Re-post: Alt-texts: The Ultimate Guide by Daniel Göransson

Alt-texts: The Ultimate Guide

Author: Daniel Göransson

Date Written: Oct 14, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Date Saved: 5/14/19, 1:43 PM

This post contains everything you need to know about alt-texts! When to use them and how to perfectly craft them. By me, Daniel, a web developer with vision impairment who use a screen reader in my day-to-day life.

 

My experience of images on the web

I use a combination of magnification and screen reader when surfing the web. As a rule of thumb, I use magnification on larger screens and a screen reader on smaller devices.

I, like everyone else, come across many images when surfing the web. If I’m using a screen reader I depend on getting a description of the image – the alt-text – read to me.

Many times the alt-text is not helpful, often even a waste of my time because it doesn’t convey any meaning.

Let me illustrate this on The Verge’s startpage. This is what it looks like for sighted people:

 

Below is what I see. I’ve replaced the images with what my screen reader reads:

 

Not very useful, huh?

Here are some common alt-text-fails I come across:

  • “cropped_img32_900px.png” or “1521591232.jpg” – the file names, probably because the image has no alt-attribute.
  • “” – on every image in the article, probably for improving search ranking (SEO).
  • “Photographer: Emma Lee” – probably because the editor doesn’t know what an alt-text is for.

Alt-texts are not always this bad, but there’s usually a lot to improve upon. So whether you are a complete beginner or want to take your “game” to the next level, here’s our ultimate guide to alt-texts!

What is an alt-text

An alt-text is a description of an image that’s shown to people who for some reason can’t see the image. Among others, alt-texts help:

  • people with little or no vision
  • people who have turned off images to save data
  • search engines

The first group – people with little or no vision – is arguably the one that benefits most from alt-texts. They use something called a screen reader to navigate the web. A screen reader transforms visual information to speech or braille. To do this accurately, your website’s images need to have alt-texts.

Alt-texts are super important! So important that the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) have alt-texts as their very first guideline:

All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose.
– WCAG guideline 1.1.1

How do I add an alt-text?

In html, an alt-text is an attribute in an image element:

HTML

Most content management systems (CMS), like WordPress, let you create the alt-text when you upload an image:

 

The field is usually named “Alt-text”, “Alternative text” or “Alt”, but in some interfaces it’s called “Image description” or something similar.

Let’s create the perfect alt-text!

Here are the steps to crafting fabulous alt-texts!

It might sound obvious, but an alt-text should describe the image. For example:
“Group of people on a train station.”
“Happy baby playing in a sand box.”
“Five people in line at a supermarket.”

Things that do not belong in an alt-text are:

  • The name of the photographer. This is very common, but makes absolutely no sense.
  • Keywords for search engine optimization. Don’t cram alt-text with irrelevant words you’re hoping to rank high on Google with. That’s not what alt-texts are for and it will confuse your users.

Content of the alt-text depends on context

How you describe the image depends on its context. Let me give you an example:

 

If this image was featured in an article about photography, the alt-text could be something along the lines of:

“Close up, greyscale photograph of man outside, face in focus, unfocused background.”

If the image is on a website about a TV-series, an appropriate alt-text could be completely different:

“Star of the show, Adam Lee, looking strained outside in the rain.”

So write an alt-text that is as meaningful as possible for the user in the context they’re in.

Keep it concise

Reading the previous section, you might be thinking to yourself: “I, as a sighted user, can see many details in the image, like who it is, how it’s photographed, type of jacket, approximate age of the guy and more. Why not write a detailed, long alt-text so a user with visual impairment gets as much information as I do?”

Glad you asked!

Well frankly, you can also get the necessary information from the image at a glance, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve for users with screen readers as well. Give the necessary information in the alt-text, but make it as short and concise as possible.

One of the few times you should write long alt-texts is when you’re describing an image containing important text. Ideally, you should not have images of text, but sometimes you need to. Like on some screenshots or photos of signs.

But the general rule of thumb is to keep it concise and avoid a verbose experience.

Don’t say it’s an image

Don’t start alt-texts with “Image of”, “Photo of” or similar. The screen reader will add that by default. So if you write “Image of” in an alt-text, a screen reader will say “Image Image of…” when the user focuses on the image. Not very pleasant.

One thing you can do is end the alt-text by stating if it’s a special type of image, like an illustration.

“Dog jumping through a hoop. Illustration.”

End with a period.

End the alt-text with a period. This will make screen readers pause a bit after the last word in the alt-text, which creates a more pleasant reading experience for the user.

Don’t use the title-attribute

Many interfaces have a field for adding title-texts to images close to where you can add an alt-text. Skip the title text! Nobody uses them – they don’t work on touch screens and on desktop they require that the user hovers for a while over an image, which nobody does. Also, adding a title-text makes some screen readers both read the title-text and the alt-text, which becomes redundant. So just don’t add a title-text.

When not to use an alt-text

In most cases you should use an alt-text for images, but there are some exceptions where you should leave the alt-text blank. Important note: never remove the alt-attribute, that would mean breaking the html-standard. But you are allowed to set it to an empty string, that is: alt=””. Do that in the following cases.

Repeated images in feeds

Pretend you’re scrolling through your Twitter feed. Everytime you want to read a new tweet, you first have to listen to “Profile picture of user ”. In my opinion, that would be super annoying!

Other examples of feeds are:

  • A list of links to articles. Like the one on our page Articles.
  • Chat or messaging feeds
  • Feeds of comments

So for an ideal user experience, leave the alt-text blank for images that are used repeatedly in feeds.

Icons with text labels

You should always have text labels next to icons. Assuming you do, the icon should not have an alt-text. Let me explain why!

Let’s take a social media button as an example:

 

If you would write an alt text to the Facebook icon, a screen reader would say something along the line: “Facebook Facebook.” Very redundant!

OK, this is technically not about alt-texts but still important: make sure both the icon and the link text are in the same link-attribute, to get a smooth experience. Like this:
HTML

  

  Facebook

 

Another common mistake with icons is on menu buttons:

 

If the menu button has no visual text label – which, by the way, is really bad for the user experience – then it needs an alt-text (or another way of describing its function in code, like aria-label). Explain the icon’s function, like “Menu”. Don’t write “Three horizontal lines” or “Main hamburger”, which sadly are real examples I’ve stumbled on.

If the menu icon has a label, you should leave the alt-text blank. I often find menu buttons which are read as “Menu menu”. Once I even came across “Hamburger menu menu”. Somewhat confusing wouldn’t you say?

Images in links

Usually an image within a link is accompanied by a link text. Like in the example below:

 

In this case, the image and the link should be in the same link-tag in the html. In this case, you can just leave the alt-text blank. The important thing for the user is to hear the link text. An alt-text of the image would only distract by adding information that the user will not find necessary. The image is probably found on the page that is linked, and then you can give a good explanation of it in the alt-text.

If you really, really have to have an image in a link without an accompanying text, then the alt-text should describe the link destination, not the image.

Preferably, decorative images that do not convey any meaning to the user should be placed as background images in css. It probably goes without saying, but this means you don’t need alt-texts on them at all.

I’d classify most images that you place text on as decorative. You don’t need an alt-text on them. One example is the background image on Netflix’s startpage:

 

Special cases

Logos in the banner

Logos in the banner almost always link to the websites start page. The opinions vary a bit on the topic of alt-texts for logos.

Some say it should include the company name, the fact that it is a logo and the destination of the link. Like such:

“Axess Lab, logotype, go to start page.”

In my opinion, this is a bit verbose. Too much noise! Since my screen reader already tells me it’s an image and a link, I only feel I need to hear the company name. From the fact it’s an image I assume it’s a logo and from the fact it’s a link I assume it follow conventions and links to the start page.

Svg

Scalable vector graphics (svg) is an image format that’s becoming more and more popular on the web. And I love them! They keep their sharpness while zooming and take up less space so websites load faster.

There are a two main ways of adding an svg to an html-page.

  1. Inside an img-element. In that case, just add an alt-text as usual:
HTML
  2. Using an svg-tag. If you use this method, you can’t add an alt-attribute because there’s no support for that. However you can get around this by adding two wai-aria attributes: role=”img” and aria-label=”.

Actually, for the second case, you’re supposed to be able to add your alt-text as a title-element in the svg, but there is not enough support for that from browsers and assistive technologies at the moment.

Can’t a machine do this for me?

Although machine learning and artificial intelligence is improving quickly and can describe some images quite accurately, they are not good enough at understanding the relevant context at the moment. On top of that, machines are not good enough at deciding what is “concise”, and will often describe too much or too little of the image.

Facebook has actually built in a feature that describes images automatically. But I feel like the descriptions are usually too general. One image in my feed right now is described as: “Cat indoors”. The actual photo shows a cat hunting a toy mouse.

So I’m sorry, you still have to write alt-texts yourself!

Thanks for making the web better!

I’m happy you read this far! It means you care about making the web a better place for all users. Spread the knowledge and keep being awesome!

Get notified when we write new stuff

About once a month we write an article about accessibility or usability, that’s just as awesome as this one (#HumbleBrag)!

Get notified by following us on Twitter @AxessLab or Facebook.

Or simply drop your email below!

 

 

 

Guest Post: EXPERIENCES OF LIVE THEATRE DESCRIPTION FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND – SURVEY – CLOSING DATE MAY 30, 2019

EXPERIENCES OF LIVE THEATRE DESCRIPTION FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND – SURVEY – CLOSING DATE MAY 30.

To whom it may concern,

 

There is a research team that is interested in understanding the impact audio description (or live description) for live theatre has on participation in meaningful activities, and improving the services provided by VocalEye, a live description service in British Columbia. The research is overseen by Tal Jarus, Principal Investigator, and researchers from UBC’s Department of Occupational Sciences and Occupational Therapy.

 

If you are:

  • 19 years of age or older
  • Sufficiently proficient in English to complete the survey
  • Blind or partially sighted

 

You are invited to complete an online survey regarding the services offered by VocalEye, whether or not you have been involved with VocalEye in the past.

 

Your responses to the survey will be anonymous. You are being asked to participate in this study because your input and feedback will help improve VocalEye’s services.

 

The consent information is available at the beginning of the survey. You are encouraged to read this consent form before deciding whether or not you want to participate.

 

Closing date of this Survey is on May 30. You can find the survey here:

 

Live Description Survey

 

If you have any questions, please contact the researchers at alexa.jacek@alumni.ubc.ca

 

Thank you for your consideration, on behalf of the research team

 

Tal Jarus, Principal Investigator, Professor,

Department of Occupational Sciences and Occupational Therapy

University of British Columbia

Resource: NaviLens for iOS and Android: The cutting edge technology for the visually impaired

NaviLens for iOS and Android: The cutting edge technology for the visually impaired

Date Saved: 5/13/19, 10:44 AM

Source: http://www.navilens.com/

 

Maximum autonomy for the visually impaired

 

Unlike other markers, such as the well-known QR codes, NaviLens has a powerful algorithm based on Computer Vision capable of detecting multiple markers at great distances in milliseconds, even in full motion without the need of focusing. It is a cost-effective solution with minimum maintenance required.

 

The application is based on a novel system of artificial markers, which combines high density (multitude of combinations) with long range (a 20cm wide marker is detected up to 12 meters away).

In addition, the detection algorithm could read multiple markers at the same time, at high speed and even in full motion.

Discover the interface

100% user friendly interface for the visually impaired

 

See for yourself, YouTube testimonials!

This is how NaviLens can help the visually impaired. Below discover the testimonials of the first users

 

Underground

Ticket machine

Signs

Bus stop

Press

Awards

 

Subscribe to our Newsletter

You will receive the latest updates. We won’t spam you, we promise 🙂 NaviLens is a new integral system of artificial markers based on Computer Vision. It allows the user to read a special tag, displayed in their environment, from a great distance; it also assists in orienting the user toward the tag as well as obtains detailed information associated with that tag in particular in the same way that traditional signs would be read by a person with full visual capacity. To do this, the marker recognition algorithm is complemented by a novel 3D sound system that, without the need for headphones, informs the user of the position, distance, and orientation of the marker. It allows a visually impaired person to navigate in unfamiliar territory with complete autonomy in the same manner a person without a visual impairment could.

 

How to use NaviLens from YouTube:

Published on Dec 28, 2018

NaviLens, an app that makes it easier for visual impaired people to access information through QR codes of colors, has a new functionality available for users to download tags for their own personal use. Until now these tags were available in public spaces such as train stations. In this new functionality, the codes provided are blank for users to record any information about the objects in their environment. The developers have created tags of different sizes that can be adjusted to the needs of remote reading. In addition, they are printable and easily separated.

 

Category

Science & Technology

 

Study on the use of remote, video-based assistance

The following is a message from Envision Research Institute and Wichita State University faculty member Vinod Namboori: 

We are conducting a study on the use of remote, video-based assistance by blind and visually impaired (BVI) individuals. We want to survey BVI individuals who have used mobile apps like Facetime, Skype, BeMyEyes, AIRA to receive remote, video-based assistance from a sighted person. Results of this study will help us understand how mobile apps might best offer remote, video-based sighted assistance to BVI individuals in overcoming challenges faced in performing routine tasks. 

If you are someone with blindness or low vision, and have received remote, video-based assistance in the past, we invite you to complete an anonymous short survey on your experience and preferences. Completing this survey should not take more than 15 minutes using a computer, tablet, or smartphone with reliable Internet connection. Link to survey: https://forms.gle/33NmDtFptnYTVyy26

If you have any questions, please contact Vinod Namboori at vinod.namboodiri@wichita.edu  

 

Re-post: Orbit Reader 20 Removed from APH Catalog

Orbit Reader 20 Removed from APH Catalog
Author: APH Blogger
Date Written: Apr 3, 2019 at 5:00 PM
Date Saved: 4/5/19, 12:44 PM
Source: http://www.fredshead.info/2019/04/orbit-reader-20-removed-from-aph-catalog.html

Photo of the Orbit Reader 20 on a white background.
After months of ongoing negotiations between the Transforming Braille Group (of which APH is a member) and Orbit Research (the manufacturer of the Orbit Reader 20), American Printing House has removed the Orbit Reader 20 from its catalog and shopping site. This comes after discussions have stalled regarding the terms of distribution to TBG partners. The global nonprofits that make up the TBG collaborate as a group to purchase Orbit Reader 20s as part of an effort to keep costs low.
“Working with the TBG, APH has negotiated in good faith for many months, balancing the needs of our customers and organization, our interest in driving a low-cost braille market, and our valuable partnerships with TBG members,” says APH President Craig Meador. “Despite our best efforts, we have not found alignment on the issues at hand. APH must now move forward, and focus our energies on our mission to support students with braille literacy and adults in their independence.”
The Orbit Reader 20 started with a question: “how do we make refreshable braille more affordable?” To that end leaders in the field of blindness from around the world, including APH, gathered to create the Transforming Braille Group. Creating low cost refreshable braille is a difficult task, and there were a lot of setbacks throughout the process. Thankfully the effort had an impact.
“APH was proud to be the company that stood up to be the first to bring this ground-breaking technology to market,” says Meador, “It was all worth it to be an innovator, and show that we could bring prices down. That part worked. We now have competition in the low-cost braille market that wasn’t happening five years ago. Sometimes you have to take a risk – that’s what we did.”
The drop in prices created more access by showing what can be possible. For example, the National Library Service has announced they plan to offer free refreshable braille devices to their readers in the coming years.
APH will continue its efforts to support low cost braille. “Braille cells cost a lot of money to manufacture, and the demand isn’t high enough to drive that price down – we’ll keep trying. Although it’s not an easy journey, we believe everyone who needs braille should have access to it.”
APH and the TBG are continuing to negotiate with Orbit Research in hopes that a resolution can be found. In the meantime, APH is looking at other possible low-cost refreshable braille options to include in its catalog. They will complement new premium refreshable braille devices built for students and educational use now and soon available from APH through a partnership with HumanWare.
Orbit Research is expected to honor the warranty and continue repairs for already purchased Orbit Readers. Any requests for repairs should continue to come through APH. Supporting documentation, like the Orbit User Guide and user videos, will remain available to customers who have purchased an Orbit Reader from APH.

Repost: Google Inbox was the Gmail we desperately needed — but now it’s dead

Google Inbox was the Gmail we desperately needed — but now it’s dead
Author: Jackson Ryan
Date Written: Apr 2, 2019 at 10:10 PM
Date Saved: 4/3/19, 8:46 AM
Source: https://www.cnet.com/news/google-inbox-was-the-gmail-we-desperately-needed-but-now-its-dead/#ftag=CAD0610abe0f
Google Inbox, the much-loved, experimental email client that launched in 2014, is officially dead. And I am officially heartbroken.
I knew this was going to happen. We all did. It still hurts.
Google announced that Inbox’s time was up on Sept. 12, 2018, writing in a blog post the company was shutting it down and “planning to focus solely on Gmail.” Over the past two weeks, incessant warnings have popped up on the desktop and across my phone screen whenever I opened the app.
“This app will be going away in 5 days” it would tell me like a passive-aggressive Doomsday Clock. Each time, it would ask me to switch to Gmail and I’d wave it away with a push: “Not now.”
But it’s all over. This morning, I got this message:

Screenshot by Jackson Ryan/CNET via Google
Gmail was unleashed on the world 15 years ago on April 1 and is now used by around 1.5 billion people every day. It allowed the search engine provider to reach lofty new heights, giving it the confidence to take over the world. When it rolled into town in 2004, it slowly began swallowing up every email client in its path.
AOL Mail? More like LOL Mail. Hotmail? More like… cold mail. Yahoo? Bye.
Slowly we all became engulfed by the email version of The Blob. Email became monotonous, slinking into the shadows, filling up with spam and social media blasts. It gradually became normal. It became boring.
Then in 2014, Google announced Inbox and email was Great Again. It Marie Kondo’d my online life before I even knew who Marie Kondo was. When Sarah Mitroff reviewed Inbox in October 2014, she laid all manner of compliments on the app: “Visually appealing”, “equal parts colorful, clean and cheerful” and “fresh”. Gmail felt like a harsh, sterile hospital next to Inbox’s bright, buoyant Happy-Time-Fun-Land.
Now Inbox is dead, Google has said it will be bringing some of the service’s most popular features over to Gmail. As I’ve finally been forced to switch over, there’s a hole in my heart. Gmail still lacks many of the features that made Inbox so powerful — and so beloved.
There’s work to do to make email Great Again, Again. What can Gmail do to ease the pain?
(, but let’s pretend we can answer that question anyway.)
Bundle of joy
When you read about Inbox’s premature demise, you will no doubt read plenty about “bundles”. Inbox’s clever bundling system was the best thing to ever happen to me, a nearly 30-year-old unmarried man with zero children in a stable, loving relationship.
Inbox had that galaxy-brain energy. The real BDE. Supported by Google’s powerful algorithms, Inbox was able to sort your life out for you. It saw what was dropping in your Inbox and automatically filed it away in its own category via the voodoo magic of machine learning.
It was powerful for bundling all your receipts, purchases, holidays and business trips, placing all that information in easy-to-navigate, simple-to-find locations. I never even had to think about manually labeling or filing emails with Inbox — it just worked, from Day One. And it continued to work until it was dead.
Finding details about a trip home took seconds in Inbox, a one-click process that returned my booking, accommodation, the car I’d hired and any tours I’d booked while I was away. In Gmail, I have to sift through a torrent of banking statements, receipts, a regretful order I made for Thai food when I was sloshed three nights ago and a random PR email about their genius April Fools’ Day stunt.
There have been rumblings that Google will also be bringing bundles across to Gmail, though a timeline for that update is currently unknown so, thanks, big G — my life is now a living hell.
This is how you remind me
Besides bundles, Inbox quickly became the place where I started my day because it centralized my to-do list.
Email is, essentially, just a place where tasks get filed and Inbox’s “Reminders” feature was critical to this. In the same way you would compose an email, you could set yourself a reminder that would jump to the top of your Inbox. At the end of a busy day, I’d whip a few little reminders in for the following morning.
And sure, I can do this with Gmail’s “Tasks” integration but this opens an entirely new window on the side of my desktop. That’s a game of hide-and-seek that I don’t want to play. Because reminders were able to be pinned or snoozed, they were unobtrusive, nesting neatly within the inbox like a digital post-it note.
I don’t know why Gmail doesn’t have reminders. I can’t tell you why. They exist in other G suite services, like Calendar and Keep, but not in Gmail.
Inbox is like the Carly Rae Jepsen of email. It swept in and took the world by surprise with its spark and smarts and brightness and now, every waking moment without it is torture. Gmail, in contrast, is the Nickelback of modern email clients. It’s the homogenized radio-rock version of email.
In fact, maybe it’s worse. Maybe it’s Smash Mouth.
G’mourning
Attention spans are being obliterated by the internet and my apartment is a disorganized mess.
I mean, it’s tidy — but there’s no rhyme or reason to how I file away important tax documents, receipts or mementos. Invoking the holy name of Kondo, I tried to improve my systems a month ago. That amounted to buying more boxes and storing more things in those boxes.
I couldn’t organize myself in the real world, but with the power of machine learning and AI, Google Inbox made sure I could do it when I was inside the internet.
And I wasn’t alone.
Search for Google Inbox on Twitter and you’ll find tales of woe and misery. You’ll find users decrying the switch to Gmail. You’ll find them celebrating the life of an email service as if it were their own flesh and blood. Like the untimely deaths at Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding, we’re all watching on in horror at the injustice.
No one is celebrating. Everybody’s mourning.
New world order
But it’s all over.
Inbox was so good because it was so easy. It was . It was . It bundled emails together long before Gmail was doing anything of the sort. It felt like it was made for me and only me. I didn’t have to spend mornings sifting through mountains of internet text. I could get what I needed and get on with life.
It was also a calming, soft blue rather than an alarming, CHECK-YOUR-EMAIL-NOW red. That’s a fact that gets lost in this funeral. Even the logo is an open letter with a positive, life-affirming tick, rather than the closed, menacing red “M” made famous in Gmail.
I could go on and on, but I digress.
Google has slowly integrated some of Inbox’s best features into Gmail. Snoozing emails, smart replies and nudges to remind you to follow up on your to-do list were all pioneered in Inbox. On Gmail’s 15th birthday, it even brought in a host of new features, like enabling emails to be scheduled and sent at a later time and improving its Smart Compose feature, which offers suggestions to make writing email a lot faster.
I’m holding on as long as possible. The mobile version of Inbox is now six feet under, taking its place in the Google Graveyard next to Reader, Hangouts, Google Plus and Allo, but the desktop version of Inbox lives on (at least, for now). Inbox clones are popping up, aiming to make the transition period easier, but its fate is sealed.
I can do without Hangouts or Plus. Somehow, I even survived after the transition away from Reader.
But this one really stings.

BC Government Internship Opportunities: Work-Able Job Posting Accepting Applicants Until April 30, 2019

Reminding you that the educational requirements for the 2019/20 Work-Able Graduate Internship Program has expanded. Applicants who have a two year Diploma or an Associate’s degree are now eligible to apply.  Work-Able still accepts applicants with a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree.

 

This year, Work-Able is pleased to offer an increase of internships from 15 to 21.

 

The expanded eligibility criteria and the 6 additional internships will allow more applicants who meet the eligibility criteria to:

  • Attend an information session on how to successfully apply for internships
          • Practice competency based interviewing
  • Receive coaching and feedback throughout the recruitment process
  • Secure an internship

 

Please note: Not everybody that applies will secure an internship, however it is a unique chance to increase knowledge and develop skills on how to be successful in any government hiring competition.

 

Please share this exciting opportunity with your networks: Work-Able Job Posting

 

The posting is open till April 30th.

 

Questions?

 

Please contact Nadia.Valckx@gov.bc.ca or Odette.Dantzer@gov.bc.ca

 

 

 

Resources: Google Photos Will Now Automatically Detect Your Documents by Paul Monckton, Forbes.com

Google Photos Will Now Automatically Detect Your Documents

Author: Paul Monckton

Date Written: Mar 30, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Date Saved: 3/30/19, 11:01 PM

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulmonckton/2019/03/30/google-photos-will-now-automatically-detect-your-documents/

Smartphone cameras are useful for a lot more than selfies and landscapes; they also make very handy portable document scanners. Now Google Photos has launched a new feature designed specifically to make your documents look more presentable and legible.

 

Google’s new Crop and Adjust feature takes care of photographed documents and receipts Documents, unlike people or places, are designed to be read rather than admired and this usually requires an entirely different approach when it comes to processing them and making them look their best. This often involves using functions such as rotating, cropping, sharpening and perhaps converting them to black and white for maximum readability.

The new “Crop and Adjust” feature in Google Photos will detect any photographed documents and suggest suitable edits such as those listed above which can then be implemented automatically in a single tap.

The result is a correctly-rotated document with the background removed and any text made as clear as possible.

Google Photos users will find the Crop and Adjust rolling out soon on iOS and Android.

If you find this function useful, then it’s worth checking out the ‘Scan’ function built into the Google Drive app. The app provides a similar set of automatic enhancements to the new Google Photos function, with the added facility of saving your documents directly to your Google Drive as a PDF rather than a jpeg. Android users can also place a Google Scan widget for one-touch access to the document scanning function.

 

 

Resources: Breaking barriers: accessibility at home a costly process, by Blair Crawford, Ottawa Citizen

Breaking barriers: accessibility at home a costly process

Author: Blair Crawford

Date Written: Mar 29, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Date Saved: 3/30/19, 9:34 PM

Source: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/ottawa-firm-specializes-in-accessibilty-renovations

 

Jennifer and Eli Glanz with daughter Emilia in the master bathroom they had modified to accommodate Jenifer’s wheelchair.

It’s just a few centimetres high, but the sill of the sliding glass door that leads to the back deck of her Barrhaven home is a mountain to Jennifer Glanz.

“It’s little, but I can’t get over it,” said Glanz, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair. Glanz and her husband, Eli, have already installed a $4,000 electric lift in their garage so that Jennifer can get out of the house, and recently completed a renovation to make their bathroom barrier free.

They moved with their daughter Emelia, 3 1/2, to a bungalow a few years ago when Jennifer’s deteriorating condition made it impossible for her to manage the stairs in their former two-storey home. The small ramp over the door sill is the next item on their reno list for summer — “if we ever get a summer,” Jennifer jokes.

“It’s the next project. And a ramp down to the grass. Emilia will be playing on the grass this summer and it would be nice to be there with her.”

Whether it’s a senior who wants to age in place in her own home, a person battling a debilitating illness, or someone injured in a sudden, catastrophic tragedy like the Westboro OC Transpo bus crash, those facing disability find that barriers abound in the home. In fact, 22 per cent Canadians live with some sort of physical disability, according to Statistics Canada.

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“The older you get, the more likely you are to have a disability,” says Patrick Curran, national executive director of Independent Living Canada, a national non-profit agency that advocates for those living with disabilities and promotes independent living.

“And if you live long enough, you will have a disability.”

Many of the modifications needed to make a home accessible are obvious: a wheelchair ramp to the front door, for example. Others aren’t so apparent.

“One item that’s a really big, especially for someone with head injuries, is lighting,” said Sean MacGinnis, co-founder BuildAble, an Ottawa company that specializes in building and renovating homes for accessibility. “You want lighting that won’t put a strain on your eyes. Or if it’s for someone who has a visual impairment, better lighting will eliminate shadows and help them see any changes in elevation in their home.”

MacGinnis founded BuildAble five years ago with partner Kyla Cullain, a registered nurse. The company works closely with their clients’ medical teams — their family doctor or occupational therapist, for example — to develop an appropriate construction plan, he said.

“We started the company out focusing on people who are aging in place, but we’ve found the majority of our clients are people who have had a medical crisis, MS or a stroke or something like that … and we do have a lot of people who’ve been in vehicle accidents too. They’re in mid-life and they want to stay in their homes or they have family that they don’t want to move.”

For Eli and Jennifer Glanz, that meant redoing their bathroom to make it accessible. BuildAble installed a barrier free bathroom that Jennifer can roll up to and swing herself into a spare wheelchair that stays in the shower. The tile floor slopes gently to a drain and a waterproof barrier under the entire bathroom floor means spills or floods cause no damage.

The old sink and vanity was replaced with a “floating sink” that lets Jennifer wheel up to it like a desk. Three heavy-duty handrails give support and stability at the toilet.

“For the longest time we had a standard tub and shower that you see in most showers. Jennifer can’t transfer herself into a standard tub, even if there’s a shower seat. It would be me physically lifting her up and into the tub. That was hard for both of us,” Eli said.

“She keeps reminding me, I only have one back.”

“It brought more independence to me,” Jennifer said. “Before, I would have to have him home and helping me have a shower. Now I don’t. He doesn’t know how many times I shower.”

It cost $15,000 to renovate the bathroom, about 80 per cent of which was paid for with grants from March of Dimes. The family had to cover the cost of the garage lift on their own.

Another clever addition are offset hinges that allow doors to swing completely out of the way, adding a crucial extra five centimetres width to the doorway for Jennifer’s chair to pass.

The simplest and most common modification to a home is to add grab bars and handrails, MacGinnis said, including railings on both sides of a staircase. In the kitchen, countertops and cabinets can be made to lower to wheelchair level, while full-extension drawers are easier to access without awkward reaching.

One of BuildAble’s biggest jobs was to add a full elevator to a home for a man with Parkinson’s Disease, he said.

The cost can vary widely. The cost of home modifications are often included in the insurance payout for accident victims or — as in the case of an Ottawa Public servant who is suing the city for $6.3 million for injuries in the Westboro bus crash — part of the lawsuit claim. Others are helped with the cost through grants from the March of Dimes and other charities or through tax breaks.

“There’s a lot of low-cost things we can do that have a high impact,” MacGinnis said. A grab bar might cost $100. A second staircase railing $1,000. A wooden ramp to the door can range from $500 to $5,000, while a more aesthetically pleasing ramp of interlocking brick could cost $15,000 to $20,000.

A barrier-free bathroom costs between $12,000 and $15,000 while a full reno to make a kitchen full accessible can run up to $30,000, he said.

In Ontario, someone who has suffered catastrophic injuries in a car crash is eligible for $1 million in under the province’s the province’s Statutory Accident Benefit Schedule. But for non-catastrophic injuries, that benefit is capped at $65,000 and will only last five years, said lawyer Najma Rashid, a partner in Howard Yegendorf & Associates.

“Just because someone’s injuries aren’t catastrophic, doesn’t mean they’re not serious,” Rashid said. “Many people with serious injuries might be stuck with that $65,000 and it’s only available for five years so they have to make a judgment call as to whether they’re going to use part of the money for changes to their home or for ongoing treatment needs.”

Additional costs could become part of a lawsuit claim, she said. Lawyers would work with their clients medical team or hire an occupational therapist or consultant to determine what renovations are needed and their cost.

“And if they do claim it in a lawsuit, they have to wait for that lawsuit to be over. Or self fund it and look for a reimbursement, but most people don’t have the money to pay for it themselves.”

Those looking for more information on improving accessibility will be able to find it Independent Living Canada’s AccessABLE Technology Expo on May 30 at the Ottawa Conference and Events Centre on Coventry Road. The one-day expo will bring together 20 exhibitors with a broad range of products for disabilities such as visual or hearing loss, cognitive impairment and mental health issues. Admission is free, Curran said.

“We’re doing this to build awareness for Independent Living Canada,” Curran said. “But we also want to give to hope to people who have disabilities — to show them that there are people out there doing research and introducing new products that will be of interest to them.”

For more information, visit ilcanada.ca

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