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RE: review of Web Eyes

From: Jim Thatcher <jim@jimthatcher.com>
Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 08:54:53 -0600
To: "WAI List (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-id: <NDBBKJDAKKEJDCICIODLGEENEBAA.jim@jimthatcher.com>
I reviewed Web Eyes and posted this on Kelly Ford's WebWatch list.

What is its business model? It is free for you to use on any site for up to
10 minutes, total. It you return to a site that timed out, you get the
message "Web Eyes free reading time has expired for this domain." If the
site purchases a license, then your use of Web Eyes on that site is

What does it do? It displays the site in single or multiple columns with
images present or not as you choose. It is laid out like a newspaper. The
font face and size can be set to anything you might want. It displays one of
their pages at a time, and your move between their pages with PageUp
PageDown. There are no scroll bars. The amount of text displayed is
determined by the size of the Web Eyes window. You can tell Internet
explorer to ignore font sizes and then set the text size to "largest," but
then the resulting page still has the original layout and is usually a mess.
The "linearized" version that Web Eyes presents is much cleaner.

What doesn't it do? There are some critical items missing from the Web Eyes
view. It completely ignores all images whether they are links or not. If you
include images in the view, ones that were links are not active in the Web
Eyes view. Web Eyes completely ignores all form elements. No input forms, no
buttons. Web Eyes completely ignores any JavaScript content or actions.

>From their web site, http://www.ionsystems.com/ion/aboutwebeyes.html:
<quote> Web Eyes allows web sites to meet the requirements of Section 508
for low vision users without the need to maintain separate websites with
identical content. <endquote>

It is atrocious for this company to assert that their tool will make a site
accessible and compliant with Section 508. In fact it is usually the case
that an accessible site will be made inaccessible because of the essential
material that is omitted.

On the computer I tested Web Eyes, I have Window-Eyes Professional Beta
installed. I was unable to get Window-Eyes to speak from the Web Eyes client
area at all. That is either my problem or the problem with Web Eyes, not a
problem with Window-Eyes.

Even if it weren't for those fatal flaws listed above, I can imagine no
advantage in the Web-Eyes technology for people using screen readers. The
screen reader view is essentially the view that Web Eyes is trying to

Accessibility Consulting
There's a new book on Web Accessibility. For information:

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
Behalf Of Simon White
Sent: Friday, March 15, 2002 5:08 AM
To: David Poehlman
Cc: WAI List (E-mail)
Subject: RE: review of Web Eyes

What on Earth is this? I totally agree with the comments made below. Why
should I have to get a top-end browser? Why does the software pop-up a new
window without me being told. And, what happens if a person uses a browser
such as Lynx.

Also, I have my homepage set to All the Web. When viewed with Web Eyes, the
graphics and text did get bigger, but the search query box completely
disappeared. What use is that? I just cannot seem to understand how this is
meant to make any website accessible. Try going to Amazon and see what a
bigger mess it appears to make of the screen. I had to scroll so much that I
got tired of it.

I also took the opportunity to try it out on a site I know to be accessible
to AA-standard and it made it incomprehensible.

There is a worry that this kind of PR is damaging to accessibility issues -
in much the same way that just providing a text-only version of parts of a
site does, or pretending that the addition of the alt attribute will make a
site fully accessible to all. It won't and it can not.

While I will applaud the idea behind this type of software, one worries that
the general Web population will decide that there is no reason to build
integrated accessible sites when one piece of software is meant to solve all
the problems. It doesn't, as Web Eyes has clearly shown to me...

There is no quick fix available to sites who at the moment are not
accessible. While it is not difficult to create or retrofit a site so that
it is accessible, there is much more to it than changing a small piece of

OK, rant over!

Kind regards to all

-----Original Message-----
From: David Poehlman [mailto:poehlman1@comcast.net]
Sent: Friday, March 15, 2002 10:50
To: wai-ig list
Subject: review of Web Eyes

----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Verhoeven" <pav@OCE.NL>
Sent: Friday, March 15, 2002 5:30 AM
Subject: Re: Web Eyes is released


The message below is a reply to a message, that was posted on the
listing. I send this reply to some other lists and the president of ION
Systems, because I do not agree with what the ION Systems, who made Web
Eyes, is telling the world.

I tried the Web Eyes plugin on several pages and I do not hope
accessibility problems will be solved with this kind of software! This
of software is not an alternative for making web sites accessible.  The
company suggests, that Web Eyes is an alternative cost effective
to make web sites accessible.
With my screen reader Supernova using braille and magnification I can
access pages, that seems to be completely inaccessible in the Web Eyes
Also on the suggested cnn.com I get an unregistered web site message and
prefer the normal cnn.com to read instead of the Web Eyes view, because
do not feel anything at all on my braille display.

It is not only, that Web Eyes does not work at all on a lot of web site,
also the concept is objectionable. All web sites in the world should pay
$500 or more to think they make their web sites accessible, thinking
have to do nothing more? Web Eyes does not make web sites more
With a free program like WebFormator I get better access than Web Eyes.
Eyes makes pages less accessible for people with a low vision. So my
to all companies in the world is, do not purchase this product. You have
do much more to make you web site accessible!

Regards Peter Verhoeven
Internet : http://www.magnifiers.org (The Screen Magnifiers Homepage)

At 07:35 11-03-2002 -0500, you wrote:
>We have released Web Eyes (tm).  It is an IE browser plug in (722K)
>can take any web site - whether it
>is tagged for accessibility usage or not - and reflow it so that it can
>be read at any font size (4 points - 144 points) as well as by Jaws and
>Window Eyes!
>To try it out, go to http://www.ionwebeyes.com. You can use it on any
>domain for 10 minutes regardless of if the domain has purchased Web
>or not.  We sell Web Eyes to the domain owners as an annual license
>($600 - $5,500 based on the number of pages in a domain) for unlimited
>downloads and unlimited reading time on all registered domains. If you
>try to read CNN.com with Jaws - it does an intelligible job. By
>accessing it via Web Eyes, it is 100% logical and usable.  You can turn
>graphics and columns on and off. For screen readers, use a single
>and a small font size for maximum usability. You need IE 5.5 or higher.
>When installed, Web Eyes is under the Tools menu.
>My husband is in DC this week demonstrating it to several government
>agencies. I think this will ROCK the accessibility community since
>who "haven't had time to add the necessary tags" will now be usable by
>them as well as normal sighted users. It is a win-win-win!
>Accessibility community can read the information, web sites designers
>can still have a formatted site and the corporate entities don't have
>pay to have two sites designed and maintained.
>Jill Thomas
>President, ION Systems, Inc.
>636-937-9094     Fax 636-937-1828
>107 Mississippi Ave., Crystal City, MO 63019
>                 *****
>www.ionsystems.com     Your Bridge To Usability
>www.galaxylibrary.com  Where Electronic And Print Worlds Converge
>                 *****
>eMonocle (tm) an XML viewer for simultaneous use by sighted, low vision
>and, in the near future, blind readers.
>Web Eyes (tm) a web plug-in facilitating compliance with Section 508
>accessibility to any web page for low-vision users.
>VICUG-L is the Visually Impaired Computer User Group List.
>To join or leave the list, send a message to
>listserv@maelstrom.stjohns.edu.  In the body of the message, simply
>"subscribe vicug-l" or "unsubscribe vicug-l" without the quotations.
>  VICUG-L is archived on the World Wide Web at

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Received on Friday, 15 March 2002 09:58:07 UTC

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