Retailers are Beginning to Design Web sites for Disabled Consumers

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Want to learn more?  Then you need to read the article below.
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Your accessibility team.
Retailers are Beginning to Design Web sites for Disabled Consumers
Internet Retailer, January 20, 2009
Retailers including Canadian Tire Corp. and Home Hardware Stores Ltd. are
making their e-commerce sites more accessible with innovative technology
that provides web page navigation without a conventional keyboard or
computer mouse.
Canadian Tire and Home Hardware Stores have deployed technology from
Essential Accessibility that gives people without full motor skills the
ability to navigate web pages without regular use of a mouse or keyboard.
The software comes in a variety of applications, providing handicapped
computer users multiple ways to control web pages.
“At Home Hardware, we recognize the importance of accessibility in all
dimensions of the customer experience,” says CEO Paul Straus. “It’s more
than just the right thing to do. It’s good business practice.”
A disabled shopper, after arranging to download or receive a CD of free
software from the retailer, simply needs to be able to exert pressure on an
electronic device, such as with a fingertip press by someone who can’t move
his hand side to side, or, for a paralyzed quadriplegic, with a head
In one “radar mouse” application, for example, a red line that extends from
the center to the outer edge of a web page slowly circles the page like a
second hand on a watch. Once the shopper sees that the line is approaching a
particular section of a web page-a shirt for sale, for instance-she engages
the finger-or head-activated device to stop the moving line; a second press
of the device will send an icon up the line toward the shirt; when the icon
lands on the desired point of the page, such as the Buy button for the
shirt, the shopper activates a third press of the device to make a purchase.
The same application works with an on-screen keyboard that enables the
disabled shopper to enter information such as billing and shipping
Essential Accessibility charges retailers a flat monthly fee per web site,
depending on traffic volume and page views or other site activity, says
Simon Dermer, managing director.
Other applications support better deployments of technology designed to make
sites more usable by blind people.
SSB Bart Group, for example, provides a web-based accessibility management
platform, which shows whether a web site supports the deployment of
assistive technologies like screen readers that turn images into audio files
for blind people.
Screen readers include JAWS for Windows by Freedom Scientific Inc.,
Window-Eyes from GW Micro Inc., BrowseAloud by Texthelp Systems Ltd., and
Easy Web Browsing from IBM Corp. Microsoft Corp.’s Vista operating system
comes with the built-in Narrator screen reader as well as other tools
including a text magnifier and an on-screen keyboard.
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About Donna Jodhan

Donna Jodhan is an award winning blind author, advocate, sight loss coach, blogger, podcast commentator, and accessibility specialist.
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