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An ARIA for Google Moderator

From time to time, our own T.V. Raman shares his tips on how to use Google from his perspective as a technologist who cannot see -- tips that sighted people, among others, may also find useful. - Ed.

Google-AxsJAX was launched in late 2007 as a library for access-enabling Web-2.0 applications. Since then, we have released accessibility enhancements for many Web-2.0 applications via the AxsJAX site as early experiments that have eventually graduated into full-fledged products. Just recently we posted about using the AxsJAX library to provide ARIA enhancements for Google Calendar, Google Finance and Google News. Now we are happy to share an early AxsJAX extension for Google Moderator that enables fluent eyes-free use of the tool.

For details on installing and using AxsJAX extensions, see the FAQ. Briefly, you need Firefox 3.0 and a screenreader that supports W3C ARIA. Users who do not have a screenreader installed can most easily experience the results by installing Fire Vox, a freely available self-voicing extension for Firefox.

With the AxsJAX extension in place, you can use Google Moderator via the keyboard, with all user interaction producing spoken feedback via W3C ARIA.

Here is a brief overview of the experience:

1. The user interface is divided into logical panes — one listing topic areas, and the other listing questions on a given topic. At times (e.g., before a meeting), you may find an additional Featured Question pane that shows a randomly selected question that you can vote on.
2. Users can ask new questions under a given topic, or give a thumbs-up/thumbs-down to questions that have already been asked.
3. Use the left and right arrow keys to switch between the two panes. You hear the title of the selected pane as you switch.
4. Use up and down arrows to navigate among the items in the selected pane. As you navigate, you hear the current item.
5. Hit enter to select the current item.
6. The current item can be magnified by repeatedly pressing the + (or =) key. To reduce magnification, press the - key.
7. When navigating the questions in a given topic, hit y or n to vote a question up or down.
8. When navigating items in the topic pane, hit a to ask a question. Once you confirm your request to post the question, it will show up in the list of questions for that topic so that others can vote that question up or down.

Please visit the Google Group for accessibility to provide feedback. This AxsJAX extension is still a work in progress, so we'd love to hear from you as we continue to work out the kinks.

Posted by Posted by T. V. Raman, Research Scientist, and Charles L. Chen, Software Engineer




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