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RNIB press release: Blind people help motorists get online

From: Julie Howell <JHOWELL@rnib.org.uk>
Date: Fri, 08 Dec 2000 13:58:51 +0000
Message-Id: <sa30e964.020@rnib.org.uk>
To: w3c-wai-eo@w3.org
Hello everyone
Our most recent press release puts a twist on the argument for
accessible web design. Sites that are designed to be
accessible also work in internet-enabled cars.
Kind regards
Julie Howell, Campaigns Officer (Accessible Internet), RNIB, UK

Blind people help sighted motorists get on the Net

Technology used by blind people to surf the Internet has been
fitted to a car to help sighted drivers get online when they are on
the move.  The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB)
welcomes today's announcement of the development of an
Internet-enabled car that proves that design intended to help
blind people can also assist people in a variety of everyday
situations.

Web usability specialists Bunnyfoot have developed a
prototype 'Internet-ready car', affectionately known as the
'Bunnymobile'.  The Bunnymobile is equipped with an Internet
connection, made possible by mobile phone technology. 
Instead of a computer screen, the specially adapted car has
been fitted with a speech browser, the type used by blind
people to surf the Internet from a personal computer.

The result is a speaking Internet browser that enables drivers to
listen to information over the Internet while keeping their eyes on
the road.

Dr Jon Dodd, Technical Director at Bunnyfoot said: "We
created the Bunnymobile to demonstrate the importance of
accessible web design. When web sites are designed to be
usable by blind people they also work in 'eyes busy' situations,
such as driving a car.  We found that web sites which have been
designed following accessible web design guidelines worked
really well in our web-enabled car, but sites which did not follow
these guidelines could not be heard in the Bunnymobile'.

Julie Howell, RNIB's Campaigns Officer (Accessible Internet)
was one of the first people to go for a spin in the Bunnymobile. 
"When Bunnyfoot contacted me, I wondered how technology
used by blind people would help people driving cars!  I was
able to hear gardening tips from Bob Flowerdew on the BBC
Online site and listened to the latest financial news on ft.com
without taking my eyes off the road!  I could even pick up my
email.  The Bunnymobile is a great way to show web designers
the power of accessible design.  When web sites are coded
correctly, it's not only disabled people who benefit.  People
surfing the web through the television or even in a car can use
sites that follow 'design for all' guidelines."

"Although the concept of the Bunnymobile is fairly
straightforward, the car delivers an important message to
companies who operate on the web", says Dr Dodd.
"Businesses who want to make their sites available to the
maximum number of people should think carefully when
designing web sites, so they are easy to use, wherever and
however the public choose to get online, and whatever their
abilities or disabilities".

Further information: Julie Howell, Campaigns Officer, RNIB
020-7391 2191. Robert Stevens, Bunnyfoot 01235-838514.

Notes to editors

1. RNIB is the leading charity working in the UK offering practical
support, advice and information for anyone with a serious sight
problem. For information call the RNIB Helpline on 0845-766 99
99. 
2. Information about the technology blind and partially sighted
people use to access computers is available from RNIB's
Technology Information Service
http://www.rnib.org.uk/technology/  or on 024-7636 9555.
3. RNIB's Campaign for Good Web Design encourages web
designers to practice simple 'design for all' techniques.  Further
information at http://www.rnib.org.uk/digital or contact Julie
Howell, Campaigns Officer (Accessible Internet) at
Jhowell@rnib.org.uk or on 020-7391 2191.
4.  RNIB has produced a free video explaining accessible web
design.  'Web sites that work' is available from 020-7391 2191.
5. Bunnyfoot are web usability specialists based in Oxfordshire. 
Contact Robert Stevens, Business Director for more information
on 01235-838514 or at enquiries@bunnyfoot.com
Received on Friday, 8 December 2000 09:00:23 GMT

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