Albert Rizzi had a life-transforming experience after being misdiagnosed with a sinus infection. What was thought to be a minor infection was actually meningitis and he soon lost his sight, smell and sense of taste. This life-altering transition led him to start My Blind Spot, an organization dedicated to helping visually impaired individuals live, achieve and prosper.
“Each of us in one way or another has a blind spot in our lives,” said Rizzi, who taught school and directed educational programs in New York before losing his sight. “When I first came to be blind, I found that I was forever running into literal and virtual walls. They were dead ends that blocked my assimilation into the blind community and hindered my participation in mainstream society. Without my sight, not only did the world become invisible to me, but I learned how it felt to be unseen.”
Today is the second annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Ted Drake, an Intuit staff software accessibility engineer, says this day is an opportunity for each of us to experience our world with a different ability level.
At Intuit, teams across the company have been working hard to build accessible products for people like Rizzi. Here are a few of the changes made in the last year.
QuickBooks Desktop accessibility
Dixie Sanderson was an accountant for 15 years. She owned a strong bookkeeping business in Guilford, Conn., for independent contractors. This ended in May 2004 when a reaction to prescription medicine caused her to go blind. Sanderson was unable to continue working with QuickBooks; she had to dissolve her business and go on disability. The QuickBooks accessibility team began working this year to help her, and other blind accountants, go back to work.
Here’s more on Sanderson’s journey and a transcript.
Rizzi’s engineers at My Blind Spot are working with the QuickBooks team to make content available to screen reader users. The project also includes scripting for the popular JAWS screen reader to enhance usability. This project is moving rapidly and Sanderson is already able to navigate parts of QuickBooks 2013 as a beta tester.
Accessibility for banking customers
Recent legal activity in the banking industry has made accessibility a key focus. A growing number of Intuit Financial Services customers are asking whether Intuit’s digital banking offerings are fully accessible and compliant with ADA regulations. IFS has worked diligently since 2012 to make their most frequently used online banking pages easy to use for people of all abilities. These include the home page, history page, bill pay and transfers pages.
The IFS mobile applications are built on platforms that have built-in accessibility tools. IFS teams are focused on ensuring the most frequently used tasks in mobile banking are also accessible and they continue to apply accessibility requirements as they enhance mobile functionality.
- Weave, the task managing app, will be featured at the m-enabling conference in Washington, D.C. in June. The presentation will cover how family members can use Weave to arrange schedules, shopping lists, budgets, and facilitate communication between care givers.
- GoPayment is currently the only accessible solution for mobile payments. GoPayment’s use of the Mophie card scanner for iPhone 4 bypasses the headphone jack needed for screen readers. The latest version of GoPayment allows users to read credit cards via the phone’s camera.
- The TurboTax team is working to create a new generation of the popular TurboTax Online product. The beta version works very well with screen readers and may be the first to achieve full accessibility compliance. This is especially important as H&R Block was recently sued for the inaccessibility of their online product.
- TurboTax added closed captioning to more than 300 videos on YouTube. Closed captioning allows deaf people to experience the videos, and is helpful for those who speak English as a second language and for those who watch the clips with their audio turned off. Google can index the caption track for better search results.
In addition, Intuit’s Central Marketing team has also been making accessibility a key element of its redesign on sites including Intuit.com and other small business pages.
Learning, first hand
You can participate in Accessibility Day events being held around the world, online or at your desk:
- Keyboard accessibility is critical for those with vision and physical disabilities. Find out how a website works without a mouse. Use a rubber band to make a fist around a pencil. Use the pencil tip to navigate your keyboard. The rubber band will force your hand into an uncomfortable position, which shows what it’s like to have arthritis or cerebral palsy.
- Experience dyslexia: http://webaim.org/simulations/dyslexia
- Turn off the sound on your computer and watch these videos on Intuit’s YouTube channels. It won’t take long before you appreciate TurboTax’s use of closed captions.
- Intuit Careers: http://www.youtube.com/user/intuitcareers
- QuickBooks: http://www.youtube.com/user/IntuitQuickBooks
- Intuit Small Business: http://www.youtube.com/user/IntuitSmallBusiness
- TurboTax: http://www.youtube.com/user/TurboTax
Make a difference with your products today
- Caption one of your videos with Amara. The caption track can easily be added to YouTube.
- Screen readers speak many languages; define your site’s language to make the screen reader use the correct voice. This is as simple as adding lang=”en” to your site’s tag [http://nimbupani.com/declaring-languages-in-html-5.html].
- Use Android’s Lint tool to detect accessibility errors on your mobile applications.
- The Worldspace automated testing tool was recently updated. Visit it today to download the latest version of the FireEyes browser extension.