, over what they watch and how they watch it.

Player help documentation

Christian has also provided player help documentation which is even more of a bonus in my view.


Please feed back your thoughts on Christian’s blog or here. It would be good to get this as right as we can.

And then maybe YouTube can add it as a viewing option. :-)