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Tag: News

Minecraft 1.14.0 Java edition adds accessibility menu and features

 Minecraft, the block-building computer game, remains one of the most popular video game titles of all time. Despite the game recently celebrating its 10th birthday, it continues to draw a crowd with an estimated 91 million active users continuing to enjoy the interaction with blocks, zombies and creepers as of March 2019. While the game already has a global following, it may see growth among disabled gamers due to recent improvements to the Java edition of the game.

Minecraft screenshot featuring a person walking along a beach with captions

In its recent 1.14.0 major update known as Village and Pillage the first bullet point states that there are “lots of accessibility improvements!” The Release Notes provide more specific detail, outlining the accessibity improvements as:

  • There’s a new Accessibility menu which provides a useful place for all of our accessibility features to be toggled
  • When the narrator is turned on, buttons will be narrated on focus
  • Most screens allow tab and shift+tab navigation through buttons, edit boxes and other UI elements
  • Most lists allow up/down arrow keys to navigate through them
  • We’ve added a new option for turning up the background of all transparent text elements, which should help make them more readable for some people

Minecraft accessibility menu screenshot

With the help of player SuperkidsST I was able to try out the use of Narrator in Windows 10 and could successfully move around the buttons and read out text. The other accessibility features appear to work well too. The inclusion of the new menu panel made it much easier to locate the features and quickly toggle between them.

Given the age of the Minecraft Java edition, it’s great to see Microsoft continuing to improve the accessibility of the game. Special thanks to SuperkidsST for helping me to see the accessibility features in action.

The internet thinks you’re a robot, and other ‘dark patterns’ people with disabilities face online: ABC

Interest in the area of digital access appears to be receiving more mainstream interest in Australia with the ABC writing an article relating to online dark patterns and how they affect people with a disability.

In the article, titled The internet thinks you’re a robot, and other ‘dark patterns’ people with disabilities face online, journliast Ariel Bogle discusses the challenges faced by people with disabilities due to web accessibility, current government policy and CAPTCHA. Due to several of these issues overlapping with my work, I was invited to share a few thoughts for the article. The first part of the article is as follows:

Scott Hollier logged into an online portal recently, and was immediately faced with a familiar yet irritating internet question: “How many of these pictures include buses?”

CAPTCHA security tests, or the “Completely Automated Public Turing Test, to Tell Computers and Humans Apart”, are not always accessible to people with disabilities — sometimes putting them, ridiculously, in the “robot” category.

“I had two choices,” said Dr Hollier, a digital access specialist who is legally blind.

“I could either not do what I needed to do for my work. Or I could ask my 11-year-old son to come figure it out for me.”

The article continues to discuss the issues of dark patterns and explores the challenges accessibility causes along with the importance of WCAG 2.1 and the need for people with a disability to be involved in user testing.

While it was exciting in itself to be given the opportunity to contribute to the article, it’s even more exciting that this is the second news story in recent months on the tpic, following on from the ABC article Call for online disability access standards for computers from Equal Opportunity Commission posted in April.

Thanks to Ariel for the opportunity to contribute to the article and again great to see continued reporting of digital access issues and the need to improve Australian policy and legislative frameworks.

OZeWAI 2020 national conference coming to Perth in February

OZeWAI, Australia’s national digital accessibility conference, has announced that it will be holding its next gathering in Perth, Western Australia and co-locating with the Perth Web Accessibility Camp (PWAC). The camp will be held 11-13 February 2020.

In an e-mail announcement, it was stated that:

“OzeWAI is partnering with the Perth Web Accessibility Camp (PWAC) to host the Australian Accessibility Conference. Our conference aim is to enhance the professional understanding of accessibility across Australia through networking, education and industry certification.

Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about and contribute to the future direction of accessibility.
  • Collaborate in the accessibility ‘Shark Tank’
  • Undertake internationally recognised industry certification exams
  • Celebrate achievements in accessibility”

The OZeWAI conference has been running for over 20 years with this marking its first time being held in Perth. By co-locating with the seventh Perth Web Accessibility Camp the move ensures that attendees will be supported whether they are just starting out on the accessibility journey or are seasoned digital access professionals.

Additional information can be found on the OZeWAI website. You can also view a selection of PWAC 2019 highlights.

Apple adds new accessibility features to iOS, iPadOS

As Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) draws to a close for 2019, it’s a good time to recap its announcements regarding accessibility improvements for its portable devices such as the iPhone running iOS and the iPad running iPadOS, a recently announced OS improvement for the tablet.

In an interview conducted by Tim Hardwick for TechCrunch with Apple’s Director of Global Accessibility Policy & Initiatives Sarah Herrlinger, several new accessibility features were revealed relating to voice control and display features.

Features include:

  • Voice control: a new feature that provides support to editing and menu navigation and advanced dictation capabilities. Apple has also indicated that the update provides better support in understanding different accents.
  • Mouse support: provided as an accessibility feature, a mouse can now be used for people with a mobility limitation that makes it difficult to use a touchscreen. Apple will provide additional information on which USB and Bluetooth models will work n the near future.
  • Dark theme: this will allow the interface to feature a darker background with light colour text which will significantly improve the ability to see the screen for some vision impairments

In addition the updates have included some minor improvements to established assistive technologies such as the VoiceOver screen reader.

The iOS13 and iPadOS updates are currently only available to developers but will roll out to compatible iPhone and iPad devices in the coming months.

W3C WAI CAPTCHA Note third draft now online

The formalising of advice by W3C WAI regarding the the inaccessibility of CAPTCHA has now published its third draft as it draws closer to becoming a formal advisory note.

The update, which I’ve been involved in, follows on from the original CAPTCHA draft at which point it was announced that:  

“The Accessible Platform Architectures Working Group has published a Working Draft of a revision to Inaccessibility of CAPTCHA at: Inaccessibility of CAPTCHA has been a Working Group Note since 2005. It describes problems with common approaches to distinguish human users of web sites from robots, and examines a number of potential solutions. Since the last publication, the abilities of robots to defeat CAPTCHAs has increased, and new technologies to authenticate human users have come available. This update brings the document up to date with these new realities. It is published as Working Draft to gather public review, after which it is expected to be republished as a Working Group Note.”

This latest version of the draft includes a general restructure of the Note, new guidance relating to Google reCAPTCHA and new guidance on CAPTCHA as it relates to security authentication and biometrics.

As an invited expert for the W3C WAI APA Research Questions Task Force (RQTF), it’s been a privilege to work with Janina, Michael and Jason on updating the note alongside the hard work of all the RQTF members.  As the Note continues to be refined ready for publication it remains a great experience to be involved in the process.