Accessibility beyond the desktop
- Lucy Dodd (Panel Chair), BBC
- Veronika Jermolina, AbilityNet
- Greg Fields, RIM Blackberry
- Henny Swan, Opera
- Damon Rose, BBC
- Julian Harty, Google
thank you for coming back, we are so keen to get cracking we have brought you back early so we can have a bit more of the panel. The next session in the mobile expert panel. Talking about accessibility beyond the desktop, about huge potential, and the significant pitfalls of accessibility. Lucy, who will be chairing it will introduce the rest of the Panel. Lucy Dodd is an accessibility and usability expert from the BBC. She is chair of the accessibility working group there. She has recently under taken an extensive research project into the requirements of Mobile BBC web page content and she is also in the process of drafting the first set of mobile guidelines for the BBC. In recent years, she has been extensively involved in the development of the iPlayer, a very successful accessibility project and also in the redesign of the BBC home page, BBC concerned home, UK and also mobile accessibility – the mobile version of the BBC home page I will hand you to Lucy to introduce the rest of the Panel thank you, Lucy.
Can everybody hear me? Thank you very much Robin, I will pay you to do my CV as well later, that sounded really good. Thank you very much for inviting me here today to chair this Panel. I’ve never actually a chaired a Panel before so my terms of reference are question time and loose women. So should be a bit of a weird combination. Just to quickly introduce everybody in the Panel. Then, I will allow them to talk for a few minutes each about what their stance is on accessibility away from the desktop so I think we’ll start with Julian.
Julian Harty is a Senior Test Engineer at Google but nobody knows that he is here today, so I don’t know if he will get sacked when he gets back to work.
Then there is Damon Rose, a fellow colleague of mine at the BBC, who produces the Ouch! website which is the BBC’s flagship disability website.
Then Gregg, who presented earlier, who you all know, unless you came in late. Greg Fields is the accessibility product manager at Research in Motion.
Then we have Henny Swan a Woman Evangelist.
And Veronika Jermolina, an accessibility consultant from AbilityNet. Veronika do you want to say a bit about what you think and feel about accessibility beyond desktop?
This is the second panel for me today, the first was manning the registration desk, I hope this will be less stressful.
I want to tell you briefly about the research I conducted in 2008 at AbilityNet and and City University. I will tell you the most significant findings and we’ll look at shopping and mobile web experiences for people with disabilities.
So, first of all the most important finding from my research was the penetration of Nokia devices amongst people with visual impairments was much hire than Nokia’s world penetration. 76% of respondents who reported visual impairments had a Nokia phone or device. Compared to 40% Nokia’s world penetration.
The second finding was the fact that there are fewer assistive technologies available on mobile devices. For example, the next popular assistive technology, the first being the screen reader, was changing text and background colours and themes, and magnifications on a PC. These were used by respondents on the PCs but no-one mentioned this was actually possible on their mobile phone or the fact they were using it.
Also, no-one reported the use of Voice Recognition Software on any other assistive technologies used by people with motor impairments. Functionality that people would like to access that were then inaccessible were the Internet, 29%, the camera, the GPS and maps.
Secondly, I will look at the shopping experience for people with disabilities. One issue was the license fees when buying a new phone. The second barrier to their experience was the fact that we use dummy handsets in the shops which for some people is impossible to explore the menu and get an idea of the phone. Then backing up and restoring data was an unnecessary difficulty and caused people to be less likely to choose a phone or think twice before doing that.
Then this altogether led to less choice for people and the fact that people rely on community advice, such as friends and the community to tell them about the phones that worked for them.
Finally the experience of mobile web surfing. 60% of questionnaire respondents had never used the Internet on their mobile phone and the barriers were such as surprise bills, the need for technical skills to set up access points, confusing pay plans full of jargon, for example “web and walk on U-fix” for T Mobile. An important part of an inaccessible experience of mobile web browsing were the inaccessible network provider websites. Generally I felt the reward of browsing the web on a mobile device for these people was actually less than the effort needed.
So that’s it from me Lucy, thank you very much. I am going to pass back to Lucy.
Thank you, Veronika. Greg are you ready to talk? .
Certainly. Because I work for a Corporation I need 30 seconds of propaganda time to add and you can feel free to look at the slide thereafter. About Research in Motion BlackBerry products all it is propaganda you can look at after. Head quarters in Canada, we’re not an American company. We make BlackBerry; 29m users around the world, BlackBerry is ten years old. We make more than devices we make the BlackBerry Smartphone and also the Smartphone platform. We make the device software applications, desktop software for synching. We are a bigger software manufacturer than hardware manufacturer. The data from our network operative centre is larger than T-Mobile’s and we also have software licensing programmes and accessories, lots of stuff. Focused on accessibility since 2004. We are located in R and D as opposed to within federal regulatory or other teams so it is easier to get things done. We are on the team doing things the rest propaganda stuff you can see later. I want to focus on three slides.
One, transit Mobile, transit Mobile accessibility and opportunities mobile accessibility. From a transit perspective we have seen that there is a lot more focus on the platform as opposed to the hardware. Talking about BlackBerry, Android, iPhone, many instances, platforms and features as opposed to the latest specific device itself. There is a large number of touch screen devices which provide solutions to some, and barriers to others.
A little plug, Georgia Tech University will publish in a week usability study with touch screen devices, BlackBerry Storm, iPhone and touch. In the lab, people with disabilities, in the home and longitudinal study. There are app stores everywhere, carriers have their own, vendors have their own. There are a lot of them. But it is good and bad. Wireless has surpassed landline activation in many countries in the world, so mobile is the predominant experience. As opposed to in the past landlines, the experience you are trending to. iPhone individuals who may not have used the web previously now use the web on a mobile device. In some cases, sophisticated if not rich Internet access. Now you will see more in widgets enabled web applications. Palm tree is a great example where aps look like (inaudible) they are widgets.
Mobile accessibility. Accessible doesn’t mean simply accessible to a blind individual. What other solutions need to be available on mobile that aren’t, but are available on desktop. Third party themes as a way to manage user interface, customisations that we have heard about previously, something people are using often. Mobile AAC applications, if you are an individual with a communication disorder and you have to pay, I think it is 8,000 Euro for a alternative communication device. If you can spend 100 or a couple of hundred quid and a couple of hundred more for software and have picture based communication on a mobile phone, it is a new opportunity that didn’t exist previously. And prologo to go was the first.
Platform accessibility. Platform specific solutions as opposed to forcing AT to do their own thing and scrape screens. The two vendors that have implemented and a third one soon is BlackBerry and iPhone from a platform perspective. Availability of DAD guides student research, mass market application developers who want to care about access have a tool to help them.
Server side speech recognition. Something starting to happen as opposed to doing it on the device. Dragon naturally speaking doesn’t exist for mobile but you can do it on the server side. Opportunity in mobile access built where there are development guides and APIs we need to make it easier for developers to develop ATs for Mobile. We could learn from the desktop and web. Dead camp days, bring individuals with experience in AT, experience in mass market mobile development, individual users, etcetera.
Created dedicated solutions via feature so making an ap as opposed to a whole solution. Making accessible native web aps. Bluetooth standard AT interface. Real time text for emergency 911 and open source. All opportunities.
Thank you, Greg. Henny, ready? Off we go then.
I am Henny Swan, from Opera, we make browsers not just for desktop but also for mobile devices, games consoles like Nintendo Wii. I come from the web content world, the accessibility world, into the browser world. So, I am looking at how we can make our browser more accessible to users with disabilities, while also talking to developers to hear about their concerns and issues about how to make content accessible to users with disabilities.
So, I guess really, accessibility beyond the desktop. Is it reality or myth? In the picture I have got up on screen here a certain flame haired God of accessibility’s tattoo which shows and on button play button and stop button so is that keyboard accessible or not? I just wonder where the speakers go to be honest!. I am trying to figure out how to make web content more accessible, is it possible today? I personally believe we are at a bit of a crossroads. Yocov Neilson(???) did usability research on people using mobile and web earlier this year. Not people with disabilities and he found people found it incredibly difficult to browse on line and the upshot, we should build separate Moby websites or iPhone only websites. I fell off my chair in horror, made me think we are back to the issues around desktop in 98 where people felt technology was such we had to build disability ghettos in the form of text only websites. My concern is that we are going to go down that route and make similar mistakes today.
So, rather than do that, I think we should learn from the mistakes of early desktop and skip straight fast forward to using web standards for our mobile web designs, HTML, CSS Java script, XML you know how to do this, it is part of core skills. Then over let it with guidelines like mobile web best practices, web content accessibility guidelines. There is in fact cross over between the two which the WC 3 have done a cross over document, they have captured, given the title of relationship between mobile webbed best practice ….. We have got core skills knowledge and guidance out there and we need to take it to start building accessible content now. However I think we need to build on top of that and start using some of the emerging new technologies we have coming out there. So we have stuff like WAI-ARIA and how we can port that over to mobile content. CSS media queries. So we can target specific devices and their screen sizes so we can target their level of support, CSS, to render more appropriate content on different mobiles. Also HTML 5, very much in the future, not here yet but I think what HTML 5 can offer mobile web development and accessibility is really quite exciting. Looking at, for example, audio and video on the web which is often a problem for us all, you know, not to pick on Adobe – sorry mat I will get you a Guiness later, Flash is a problem on desktop and mobile but HTML5, support of audio and video tag may mean it is more possible to render video on mobile that’s accessible. We have technology like dual location where the browsers knows where you are and can seen synch you to content relevant to your location,. Let’s not make the same mistakes as 98. I believe progressive enhancement applies as much to mobile as desktop with media types and queries, set a baseline, we have accessibility supported technologies on the web content accessibility guidelines. Let’s do something similar for mobile. Test opera have a product, opera Dragon fly, – the only one of its kind. Stick to one web, where possible. Avoid dot Moby and iPhones as well.
Yes. Is this working? Good. Hello. I am Damon, the only one who has not done any kind of presentation or prepared anything today I am afraid it is a new regime of mine. I guess I think I want to talk about what interests me, partly through what I observe as the editor of the Ouch! website and some of it listening to Henny, I am afraid I am going to go head to head on what you have said a second ago but only in a small way and it is interesting.
First of all, I guess this is about going beyond the desktop, which I spend most of the day doing, so this is more about what I’m passionate about really. I use mobile phone and I use video, a video devices, and I use set top boxes, and all of these things are obviously web and what with convergence and whatever round the corner or somewhere in the middle, access to all these are very important. The mobile phone, what I’m using my mobile phone for at the moment might be interesting. I think a lot of blind people think that, they are expecting an awful lot from mobile phone. It is a real killer device. Presently blind people are using it to surf the web. I have moved up to Ipswich and I have a very long commute and I have started using the mobile Internet and I have got lots of fantastic newspapers booked marked on it. So I am reading the Guardian, Telegraph, Twitter, Facebook, all those things on mobile it is something of a trend at the moment, and this is where I come to the little bit head to head with Henny on this one. I am noticing blind people talking about mobile websites and really loving them and because they are cut down, very cut down versions of websites. The old text only websites in the 90s were different. Text only, it was confusing, text only, only having text, didn’t make a web site accessible necessarily, so that was a bit of a misnomer. The other thing is that disabled people, because they knew it was especially for them, expected it to be a bad version of the original website, whereas a mobile version of the site is something that people are having trust in, they recognise it is for the mass market and that mass market isn’t about to be short changed.
So, it does seem that the smarter people are saying “The Guardian don’t bother with their main site, I go to straight to the browser and desktop. When we talk about inaccessibility of websites it is interesting that one of the big things that developers should look at is not destroying web experiences, it is great, all your the tags and all those kind of things and making the website readable is fantastic and loads of websites have come on in leaps and bounds. But what I don’t think a lot of people do realise is that the biggest inaccessibility is the website that actually destroys the experience, they whip you, it is for blind people, they whip the cursor away and stop you from reading what is on the website and that is down to Flash and Java and goodness knows what else. There is other people who would understand that a lot better than me. Mobile phones, blind people are expecting a lot from them. I’m using it, I have a GPS system built in, I use wayfinder access, so I can find my way around, and I am loving, there is a blind collective of people out there who corrected a product called “lodestone” which is amazing, it doesn’t have to deliver a really complicated map oriented solution to finding your way round, they have got a brilliant thing when if your path crosses over a certain coordinate, it will vibrate in your pocket, so that is brilliant and very helpful in situations when for instance I am walking down Oxford street and I want to get to Next, for instance, and just I don’t need a big map but if I am walking vaguely in the right direction I get a vibration in my pocket I know I’m outside Next, so things like that are helpful and accessibility to apps that are not necessary full blown maps are useful. I wanted to do talk about set top boxes briefly. Set top boxes, very briefly, sorry, really interesting at the moment and looking at X box live vision for instance, loving the fact that you have got, you can have live realtime conversations in video there and so what I’m seeing is set top boxes are not necessarily about TV and radio for disabled people, they can be empowering devices that bring about good independent living, so for instance, I can wave a tin of beans in front of my TV and say “mum”, other end down in Kent, “what is this?” and she will say “It’s pineapple chunks, I wouldn’t put those on top of your toast”, or those kind of things. Going out, does my suit look all right, that kind of thing, so I can see things like that being built in to the set top box and it being great enablers for instance a description from my sister, or something along those lines would be helpful. I’m also using the flip a bit. I have talked enough.
We can get more questions for Damon who loves to talk later. Finally Julian, can you tell us about what your views are on accessibility away from desktop.
I am Julian, Google and I am going to have to run after this talk, so I will give you my E mail address now and if you remind the end I will do it again in case you want to get in touch. It is JHRTY at Google.com, you are welcome to hassle me about anything in terms of accessibility. I am here because I really care about helping computers adapt to humans, rather than vice versa and that includes mobile devices I was excited to work with TV Raman, from Google in the States who developed the Istreet applications for the android phones and he did it by himself without much support from the teak who were secret at the time and he took the touch free and invented a new way of using it and implemented things like gesture input, allows you to use your finger as a dialler, even though it is a touch screen by using relative positioning rather than absolute and from that developed a whole series of applications and then all the source codes available online, so other people can write applications and modify it. When I was at the text share conference on Thursday and Friday a couple of blind developers have already suggested that they are writing these applications based on this simple library that means it isn’t just Google writing applications it is people interested in writing applications and it is changing the way we do things. Raman started this work because he started using niewrnsed talks on the Nokia phone but he got frustrated with paying a licence fee when he changed his phone and got frustrated that many areas of the phone were inaccessible to him and limited in terms of functionality so he moved on and did something about it and this is what what I’m hoping to encourage other people to do. My challenge is to help it happen within and without Google.
Thank you. Now we have got half an hour for questions. Does anyone have any questions for the panel at all?
I have a microphone here. This is a question for Henny and all the panel. This potential conflict between creating a mobile only version of a website and using the main site. I am firmly, as a blind screen reader user, a firm fan of a site where there is much more limited functionality and content, core functionality and core content served up when I am surfing on the mobile and sometimes use it in desktop as well but I’m wondering and I hope you will think this is a feasible suggestion that you can use the mobile style sheet to serve up a much more cut down version so you are not looking seat gre gaytion the same source code, but clever implementation of the mobile style sheet for the mobile browsers that present themselves as such to cut down and turn the main nav into a combo box so it is easier.
That is pretty much what I was trying to convey with use of CSS. You have one website, you re skin it so it renders appropriately for different browsers. I think Damon is right, and I knew this would come up and I was hoping it would come up in that there are a lot of people, not just screen reader users who do have a preference for .mobi sites because of the cut down content and it is much more targeted to you as a user when you are out in a different context on the move and I think the way around so that we don’t go down the route of having 2 separate sites, the way around dealing with this, on top of separate style sheets is personalisation. And Facebook, everyone always says to me I use .mobi facebook because it is easier, many screen readers use this as an example of an argument for a mobile version. I say it is because it is not particularly usable anyway, it is not the most accessible anyway but what they are doing right is adding in a little bit of personalisation, so being able to port over your preferences on to a mobile or have multiple profiles so that you can have your mobile preferences and your desktop preferences would be perfect, so you have the same content and you are not potentially locked out of that content, because the one thing that annoys me with, say, twitter on their mobile version is they don’t give youth option to direct message to someone. And to me, that is harking back to the old issues we had of text websites when all the core functionality was there, so spot on Robin, thank you.
We have question in the audience, but Julian has something to say…
So, Google we get a certain amount of web traffic, probably more than most sites, and one of the things we have learned is that mobile is different. And we have different mobile sites because the users have a different imperative. They are typically trying to solve a problem immediately: I need to find a pizza place near me… Whereas if I do it on a desktop I might be waiting for a word file, so I think we learned that mobile sites tend to work better for people and I am all for having inclusive sites and relevant functionality but there are clear differences in the usage patterns. The second point is having different CSS files to modify the contents. The trouble is if simply applied is one my one megabyte source file now renders 20 words but guess what you just paid to download over your intermittent connection, so by optimising the page size to reduce it to a minimum, we are likely to give a much better user experience. Again I am all for that on a desktop. I am not saying we shouldn’t do it but desktop users tend to have different usage profiles. And if we look at things like rich media, it is much more likely that our desktop, like my 14 year old daughter, she watches You Tube incessantly and it is a different usage pattern than issues on a mobile phone.
Could you stand up and say who you are and where you are from. We are running this like a press conference.
New speaker: John Waterworth
John Waterworth, currently at the centre for HCI design at City University.
Interesting question, Christian mentioned the Wii and how interesting the Wii was because you waive your hand and point. One of the other speakers mentioned a lot of people liking mobile sites because they are so simple the thought that triggered for me is that lot of the concentration on the panel was about smart phones and accessing the web. The majority of people use regular phones and for the majority of people they have low usability scores. Everyone says they are packed with features they don’t want, they just want to make a phone call and send a text. To what extent are we talking about accessibility issues or an issue that in a lot of cases mobile devices are too complex and unusable for a large variety of people and if we simplify them as people mentioned with the mobile types, if we make it simpler and more usable is it going to be a big win, an accessibility win for everyone.
Who would you like that question to go to?
Julian…. Although Julian you have spoken already.
Thanks for the question I was doing my research and I started off investigating the accessibility of mobile devices. I very quickly realised that we can’t just talk about how accessible a device is, because in reality we are talking about accessibility of a mobile service, so we have the providers, we have the manufacturers, we have people who provide our applications [inaudible] we have very many stakeholders in that chain. So, my answer to you question would be that the solution to that would be to do user testing and to work to involve all the stakeholders in the process and basically be guided by usability. Sorry, by accessibility.
I would like to add a couple of bits about that actually, because I recently did some research myself into as Robin said disabled users and how they are using the BBC’s cross platform services. And we did actually find exactly what John just commented about, which is that basically within the industry we are very focused on developing the next whizzy thing, which is actually very much to do with what the developers are thinking and feeling while they are working on that thing and getting very excited about what they would like to do and experiment with on phones and other mobile applications and platforms but sometimes they are detached from user s and what they are doing on phones. We are not just talking about people with disabilities here, we are talking about users, in general the public, and so what came out in the focus groups that I ran was that a lot of the users just wanted to do the basic’s which was make a phone call, text some rends, and in fact interesting the most advanced users in the focus groups who were recruited with the same skillset, so there weren’t any majorly advanced users. I wasn’t looking for a comparison, were the users who had hearing impairments or who were deaf. And they were the, probably the early adopters I would describe them as within that group, because they love the fact that they can communicate so much with so many different applications on the new iPhones and they were the only group in the focus groups who had the newest phones and technologies in their pocket s and one guy had 5 different types of phone and PDA right there in the focus groups, he had all the time on him, because he just loved the fact that he could communicate all the time with any one, whether hearing or not. And made use of the web a lot on his phone, whereas the users who were blind really did have major major difficulties in learning the access technology and then on top of that how to navigate and use the web. So they had a huge learning curve and then we had users with very severe motor disabilities who just couldn’t use a phone, because I think we had 3 users and they had very little use of their upper body at all, if at all, and one guy had actually had to do a fix where he connected his phone via Bluetooth to his PC to text and he said it was easier to ask his helper to bring his laptop around with him because he could use dragon. Now a lot of us would think that is not a mobile, it is a huge laptop, but for him that was hs mobile and it was his way of communicating. So to finish my point is that we always need to be thinking about the user and talking to the user and I think Julian you might have something interesting to say about how you have been working with users.
Not quite but I will make a couple of points briefly. The first is a new application for Google called wave announced this year and rolled out at the moment. This came from a challenge that if you didn’t have to deal with all the legacy of the internet how do you use the Internet today, what could you do with the Internet with high bandwidth Broadband, this reinvented communication and this we’ll no doubt morph and change I was in Australia recently where the development team is. They explained the Deaf Association are desperate to use this for group communications and share ideas. For the first time deaf people can talk in real time. You have an auto translator that as you types HELLO in English, its translates that into French. If HELL is a very different word from hello so you see the translation change it means we have real time communications between people which means that for a certain group with disabilities this real helps them have a Level Playing Field. I will mention Android again, because Andriod is an open platform. It means people can take the phone, and rewrite the software. I admit most of you ain’t going to do his. Developers can reskin remove user interface, put a new one on and it works. Great talk from Christian this morning inspired me to think about people with motor disabilities who can gesture with a for head or something and to use it on a touch screen to control the phone to communicate the sort of innovative applications I hope to see people develop, whether in Google, outside Google, other platforms. I don’t really care , I want to see it happen though.
Thank you. I thought you had some interesting stories about accessibility testing but we’ll talk about that later now. Loads of questions. I will go to Christian.
Straight to the flame haired warrior. What is your name and where do you come from?
New Speaker: Leonie Watson
Leonie Watson from Nomensa, sorry the flame haired one in the corner, Mike I think. Quick question, listening to quite a few points people have made. I think there is broad agreement that in an ideal world what we have is one information source and a choice of content delivery mechanisms. Does that mean what we really need to do is look at how that mechanism might be built or made available so we have one information source depending if you are looking on a mobile device desktop or whatever might come in the future, you are getting the same information and functionality but delivery just tailored to the platform and may not be particular to people’s choices. Can we imagine a time when people might have their profile set up to say I want less information, certain character limit on text lines, this colour contrast, that voice capability and have that plug into whatever information source you are viewing.
Thank you for the question. Do you have anyone in mind you want to direct that to.
Probably Julian or Henny from Google and Opera.
In terms of web content for designers or developer I agree again back to personalisation and also what I mentioned earlier portable profiles, which are tailored to the context that you are in. So whether at your desk, at work, or at home playing on the wee WAI and browsing on opera on the wii or on mobile speaking as a browser maker it is a very very interesting questions in terms of how we can facilitate the user to manipulate content to deliver the way that I fits them. I have been looking at the way browser innovation can push desktop browser innovation. I know Julian has something to say on this, at Opera we have finger touch – terrible name but the technology is great, we’ll roll it out soon, it is in beta at the moment but it is where you have content on screen. Say you have three check boxes, one of which you need to hit the finger on a touch screen or something. When you do, you get the wrong one. I find this constantly. What finger touch does it zooms in on the three options so you can comfortably access the option that you want. I was thinking, great, how about we see how it works on the desktop. So, I think you are right, there is a collaboration that needs to happen between content author and browser maker to ensure we do these things correctly. I think it is a very big shift on the mobile web or with the web beyond the desktop as well, depending on context, because you can’t assume anything, because you don’t know where the user is and what they are doing.
Julian, would you like 15 seconds to say something and then we’ll take the next question.
Great question. What I hope to see is the application is the paradigm shift, the thing that changes people’s mindsets. In larger companies, developers have enough to do in their day job, they will say personalisation is great and customising is too difficult for now I will put it off until the next release, which normally means never when someone comes out with the killer application that changes the mindset, like iPhone changed the mobile phone market, then we’ll see the rest of the world change its mind and I really want to see the applications.
In research people have problems finding mobile phones that work for certain disabilities, because there are dummy phones in the shops and they were relying on word on mouth of other people with disabilities to find the right mobile phone. Why isn’t there a website about it, why isn’t there a mobile phone comparison website in terms of accessibility, how easy it is to use it for elderly people as well. I would love mobile phone providers jumping over each other to make the coolest accessible phone.
I was not aware of it Henny is telling me there is a website. My participants, like people without disabilities, they use social networks Twitter using the same means to communicate between each other so the position of my participants was that if something better had come out I would have known about this, because I have these friends in the states who always use the latest technology. So I found that it was very much a community thing. I am not sure if they used a specific forum or not but Henny might want to tell us if there is one.
I am not aware of a forum, except that word of mouth is the ultimate marketing tool and something I learned from Veronika last week at Techshare is users tended to stick with what they had unless someone they trusted told them something else was out there. Ie they did not explore so much on mobile there is a website. If you do a, I am not going to be partisan, do a a such for mobile accessibility it should pop up. It is fairly basic broken down into deafness, mobility, learning and so forth and targeted at the end user in terms what platform they could aim to go and buy.
Given I work for people I work with a lot of carriers and disabilities advocacy organisations and we have had this discussion over the last three years. The same question, who could own the information. Who would be able to have the resources to up-date a page every other day? So all the different options,. Then is that the advocacy organisation who is a charity who may not have money for it, the hand set vendor or carrier. Who knows enough about everything the device, service and access to have a truly updated and resourceful site. It maybe a great idea and until someone does it for one disability segment to prove it is possible.
I will say one thing Damon. That is something I would like to say is currently in the pipeline with the BBC actually. We do have a site called my web my and way, that currently takes an independent look at what you can do on the web to make adjustments to make the look and feel slightly more accessible for users without obviously promoting any particular device or anything. I have been in discussions with various people and looking at a way of developing my web my way into something like ‘my mobile my way. Obviously BBC about an see seen to be advertising or taking favour over anybody else but it would be looking at how and providing advice on how users can make certain changes to their mobile interface more to improve things. I will just pass you to Damon.
Just a very small point really. I have often suggested this in different mailing lists and areas, that blind people talk. There is a strong culture of mailing lists among blind people and they share a lot of information that way, outlook and email is a lot more accessible than the web.
I would just like to add something. I have looked at my web my way and tried to structure my research in the same way to come up with a guide for people but I quickly realised, because of the differences between PCs and mobiles, it would not be possible. For example, my web my way is structured for 3 operating systems windows, Lynus and Mac OS. In mobile we have Simbian, Android, RIM, BlackBerry, etcetera and updates hitch are faster than anyone can type up this guide so maybe the solution can be in crowd sourcing, using intelligence of people.
I am hijacking the mic. On desktop we have graded browser support – hello Yahoo!. How about something similar for mobile. Hello Yahoo!. .
New Speaker: Matt May
My name is Matt May, accessibility engineering lead at Adobe systems, thank you by the way, Henny, I will have that Guiness. My question fits in there, Henny mentioned Flash is a problem in the mobile space and I would agree with that statement for a number of reasons, flash light has been on mobile Platts form before accessibility API was conceived on these platforms. But we are moving now into releasing the full Flash player into a number of platforms including BlackBerry and Android. The question for Julian. Looking at accessibility API, I have found they have been similar enough, they are just difficult enough – enough of a pain to have to develop one accessibility implementation for each platform, similar enough they could be standardised. My question is have you and apple and Simian and marker soft got together to discuss standardising API for mobile accessibility?
Anyone specific you want to ask that question to?
Greg and Julian as the hardware vendors.
Before you answer that question, Kath can you bring the mic to the front, there is a guy who would like to ask a question.
A couple of questions there, one have manufacturers decided to compete with a single interface on mobiles when its not been done on the desktop? No. Because Flash light users its own user interface objects the similarity is extending it to the broker the same way on different platforms so you can on apple, you can on BlackBerry extend your unique core UI components you are developing yourself the same way there is similarity but you are 100% right they will continue to be different. Two large competitors won’t have the same calls and there won’t be a nerd for it as opposed to working closely together. I spoke to Andrew Kirkpatrick about this four years ago, it is more talking to be had but probably unrealistic that all mobile vendors will have the same API.
New Speaker: Chris Michael
Chris Michael, BT. I have got a comment hypothesis and also question predominantly for you from the BBC. One, my hypothesis is that, isn’t this concept of a mobile web slightly misleading because actually, the real is people are using the Internet on a range of different devices, in a range of different ways. Also, people have got different needs and different requirements for how they want to use the Internet or what they want to use the web for. It is not just about, for example you have someone who might have a computer and they might want a very basic simplified user experience with cut down content and cut down functionality. You might have someone on a mobile device that wants the full web experience. To give an example, I am a big fan of the BBC website, a big cricket fan. I found it frustrating at one point on mobiles where I would try and access live cricket scores on the BBC website on my Mobile and was given a cut down interface. I was forced into a cut down interface. What I really wanted was the full live scores which wasn’t available. Since then number of things have changed but. One of the questions and concerns I have got is that how realistic is it for brands to manage and particularly like the BBC, how do you manage and financially justify dealing with all these different users on all these different platforms, whether mobile, whether someone sitting at home. How can you build a business case to create yet another experience? Actually, that is kind of what users are asking for, I think.
Damon you want to answer this or – it is the BBC voice, but we can both answer.
In terms of branding I think, well, I mean , I work in the user experience and design team at the BBC. So coming on from that perspective it is really important to ensure you are consistent in the look and feel across platforms. So what you are offering on line, that should be replicated as Henny said earlier, that you are not getting different functionality necessarily or different experience, so when your users go from news on line to news on mobile, they are not flummoxed by completely different look and feel so you are backing up your brand across. It looks the same. In terms of content you need to offer something slightly lighter because of cost and download time etcetera etcetera and accessibility and usability. In terms of business case it is quite a difficult one. It is always a big question I like to ask managers at the BBC. But the thing is, we at the BBC, have got our license fee payers, we are constantly doing market research all the time, it is a consistent wheel turning, we have a market research department constantly running focus groups about interactive TV platforms, what people want from interactive TV, if they want it at all, what else they want in their living room as well as what they are doing on mobile and what they need and want from mobile. Those are things that feed into the business case and how we finance those in terms of priorities audiences. Then you have to look at, which is more Damon’s expertise, the editorial proposition of the site. Is it justifiable to provide that on mobile. What is the audience. If it is C BBC, for instance you are not really going to offer all of that C BBC or CBeebies content on mobile there is no justification it is for very young children who won’t have mobiles phones. Perhaps more of the parenting mobile would be on the mobile, depending what it is and how relevant to moving around around being a different location. You have to think of the purport of the device and editorial proposition behind the site you are going to offer on mobile I mean, it is a big obviously decision making process but that’s what I would personally feed into a team if they were making a decision about what sites should be on a mobile and why, and what parts of the site should be on mobile. We have over 3m pages on the BBC website and there is no way that should all be offered. Damon did you want to add anything?
Just adding a bit, I come from a different area in the BBC. I don’t see a lot of money spent on mobile phones, certainly in my area. The sites at the BBC that have the money spent on different versions are the big brands and the stuff you would want on the go, like sports and news. I suppose I should say, I think this is a convergence argument to an extent, when we are seeing iPhones and other Smartphones becoming more and more complex I suspect somewhere in the middle websites will change and mobiles will change and I don’t know what people’s vision is but we will have a different web/phone experience where we are all going to be getting the same thing anyway, more or less.
Kath? You were signalling me. Are you saying time up.
I am saying last orders.
Okay one more question though. Who has been waiting okay. Strict old Kath.
Sorry, can we make it very very quick?
okay, you have been waiting so long. Can we make it very very quick, sorry; Kath is very strict.
Sorry missed you there, yes.
You said something about designing of a website and how the desktop and mobile should be similar. The question is, recently new mobiles have something like the BBC iPlayer. But I was thinking do they have subtitles. On the internet I can read subtitles but on the mobile I can’t make out. Also, it is a very small screen, maybe it is possible to plug your mobile into something so you can watch it, if you have glasses on so the screen actually it sent to the glasses so it will look like I am watching it on a wall or something and I can make out – the G phone is it where you can sign or something? Switzerland have a G phone where you can sign and America and Dubai as well but here is nothing. You can sign but you can’t really make it out.
I will just say – sorry
The second one in.
So there is a couple of pieces of information that might be very valuable. The national centre for accessible media in the US, which is a division of the WGBH, which is a public entity that manages captions for most channels in the US have been running for the last year and a bit a project looking specifically at hand held captioning and mobile devices looking at the efficacy of being able to do that on multi line, number of characters per line and how users use close captioning on mobile devices, beyond, the technical how to do it. At the same time there is the W3C time text is having a mobile profile standard coming out so between devices that do have support for captions, some up coming devices that might have support for captions, standards on caption profiles and technology to present captions on mobile and then the encapsulation formats, you can have one type of caption, it is coming. It is not there yet but it is coming. The iPhone does have it now, so there is a device that does it. In terms of sign there are devices through 02, through Orange that have a front facing camera less than dollar a minute, but it provides sign language or video calling if you will for individuals and is being used all over Europe. The deaf congress 2 years ago in Spain was happening, so if you go to your carriers and ask for video calling, the feature exist s already today.
I was going to add a couple of sentences, but I don’t think I’m allowed.
Is everyone all right having a 55 minute lunch?
Blimey! the pressure. It was interesting to hear what you were saying about subtitling on iPlayer or mobile which yes that is a sticking point for me as well, because as Robin knows it is something I have been working on since the dawn of the iPlayer. And that is a problem as well with transferring something that was originally build online for a bigger screen view and then trying to transfer it and keep it accessible on to a smaller screen. And also, there lies the problem with consistency because at the moment we do provide subtitling on the iPlayer but for some reason, subtitling has not consistently been picked up on to the mobile platform for some technical reasons that I have no idea about, I am user experience more than a techie.
But that is something that is being dealt without the moment by the user experience team in how easy it is to see those subtitles when they are on the smaller screen and also how consistently they then come through on demand on the iPlayer or the mobile. So, thanks for bringing that anyway.
Well, thank you very much indeed… Lucy and all the panel, that was a really interesting discussion I hope you found it useful. Round of applause… (applause).