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Accessibility of Short URLs

Excerpted from the December 16th blog post on the DigitalGov blog.  Although written for social media experts in government, this is good information for anyone sharing information via social media.

Short URLs can actually be beneficial for people using assistive technologies because it shortens the reading time and the cognitive load that longer URLs can create. Imagine listening to http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Government-Unclaimed-Money.shtml being read aloud versus http://go.usa.gov/WhzY.

With that in mind, you should avoid using the short URL as the link title, such as “Click here: http://go.usa.gov/Whtm.” (It’s never a good idea to use “click here,” but that’s a story for another day.) It’s ok to use a short URL as the link when you use actual words as the link title, such as “Learn more about short URLs.”

You can’t follow this rule when writing messages for social media because there isn’t the option to use a link title. Instead, give a good description first so users can decide if they want to click the link, such as “You can learn more about how to create short .gov URLs at http://go.usa.gov/Whtm.” Learn more about making social media accessible.

Landmark roles

Difficulty: Advanced


  • Structure

Adding landmark roles to your page is an easy way to enhance accessibility. Landmark roles are part of ARIA, a new accessibility specification. Landmark roles define significant web page areas and provide the user quick access to them. The available landmark roles are application, banner, complementary, contentinfo, form, main, navigation, and search. You can simply add role=”search” to your search form (<form role=”search”>) to identify it specifically as the search form on the page. <div role=”main”> designates the element that contains the main content. <ul role=”navigation”> could be used to specify the navigation items for a page. Landmark roles can easily provide significant functionality and increased accessibility to keyboard and screen reader users.

Identifying Objects with TapTapsee

Contributed by Joel Zimba, Special Projects Coordinator, MDTAP

TapTapSee is a handy app which identifies objects via the iPhone camera.  It’s simple.  Start the app, wait for the auto-focus sound to let you know a picture is ready and then click that “Take Picture” button.  After a short time, a brief description of the object in the picture is provided.  In a quick test, a picture of my keyboard was correctly identified as “Black Keyboard.”

Some users report having TapTapSee read useful information, such as, “Thermostat set to 60 Degrees.”  It’s a great tool.  Several months back TapTapSee announced they were moving to subscription model for their service.  After all, either the computing power or the human assist has got to be paid for somehow.  Now that the hubbub has quieted down and the income stream is well established, TapTapSee has made news yet again.

Today, an Android version of TapTapSee was announced.  It’s available on the Google Play Store as we speak.  Most of the service runs in the cloud, so there are likely to be few problems or differences based on the platform.  There are few accessibility apps available for Android, so it’s good to see TapTapSee providing Android users with this excellent solution.

FREE Phone Workshop – Preparing for a Successful IEP Meeting

The Parent’s Place of Maryland is hosting a FREE phone workshop on Wednesday April 16, 2014 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM, EST.

Whether it’s the first meeting for your child’s Individualized
Education Program (IEP) or you’re reviewing the IEP for the fifth time, preparation is the key to having a successful meeting!

You will learn:

  •  tips for how to prepare for your child’s IEP meeting;
  •  what to bring to the IEP meeting;
  •  how to organize and present information that represents your child’s best interests.

Register here.

AT in the news for the week of 3/31 thru 4/4

The Need for Congress to Pass the ABLE Act

Robbie the Robot: Personal Assistant for Limbless Teenager

A Gold Gadget That Would Let You Stop Heart Attacks With a Smartphone

‘Avatar’ could care for elderly in future

Wearable Tech Isn’t Just Fashionable, It’s Improving Lives

This robotic exoskeleton is helping the paralyzed walk again

Banks, energy providers and public bodies should be subject to web accessibility rules, vote MEPs

Equal Access App Development: Create an App with Assistive Technology

Dyslexia Software for Windows Tablets Released by Ghotit

A ‘smart cane’ for the visually impaired

Bionic Olympics will come to Switzerland in 2016

Disabled musicians find an Equilibrium

Lehigh University graduate invents fingertip markers for children, disabled

New app lets special students express themselves

Gifted+Learning Disabled = No Desk For You, Says New Study

Amazing story of a 15-year-old theater workshop for deaf-blind actors

Liftware cancels tremor to bring the joy back to mealtime

Ever wonder what we’re featuring in our monthly AT Updates? Maybe you get the monthly email but don’t have time to read it or maybe you’ve accidentally deleted it without reading. Well, no hard feelings, we understand. So, to make things a little easier, now you can catch up on all the updates at your convenience.

Visit the MDTAP Publications page and read all of the 2014 AT Updates (including info on new AT in the library, new AT devices on the market, upcoming events, heartwarming stories, and much more).

And, if you’d like to get these emails sent directly to you (just one email a month), join our email list here.

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