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Last week we talked about what accessibility means and who these accessibility features are for. Today I want to point you toward some resources that I'm hoping will 1) help you use your computer more efficiently and comfortably; and 2) make you aware of technologies that are out there, even if you aren't the one who wants to/needs to use them. (Remember what I said on Monday? During this year, 2011, 7,000 people a day will be turning 65. In other words, our bodies are getting older and may need more help to do the things we want them to do. I believe it'd behoove you to be proactive and learn about this stuff now, granny.)
Let's get this party started: On your computer (PC, Mac, Linux, WHATEVER), there are already built-in features that are specifically designed to make the computing experience better for people with vision, hearing, and other physical disabilities, as well as those with dexterity/mobility issues and learning or developmental issues.
Late last December I wrote a post to remind you (or introduce you) about the ribbon roadmaps, interactive guides that you can download and use as reference workbooks when working in the Office 2010 programs that have the ribbon.
A spunky former schoolteacher named Barbara Leedom commented on that post, and her comment had nothing whatsoever to do with that post or with roadmaps.
Or did it?
In Monday's post, I attempted to explain what "accessibility" means in terms of computing, while tossing out some statistics about what portion of the general population has issues with vision, hearing, and dexterity.
But, as someone so deftly pointed out to me, there is another group of people I left out: folks with cognitive disabilities, such as learning disabilities, people with Alzheimer's, dementia, and so on. Which tells me that even if you or I don't have any of those disabilities or issues I mentioned yesterday and just now, there's a pretty good chance that in the not-so-distant future we're going to need to use the technology that's out there, the work that's being done now to ensure that we remain a productive part of our society and the world at large.
<Whew. That's heavy stuff for Crabby.>
Since I'm going to be writing some accessibility-related posts in the coming weeks and today is the first of that series, I want to refresh your brains about (or maybe tell you for the first time) what "accessibility" means in the context of computing.
Everyone sees, hears, feels, and maneuvers around the world differently. Very few of us have 20/20 vision, perfect hearing, and 100-percent use of every single part of our bodies. In fact, among adult computer users in the United States, 1 in 4 has a vision difficulty, 1 in 4 has a dexterity difficulty, and 1 in 5 has a hearing difficulty. But even if you don't have any issues regarding vision, dexterity, or hearing, chances are you may know, work with, or love someone who does.
It'd behoove you to learn about what accessibility means, why it's an important topic, and how it applies to everyone.
I wouldn't say I'm a "gadget freak" by any means but I do like me'self a good piece o' hardware that actually works...
While my compatriots are romping around the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, I'm busy at work (not that they're not) looking out at a gloomy sky (I know they're not), and, drooling over and yearning for the hot new gadgets this year (as are they, I suspect).
A few posts have already come in from this year's show. Let's see what's going on...
First off, Happy New Year!
Today's short post, on this first Monday of the year Two-Thousand-and-Eleven is not a compilation of great events from the year 2010; nor is it a whimisical, train-of-thought, bit 'o fluff of nonsensical News of the Weird (that I would've had to steal and compile) before we all get back to business this week. Nope.
To be frank (who me?), I am feeling more than a titch overfed, overstuffed, and over presented-with-presents, and so am letting these few statements speak for themselves.
A funny thing happened on the way to my yearly New Year's Resolution column (and now, that I write a blog instead of a column, it'll be a yearly blog post): It didn't make it to the site on Wednesday, December 29th, as I promised.
And yes, I'm well aware that if you came here looking for it Wednesday and didn't see it, you most likely didn't spend the day gnashing your teeth, wringing your hands, and shaking your fists; no, those expressions of angst were for spousal (or other) relatives stuck at your place because of the country's snow storms...
In any case, this would have been (and will be) my ninth piece of its kind (I do resolutions at the end of each December—and even if it rolls into January, I leave the date as December). To be frank (who me? candid and blunt?), I'd kind of run out of ideas, and after have the past 10 days off work, my writing muscle had gotten all flabby. And so I have a plan: I asked my Facebook peeps (who are not "friends" exactly; I mean the page is called a "Fan Page" and although I am—and like to be—many things, presumptuous is not one of them), to send me theirs.
And send they did…
When Office 2007 first came out, what everyone noticed first was the new interface, namely, the ribbon. This ribbon replaced the menus and toolbars—yes, the self-same menus and toolbars that you constantly griped about and yet were suddenly so enamored of:
You cannot imagine how much whiny feedback I received about the change:
(And so on and so forth until my eyes rolled up into my head, my mouth went slack, and I wondered if it's too late to become a ballerina after all.)
And now that Office 2010 has come out...the ribbon is still there. Get used to it my chickadees because you will come to love it (and it's here to stay). But don't get crabby with me because although many of you may realize that learning to use this ribbon involves a steep learning curve in low gear, we created a few roadmaps to make it easier on you.
How could you not love PowerPoint? It's a total package: You get to write, design, add pictures, make movies... It's like a coloring book on 'roids.
PowerPoint 2010 has some very interesting additions and improvements (oops...I said improvements again...). You get a lot more options for how to deliver and distribute your presentations; you gain much more control over how your pictures, charts, graphics, and effects work; and there are some amazing new innovations in the field of collaboration.
So, my advice to you is: Read my post, watch the videos...and go get it. It's like having a new, powerful toy—that gets your work done, too!
I know I know: Another version of Office. If we didn't think it would be of value to you, we wouldn't keep making them. So before you pass judgment, I think you should take a look at some of the improvements and new features we've added. We really listened to what our customers wanted...and gave it to them.
(And anyway, new things are cute.)