I've proposed a mini-project here, for IET to host an experimental embedding service on behalf of The Open University. This will serve a similar purpose to Embed.ly (api.embed.ly) and Oohembed (oohembed.com), and act as a proxy on behalf of other embed or service providers, for example, YouTube, LAMS, Prezi and Google Docs forms.
Tony Hirst has just blogged about the Office for Disability Issues new accessible media player AKA the "Most Accessible Media Player on the Web". Both he and Will Woods have alluded to work that The Open University is undertaking. I thought I'd fill in the gaps.
The OU is at the start of a 6 month development to create a multimedia player that (we hope):
- Will be an "attractive" player that the average designer/ blogger would be happy to use on their site.
- Can be used in a variety of contexts - our Moodle-based virtual learning environment, OpenLearn, OU-Drupal sites, blogs, Cloudworks...
- Will deliver content mostly from the OU podcast site in the contexts mentioned above.
- Will be accessible to users with disabilities - both in terms of control, and display of alternatives like transcripts and captions.
- Usable on a variety of devices, including mobiles and tablets.
- Will be delivered in a maintainable way.
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I've just installed the TechDis Toolbar (Beta) on this blog - see the the button-image on the left of this page. Feel free to press the button, and try the toolbar that appears at the top of the page. Functions include text resizing, spelling checker, text to speech/ speech synthesis and custom styles.
Wendy Porch and I presented an evaluation version of the new MALT Wiki player at Techshare, in September. Since then I've been busy with other projects, but I've now had time to produce a mockup demonstrating personalization options and how I hope to get people to contribute. This is based on my own thoughts and some interesting points raised by people including Jonathan Hassell during our presentation.
The screenshot below shows the player with a panel below starting "About Learn about Moodle". The player works, while the meta-data and personalization panel is mostly just a mockup. This panel would be hidden initially, with a "show/hide" button. And the thinking is that the panel would always be available, including when a video is embedded in a third-party site like a blog, a virtual learning environment or video sites like YouTube.
Despite the emergence of the
<video> element in HTML 5, Shockwave Flash is still the defacto standard for publish multimedia on the Web. Macromedia, and now Adobe have improved the support for assistive technologies and software interfaces like Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) within the Flash browser plug-ins and it is now possible to create a video player in which all the controls and status information are perceivable by screen reader users. So all the challenges to do with Flash have been overcome, no problems? Wrong.
Last year I started experimenting with user style sheets - text files you can install on your computer to re-format or change the appearance of a web-site or sites. You may want to do this, if for instance some adverts or animations on your favourite site annoy you, or to increase colour contrast or font-size. A while ago, I created a style sheet for Twitter, and today I uploaded it to Userstyles.org - you can install it through Stylish for Firefox (or IE7Pro for Internet Explorer - not tested!)
The Royal National Institute of Blind People's annual web and technology accessibility conference and exhibition is coming up next month. This conference embraces everyone and all topics, not just those with visual impairments.
We are currently testing a Web site with real users and naturally we're requesting feedback. To that end we've signed up with UserVoice (
A screen shot of the Feedback dialogue box on blog.UserVoice.com - Firefox 3.