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[Fwd: [webwatch] New Version of IFind: http://infindv2.infind.com/infind.rdc]

From: David Poehlman <poehlman@clark.net>
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 08:26:46 -0500
Message-ID: <36D54F96.EF5A9441@clark.net>
To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I've attached this text message because it shows us how simple it can
be to get an author to make a site more accessible.  It also shows an
example of an accessible complex site.
comments? thoughts? if you see problems, kindly direct them to the
folks building the site.  they are as is indicated in the attached
quite receptive.
Hands-On Technolog(eye)s
Touching The Internet
voice 301-949-7599
Dynamic Solutions Inc.
Best of Service for your small business network needs

attached mail follows:

Hi All,

There's a newer, and I suspect test, version of IFind at:


The most notable changes are:

1. The alt-tag problem I mention is corrected in the new version.

2. According to information on the site 51 web indexes are now searched.

3. The starting page now has links to several news stories.  They appear
after the links and controls needed for searching and do not appear at all
on the results page.

4. The combo box (option list in Lynx) to adjust the amount of time a
search waits has been replaced with a combo box listing brief and detailed
as available choices.  The only thing I can guess is that this is just a
more user friendly version of the same ability to adjust the length of time
for your search because I couldn't detect any impact on the format or
number of results my searches found.  The default for this setting is brief.

5. If you phrase your search in the form of a question, the results page
will try and give you a direct answer.  This is displayed near the top of
the results with a heading of "quick answers" and is not a link so be sure
to listen to the page.  You will not find this information jumping from
link to link.

Like any index that tries to provide a direct answer the results are all
over the place.  A question asking for the largest city in Oregon turned up
a web page that had this answer.  More likely I suspect it had enough of
the text in my question that it was listed as a direct answer.  The same
question about Wisconsin didn't turn up anything that the system thought
was a direct answer.  Nor did I have any luck when I asked for the current
stock price of Microsoft.  However in both cases some of the actual search
results would have quickly lead me to the answers I was seeking and
realistically I think this is the best that can be expected for a while.

As a bit of a quirksome test I asked the question, "What's the meaning of

IFind responded:

>Quick Answers:   What’s the meaning of life? What’s the meaning of life?
The meaning of life is to bring meaning to life. It is a life without

As a more practical example I asked, "What's the weather forecast for
Portland, Oregon?"

The thing I could grow to like about IFind is that getting to a helpful
link from this point is relatively fast and uncomplicated by a lot of
screen clutter.  My answer was just a few tab presses away and I didn't
have to sort through a lot of links for other features as you might on some
search engines.  For someone just starting out on the web this can make a
world of difference.

6. When accessing the service with IE or Netscape there's now a feature
that monitors what you type for your search and alerts you of typing
mistakes.  To use this feature with a screen reader you'd have to have the
screen reading software set to what programs term say all or read all
onscreen changes automatically.  While the feature has potential it is not
a good idea to work in a GUI environment with your screen reader on this
setting unless absolutely necessary for some sort of terminal session.  You
get way to much chatter.  

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, the default behavior of
most screen readers is to read just what has the focus at any given time.
Press Alt-f and you'll likely hear the word "file" and then "new" because
that's the highlighted menu item.  With a screen reader set on say all
you'd hear every option on the file menu read because all that text would
have just appeared on the screen.

Features like this typo alert do raise a question about how to make such
features accessible or functional with a screen reader.  Anything that
requires monitoring of multiple areas of the screen is a bit of a
challenge.  I suspect that if access to this feature were critical one
could customize a screen reader with whatever facilities a particular
package had to deal with the situation but I mention the feature here
largely for informational and discussion purposes.

Received on Thursday, 25 February 1999 08:26:52 UTC

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