Product accessibility is Yahoo's business strategy

Rather than treating it simply as an altruistic gesture, Yahoo has incorporated it as part of its business strategy. “It makes business sense to make our products accessible,” said head of Yahoo’s accessibility lab Victor Tsaran, who works out of Yahoo’s head quarters in Sunnyvale.

“Our priority is to ensure that no user of Yahoo’s product is discriminated because he/she happened to use different methods to access contents such as screen readers (in the case of the blind), magnifiers (used by those with low vision) and refreshable braillers.

It’s not just because they have the right, it’s also because it’s possible to build accessibility features into web technology using available guidelines, something our team takes up,” Tsaran, himself a technologist with vision challenge, said.

Accessibility conference

The Ukrainian-born American will be delivering the key-note speech at the ‘Accessibility Conference’ jointly hosted by Yahoo and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in Bangalore on Saturday.

The event is being attended by several IT companies, government and non-government organisations.

A long way

Pointing at products such as the iPad, S60 phones and rapidly emerging free and opensource screen reading technology such as Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA), Tsaran said end-point products in the market today have come a long way in providing accessibility for those using the devices making web accessibility a priority for internet companies.

“In addition, features –– built through Accessible Rich Internet Application (ARIA) –– also ensure the rights of such users are respected. Given the openness of the internet itself and the way it has empowered people, it’s only natural that it addresses the requirements of those with disability,” the technologist said.

Tsaran also said the conference would address the challenges posed by some of the emerging technology such as mobile and multimedia applications and accessibility standards to interface them.

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