New technology takes simple approach

Nicole Stempak

In addition to mobile access, Kent State also subscribes to Useablenet Assistive.

“Useablenet is basically pushing two product lines, for lack of a better word, (Mobile Education and) ‘Assistive solutions,'” said Jason LaMar, director of information services at Ohio Wesleyan University.

The primary benefit for assistive users is for the technology which needs simple, well-organized content, said Nick Taylor, Useablenet vice president of business development.

“The simpler and more organized the content is, the better,” he said.

Assistive users navigate the Web with the help of a screen reader, which is a synthesized voice that reads content on the Web page back to the user, he said.

Kent State has subscribed to the assistive service for three years.

Amber Wallenstein, a graduate student in rehab counseling, uses a screen reader but has never used Kent State’s mobile site.

“I’ve never heard of it before now, but it’s really cool,” she said. “The way they have this site set up is nice because it has very few links. It’s very uncluttered.”

Ohio Wesleyan, the other university in Ohio that subscribes to Usablenet, saw it as a solution.

“I knew we would have to provide an adaptable service because federal law mandates accessibility of information technology by people with disabilities,” LaMar said. At the same time, “advanced mobile accessibility has become more and more of an issue with smart phones.”

Wallenstein said expanding a Web site’s audience is always a smart idea.

“It’s always good to make your Web site as accessible as you can,” she said.

Contact general assignment reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].