There are 60 million people with disabilities in the U.S. There are more than 10 times that number around the globe. Yahoo!’s Accessibility team wants to make sure that every one of these individuals is able to use Yahoo as their web site of choice. That will only be possible, of course, if every corner of our network is fully accessible.
While we still have work to do toward that end, we did reach a significant milestone when Yahoo India launched an Accessibility Lab in Bangalore. It is modeled after our Sunnyvale lab, which has demonstrated a variety of assistive technologies to hundreds of Yahoos since it launched in 2008.
Our Accessibility Labs are important tools for engineers who can’t imagine life with a disability. The reality is that not everyone can use a mouse, type on a keyboard, or see the computer screen. We simulate that experience so our developers can learn how to think about users with disabilities during their product development process. We have screen readers to help them understand the experience of a blind user, single switches and onscreen keyboards for physically disabled users, communication devices for kids with speech impairments, etc. More and more Yahoo products are being designed and developed in our Bangalore office, so it became clear that we needed to enhance our ability to train engineers and designers there.
Also, as a global company, we are keenly aware that commercial screen readers are generally out of reach for most blind people living in developing countries. So we’ve sponsored the non-profit NV Access Foundation, which is working on a free, open-source screen reader. Our support will help them improve web features for NVDA for Windows, making it easier for visually-impaired users around the world to browse the Web – especially when they encounter Web 2.0 technologies. And by making NVDA’s screen reader a better product, we’re also helping all the web developers who use it as their testing tool.
Sr. Accessibility Program Manager