Mailing List Archive

Accessibility/Usability improvements for blind users
Hi. I need your help. I would like to search for sponsors for a project
which shall increase the accessibility and usability of the Mediawiki user
interface for blind screen reader users. I collected my first thoughts at
http://blind.wikia.com/wiki/Accessibility_and_Wikis

I would be glad if some of you could post comments, suggestions or useful
links to the talk page.

For example: I would like to learn why it is not possible to use the
Mediawiki extension from reCAPTCHA for Wikipedia. This would allow the use
of an alternative audio CAPTCHA, but there are surely important arguments
against this idea.

Don't worry, I am not an accessibility hawk. I just want to inform about the
needs of blind Wiki users.

There should be lots of potential sponsors for the suggested
accessibility/usability development project. If one or more parties would
give money, a professional Wiki programmer could be hired to optimize the
monobook CSS and JS for screen reader software. After that, the results and
experiences could be used for a screen reader skin or gadget for the
MediaWiki software. Organisations and companies such as the Mozilla
Foundation, the GNOME Foundation, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Canonical, Novell,
Google and many other parties already support open source accessibility
projects.

Why shouldn't we find similar help for MediaWiki and thereby for the great
and well known Wikipedia? The costs would be low and the benefits
significant. The WikiMedia Foundation and the global blind community will
surely appreciate sponsored accessibility improvements.

I would like to search for sponsorship opportunities for such an development
project. I don't want the Wikimedia Foundation to pay for anything, but I
need interest and supporting words from Mediawiki experts first.
Accessibility improvements for blind users could be used as another argument
for the PR of Wikimedia Foundation and thereby for future fundraisings. What
do you think?

Best regards from Germany, Per


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Re: Accessibility/Usability improvements for blind users [ In reply to ]
On 10/04/2008, Per <Reisender@online.de> wrote:

> For example: I would like to learn why it is not possible to use the
> Mediawiki extension from reCAPTCHA for Wikipedia. This would allow the use
> of an alternative audio CAPTCHA, but there are surely important arguments
> against this idea.


I believe the answer is that reCAPTCHA is not even close to free
software, and they don't seem interested in freeing it.

There was talk here a short while ago of putting stuff in the
MediaWiki bot API to make bolt-on captchas of any sort (text, audio,
whatever) much easier to implement.


> Don't worry, I am not an accessibility hawk. I just want to inform about the
> needs of blind Wiki users.
> There should be lots of potential sponsors for the suggested
> accessibility/usability development project. If one or more parties would
> give money, a professional Wiki programmer could be hired to optimize the
> monobook CSS and JS for screen reader software.


An easier way is to use a skin suited to screen reading. Classic,
Nostalgia or (especially) the printing CSS would be much better suited
to screen reading than Monobook, whose purpose is, after all, to look
slick and pretty.


> Why shouldn't we find similar help for MediaWiki and thereby for the great
> and well known Wikipedia? The costs would be low and the benefits
> significant. The WikiMedia Foundation and the global blind community will
> surely appreciate sponsored accessibility improvements.


Mostly I suspect it's a case of "Great idea! Please code it."
Sponsorship could help here, of course.


- d.

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Re: Accessibility/Usability improvements for blind users [ In reply to ]
On Thu, Apr 10, 2008 at 5:13 AM, Per <Reisender@online.de> wrote:
> For example: I would like to learn why it is not possible to use the
> Mediawiki extension from reCAPTCHA for Wikipedia. This would allow the use
> of an alternative audio CAPTCHA, but there are surely important arguments
> against this idea.

Not only is reCAPTCHA closed-source, it also adds a dependency on
third-party servers. If their servers go down -- they might not be
prepared for the load of a site like Wikipedia -- people presumably
won't be able to log in, without expensive and unreliable uptime
checks on our part. It adds another point of failure.

Plus it's closed-source, again, which makes it unacceptable by itself.

> I would like to search for sponsorship opportunities for such an development
> project. I don't want the Wikimedia Foundation to pay for anything, but I
> need interest and supporting words from Mediawiki experts first.

The answer is that if you can find us someone who can improve
MediaWiki's accessibility, and who knows what they're doing and is
willing to follow our coding standards, etc., it should be no problem
to give them commit access. We have at least one person already (Greg
Sabino Mullane) who more or less does nothing but maintain a single
facet of the software that no one else cares to maintain (PostgreSQL),
and has commit access AFAIK solely for that reason.

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Re: Accessibility/Usability improvements for blind users [ In reply to ]
David Gerard wrote:
> An easier way is to use a skin suited to screen reading. Classic,
> Nostalgia or (especially) the printing CSS would be much better suited
> to screen reading than Monobook, whose purpose is, after all, to look
> slick and pretty.
>
This is mostly untrue, while Monobook does look nice, it has the
side-effect of gracefully degrading. Several times I have used Monobook
in text-based browsers (which, while I know is not a screen reader,
gives a good impression of how the page would "render" in a screen
reader) it works very well with the content laid out in a suitable way.
Many of the older skins are definitely not very accessible as they were
developed before accessibility became a hot topic and some even use
tables. The print stylesheet is also mostly useless since screen readers
generally do not use CSS and the printable version is simply a version
of the page with navigation, tabs etc. (which appear at the bottom of
the page in screen readers anyway) hidden (they are still within the
HTML, just invisible to the user).

MinuteElectron.


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Re: Accessibility/Usability improvements for blind users [ In reply to ]
On 10/04/2008, Simetrical <Simetrical+wikilist@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 10, 2008 at 5:13 AM, Per <Reisender@online.de> wrote:

> > For example: I would like to learn why it is not possible to use the
> > Mediawiki extension from reCAPTCHA for Wikipedia. This would allow the use
> > of an alternative audio CAPTCHA, but there are surely important arguments
> > against this idea.

> Not only is reCAPTCHA closed-source, it also adds a dependency on
> third-party servers. If their servers go down -- they might not be
> prepared for the load of a site like Wikipedia -- people presumably
> won't be able to log in, without expensive and unreliable uptime
> checks on our part. It adds another point of failure.


If reCAPTCHA were free software - or if someone duplicated its
functionality in free software - and it were running on a Wikimedia
server, would it (or something like it) be something we'd likely run?
Given its usefulness to the world of getting public domain stuff from
image to text form.


- d.

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Re: Accessibility/Usability improvements for blind users [ In reply to ]
On Thu, Apr 10, 2008 at 5:25 PM, David Gerard <dgerard@gmail.com> wrote:
> Yeah, that's what I was thinking of. I'm wondering if there'd be
> anything in that for us. Do the Wikisources ever do transcription
> projects?
>

Catching vandal edits might be doable, but I dunno if we want people
to have to see "PENIS PENIS" when they log in... :)

Judson
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Cohesion

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Re: Accessibility/Usability improvements for blind users [ In reply to ]
David Gerard wrote:
> On 10/04/2008, Simetrical wrote:
>> Not only is reCAPTCHA closed-source, it also adds a dependency on
>> third-party servers. If their servers go down -- they might not be
>> prepared for the load of a site like Wikipedia -- people presumably
>> won't be able to log in, without expensive and unreliable uptime
>> checks on our part. It adds another point of failure.
>
>
> If reCAPTCHA were free software - or if someone duplicated its
> functionality in free software - and it were running on a Wikimedia
> server, would it (or something like it) be something we'd likely run?
> Given its usefulness to the world of getting public domain stuff from
> image to text form.
>
> - d.

Probably.
But the third party dependency can be avoided if we just provide their
Audio captcha as an alternative to our FancyCaptcha. The number of
queries to handle would be much lower, and if they went down, we would
be exactly as now.
However, they may not like being used for audio without filling in the
text ones.


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Re: Accessibility/Usability improvements for blindusers [ In reply to ]
From: "Platonides" <Platonides@gmail.com>


>> On 10/04/2008, Simetrical wrote:
>>> Not only is reCAPTCHA closed-source, it also adds a dependency on
>>> third-party servers. If their servers go down -- they might not be
>>> prepared for the load of a site like Wikipedia -- people presumably
>>> won't be able to log in, without expensive and unreliable uptime
>>> checks on our part. It adds another point of failure.

>
> Probably.
> But the third party dependency can be avoided if we just provide their
> Audio captcha as an alternative to our FancyCaptcha. The number of
> queries to handle would be much lower, and if they went down, we would
> be exactly as now.
> However, they may not like being used for audio without filling in the
> text ones.

This sounds interesting because I am only interested in an audio CAPTCHA but
not in reCAPTCHA's visual verification solution. Is it imaginable just to
use their audio feature for Mediawiki/Wikipedia if they would provide it? If
the answer is yes I will contact them, find out more and could try to
convince.


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