Northwest Access Fund Seeking Executive Director

The following post is copied from an email distributed to a public email list with a request to circulate. I am sharing the full content here because I have not found this posted online at a web address I can share.

Executive Director – Northwest Access Fund

The Northwest Access Fund is seeking an Executive Director with excellent nonprofit management, outreach, and fundraising skills. The Access Fund is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) established to promote access to technology and economic opportunity for people with disabilities in Washington and Oregon.

The Access Fund provides low interest loans, matched savings accounts, financial counseling, and other financing services. It helps people of all ages with disabilities of all types to acquire the technologies needed to live independently, to succeed at school, at work, at play and in the community, to build assets, and otherwise improve their socio-economic circumstances. The Fund has a small highly dedicated staff (6+ total FTE) and a committed 15-member Board of Directors—a majority of them are individuals with disabilities–with a range of skills in community development, assistive technology, banking, and disability policy.

This position is hired by and under the general supervision of the Board of Directors.

We are committed to the principle of equal employment opportunity for all employees and to providing employees with a work environment free of discrimination and applicants for employment will be considered without attention to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran or disability status.

Job Responsibilities:

  • Provide strategic leadership and program direction and development within the context of organizational vision, mission, and core values under the general discretion and authority of the Board of Directors.
  • Implement organization’s priorities and objectives as established by the Board.
  • Work closely with and seek counsel from the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors. Provide regular reports to the Board of Directors. Support the Board of Directors with regards to meetings, board development, and planning.
  • Work closely with the Development Director and other staff to conduct public relations and outreach activities. Oversee an annual Development Plan in collaboration with the Development Director.
  • Spearhead the research of and response to grant opportunities, and solicit corporate and grant funding in conjunction with Development Director and program staff. Contribute significantly to the writing and submission of grant and other funding applications.
  • Responsible for overall financial management of the organization. In collaboration with the Finance Manager and Board Treasurer, manage total current assets of approximately $2 million and an operating budget of $700,000. Draft annual budget in collaboration with the Finance Manager and Board Financial Committee for full Board approval.
  • Responsible for management and supervision of all staff, including hiring of new staff, providing for an annual evaluation, and maintaining high level of staff retention. Delegate and assign administrative, program, and development tasks as needed. Provide effective communication and cultivate an office environment that allows for professional development.
  • Ensure compliance with all grant requirements and supervise preparation of grant and other program status reports to Board, grant sponsors, and other funders.

Considerations:

  • Minimum of 3 years relevant nonprofit management experience
  • Experience with community development lending and/or asset building strategies for low-income populations
  • Established experience in fundraising, grant writing and submission
  • Strong fiscal management skills and adequate understanding of non-profit accounting
  • Knowledge of disability community and disability/assistive technology policy issues
  • Strong background in program development, management, and outcomes evaluation
  • Excellent people skills and ability to work with diverse populations
  • Strong public speaking skills
  • Ability and availability to travel within the states of Washington and Oregon.

Additional Desired Considerations

  • Advanced degree, or equivalent experience, in public administration, community development, business administration or related field
  • Experience with and/or knowledge of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)
  • Experience with and/or knowledge of the Assistive Technology Act Programs

Salary:

Starting salary between $75,000 and $90,000 dependent upon qualifications and experience. Benefits will include annual and sick leave, health, dental & vision coverage, and a simple IRA.

Expected start date:

The beginning of October and is negotiable.

Application Procedures:

Please email a resume and cover letter by September 8, 2017 to Alan Knue, Board President, at
aknue@uw.edu. Please specifically address your relevant experience and reasons why you are interested in this position.

All questions regarding this position may also be directed to Alan Knue at the above email address.

Nominations Open for the 2017 Northwest Access Fund Awards

The Northwest Access Fund is seeking nominations for their 2017 awards. Awards recognize individuals, organizations and businesses that have made a positive impact for people with disabilities in five different categories. The categories include:

  • Innovation Award
  • Best Practices Award
  • Recreational Engagement Award
  • Frances Pennell Economic Opportunity Award
  • Ron Adams Outstanding Advocate Award

Nominations are due by September 15, 2017. You can submit nominations via an online form.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Northwest Access Fund’s award dinner for the past two years and have walked away deeply touched bye the range of talent, passion and energy exhibited by everyone involved with this organization. Previous award winners run the full range from individuals who make amazing contributions to corporations that devote resources toward accessibility and making a positive impact.

The 2017 Awards will be presented at the organization’s fourth annual Awards Dinner on Thursday, November 2, 2017 at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, Washington. If you are in the area, it is an event well worth attending.

Using Excel to Track a Fantasy Football Draft

For the past several years I’ve taken part in a family fantasy football league. Each year when draft time comes around, I start my process of figuring out how I’m not only going to draft my team but also keep track of the full draft results. As a member of the league, I want to draft the best possible team. As league commissioner, I need to know the full draft results because I’m responsible for entering our draft into Yahoo, where we run the league. Most importantly, as a part of the gang that comes together each year for the draft, I want to enjoy the experience and not just focus on playing draft tracker to get all the data. As a user of screen reading technology, I want an experience that works well with the technology I use.

Our league uses an auction style draft. For those unfamiliar with fantasy football, this basically means that each league member is given a budget of $200 to invest in building a team of 16 players. We draw numbers to determine what’s known as a nominating order where each of us then nominates a player and then auction-style bidding takes place until someone wins the auction to have that player on their team. This process continues until every team in the league has 16 players.

Our draft generally takes about four hours. This means that over 240 minutes, we are drafting a total of 160 players. That translates to an average of one player every 1.5 minutes. That is definitely just an average because in the early rounds, we can spend five or more minutes per player. In the late rounds, when few people have any auction money to spend, it isn’t uncommon to spend 15 seconds per player.

Fantasy football is a booming business and you can buy paper draft kits from many locations. We use a paper draft board with stickers for player names and then manual writing and tracking of money spent and calculation of remaining money on draft day. Stickers are color-coded by position such that running backs might be red and wide receivers blue. Thus it is easy for everyone in the room to quickly determine when someone’s team is getting a bit position heavy as mine did by my drafting perhaps a few too many running backs early on.

In addition to tracking what players are assigned to what team, I wanted to track how much auction money each league member had spent, how many players they had drafted, how many players they still needed, and what we call their remaining max bid. That last talks about the maximum they can spend on any given player and still field a full team. At some point, most turn into “one-dollar guys” because of the number of players they still need and the money they have left. This is when the auction moves quickly. In short, I wanted to duplicate what we track on paper.

I also wanted my process to allow me to communicate with everyone else about what was going on during the draft. And again, more importantly, I didn’t want my process to interrupt from the experience, which is equally about the conversations, banter and time together with family and friends.

As I mentioned early on, I’ve been doing this league for several years so figuring out what strategy I was going to use to track the draft wasn’t a new exploration for me. My choice came down to RotoWire’s 2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit or using Excel. RotoWire’s app is quite good and does allow for tracking all the items I’ve mentioned. For me the biggest limitation is just in the speed at which you can enter data rapidly in a fast-paced environment and then review it when using VoiceOver on an iPhone or iPad.

Excel is basically a blank slate so for me picking Excel meant I’d have to find a good source of player data that would easily import into Excel. It also meant I’d have to work out all the details on formulas and such to track what I wanted. That said, Excel has powerful keyboard access and pivot tables make tracking some of what I needed quite easy.

This year I opted for Excel and decided to invest a bit of time ahead of the draft to make my process as efficient as possible. Here’s a bit more background on what I did.

Player Data

You can find dozens of NFL fantasy rankings and cheat sheets online. Few of these work well for importing into Excel because they are generally formatted for printing. The best site I’ve found for obtaining player data that easily loads into Excel is the NFL’s fantasy player data. You can select from the various positions and then get a table of players for that position.

Loading the data itself into Excel is where I have come to appreciate the versatility of the copy and paste functionality the JAWS screen reader has for dealing with web content. JAWS has two modes for copying and pasting text from the web. A setting allows you to choose between using what JAWS calls the Virtual PC cursor view of the page and what JAWS calls on-screen highlighting.

For those unfamiliar with screen reading technology, the Virtual PC view presents web content in a more linear fashion and adds more details about page structure such as headings, lists and tables. It is excellent for reading web pages but not so much for copying and pasting where you want to retain formatting.

Using JAWS, copying the player data involved just a few key presses. I navigated to one of the positions I was interested in, such as quarterbacks, and pressed the letter t to navigate to the table of data. JAWS, like other screen readers, allows users to press hotkeys to navigate to various parts of a web page, such as t for tables, h for headings and so on.

Next, I pressed F8, a JAWS hotkey to select all the text and formatting of the item with focus on a web page. Note before doing this you must press up arrow once, since by default JAWS positions the user on the data in the first cell of the table when using the letter t to jump to a table.

After selecting the text, I simply pressed control+c, the default Windows shortcut for copy, used Alt+Tab until I was back to Excel, moved to the location where I wanted the player data pasted and pressed control+v to paste the result.

Building My Spreadsheet

In building my spreadsheet, I had to think about several factors. As one example, was I going to put the data for each position on a different sheet in an Excel file or use one sheet for all data. I opted for a single sheet and pasted all the different position data into that sheet. That allows for rapid searching of player names when tracking draft picks. I made one key improvement though, that takes advantage of a basic keyboard navigation feature in Excel.

As my first column, I inserted headings for the different position types. For example, in Cell A2, I inserted the term QB. The NFL data includes at least 40 players for the quarterback position, so I knew my next position of player data would start appearing in row 42. Row 1 was overall column headers, rows 2-41 quarterback data and row 42 is where wide receiver data started. So, in cell A42, I put a header of Wide Receiver. I continued this pattern for all player data.

The result was that column 1 of my spreadsheet had just a few pieces of data and I could then use the key control+up or control+down arrow to quickly jump from player group to player group. When using Excel from the keyboard, control and the four arrow keys will jump to the next cells with data in that direction, skipping over blank cells.

After copying and pasting all the player data, I made just a couple more modifications to my basic spreadsheet. I’m a big fan of the Tel Me feature in Office applications, so pressed alt+q and entered the term insert and used Tell Me to add two new columns to my spreadsheet. I added these immediately after the player name. One column was for tracking the team that selected the player and one for the dollar amount.

I also wanted to ensure I didn’t make typing errors during the auction because some of the calculations I wanted to do would then not work correctly. I used Excel’s data validation functionality to ensure I only entered correct team names.

Tracking the Draft with a Pivot Table

Pivot tables are a very powerful feature in Excel for examining data in various ways. At the most basic level, a pivot table allows you to assign data to categories such as rows, columns, values or a filter in the resulting table. Excel then takes care of all the calculations, such as quickly adding the totals for all the items in a certain column. Part of the power of this feature then comes from the ability to quickly adjust what data is assigned to what category and view your results.

For my basic pivot table I wanted to track how many players were assigned to each team, the money spent by each owner, how much money was remaining and the maximum that could be spent on any given player. I started by inserting a basic pivot table by choosing the Insert Ribbon with alt+n and then tabbing once to the pivot table option. I could have pressed alt+n, v to do the same directly.

At this point Excel asks you for the data you want to use for the pivot table. The default for this is the range of the sheet you are on when you ask to add a pivot table. Again I had copied my data from the NFL’s web site so wasn’t confident it would have every possible player so I had to ensure to increase the range of the data I was going to use to account for the fact that I might manually enter players during the draft. This simply involved typing an updated range reference.

I next selected the defaults offered by Excel to add the pivot table to a new sheet and the OK button. I then had my new pivot table ready for me to choose how I wanted to view the data.

Choosing the Data for a Pivot Table

After you insert a pivot table, Excel moves you to the new sheet and positions you on cell A3 of the new sheet. To choose what data is assigned to the different categories, press F6 to move to the field list. By default you are on a search box where you could search for different names of data. The number of fields in my table was small so I simply tabbed once to the list of fields available and used the up and down arrows to move to different fields. To use a field, from the keyboard press Shift+F10 on the field name, and choose where you want it used in the pivot table.

My pivot table was very basic. I added the field team owner, referring to the fantasy football teams in our league, to my table rows. I then added Player to values. In this case I wasn’t interested in the specific players, just the count. Last I added price, again to values. In this case I was interested in Excel adding up the money spent by each team.

After finishing with my selections, I pressed F6 until I was back to the spreadsheet area for my pivot table. I now had a table with three columns. The columns were by default Team Owner, Count of Player and Count of Price. Count of was text added by Excel.

Again Player and Price were columns I told Excel to add to the values section of my pivot table. When you do this, Excel chooses defaults for how the data should be summarized. There are a range of options but in this case the two I was interested in were count and sum. For the players, Excel’s default choice of count was just fine. However, for price, I needed to make a change.

To change how Excel summarizes data in a pivot table, move to the data and press Shift+F10 on one of the cells. The resulting menu will have an option listed as Summarize By. From that choose the option you want. In my case, I chose sum, meaning I wanted Excel to add the actual values. For comparison, count simply adds whether data exists or not, independent of the value of that data. Had I left the Price to be summarized by count, when the draft was done, each row would have shown a value of 16. By changing the summarization to sum, Excel added up the actual dollar amounts used.

Final Steps

Before I was ready for the draft, I made some final functional and cosmetic changes to my pivot table. I added some basic formulas to take the money spent and subtract that from $200, our total allowed, to be able to keep track of how much money each person had left in a fourth column. I added a fifth column, to show the maximum amount that could be spent on any given player. Last I adjusted the names of the columns where Excel had inserted default text of count and such, just to give myself more user-friendly names.

While this was enough for most of what I wanted for the draft, I added a second pivot table. In this case I added player to both values and columns. This made a very large table but allowed me to use control left and right arrow to jump through all the players taken by each team during the draft.

Draft Day

Overall my spreadsheet worked well on draft day. For the majority of the draft I had no trouble keeping up with the pace of the draft. In the last hour, Excel crashed a couple times on me, requiring a machine reboot and some behind-the-scenes updating of player selections. The pivot table tracking of money spent worked better than expected and over the course of the draft became the source of truth for who had what left to spend. As for my fantasy team, we’ll have to wait for the NFL season to play itself out to see how I did.

Interesting Details From Winn-Dixie Legal Ruling

As I’m sure most in the web accessibility arena have heard by now, a Florida judge ruled that the regional grocer Winn-Dixie must make the company’s web site accessible. As usual Lainey Feingold has an excellent summary of the details. The full legal ruling is also available.

Reading through the full document, a few interesting tidbits of information jumped out at me. I’m always interested in the dollars and cents of accessibility costs.

Prior to this ruling, Winn-Dixie indicates it had set aside $250,000 to make the web site accessible.

Since launching the web site, Winn-Dixie has spent at least $7million for updates, without addressing accessibility.

The accessibility expert in the case estimates all accessibility issues could be fixed for around $37,000 and certainly not the $250,000 given by Winn-Dixie.

Interestingly, the plaintiff in the case testified that he expected to be able to use ctrl+s to jump to search fields on web sites. This one is particularly interesting to me because this is rarely the case and in fact it is generally on Windows alt+s that would be used, if such a shortcut were provided in my experience. Further, the Winn-Dixie web site does use alt+s as of now to jump to the search box. This may not have been the case earlier.

While I haven’t done a full review of the web site since reading this legal settlement, I will say it is still baffling to me at one level how many basic accessibility issues that are easily corrected get shipped. In less than five minutes I can quickly identify multiple issues that the most basic accessibility review would find.

Last, the full list of requirements placed on Winn-Dixie are an interesting read. Here they are as taken from the legal ruling. All seem reasonable to me but I’m particularly pleased to see the call to include vendors on the web site, the call for training and the repeated auditing to ensure continued compliance.

  1. Shall not, no later than __(date)__________, deny individuals with disabilities, including the Plaintiff, the opportunity to participate and benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations provided through its website www.winndixie.com. The website must be accessible by individuals with disabilities who use computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones.
  2. Shall not, no later than __(date)__________, provide individuals with disabilities, including the Plaintiff, an unequal opportunity to participate and benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations provided through its website www.winndixie.com. The website must be accessible by individuals with disabilities who use computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones.
  3. No later than ________(date)_______, shall adopt and implement a Web Accessibility Policy which ensures that its website conforms with the WCAG 2.0 criteria.
  4. No later than __(date)__________, shall require any third party vendors who participate on its website to be fully accessible to the disabled by conforming with WCAG 2.0 criteria
  5. No later than __(date)__________, shall make publicly available and directly link from the www.winndixie.com homepage, a statement of WinnDixie’s Accessibility Policy to ensure the persons with disabilities have full and equal enjoyment of its website and shall accompany the public policy statement with an accessible means of submitting accessibility questions and problems.
  6. No later than __(date)__________, and at least once yearly thereafter, shall provide mandatory web accessibility training to all employees who write or develop programs or code for, or who publish final content to, www.winndixie.com on how to conform all web content and services with WCAG 2.0 criteria.
  7. No later than __(date)__________, and at least once every three months thereafter, shall conduct automated accessibility tests of its website to identify any instances where the website is no longer in conformance with WCAG 2.0.
  8. If the Plaintiff believes the Injunction has been violated, he shall give notice (including reasonable particulars) to the Defendant of such violation. The Defendant shall have 30 days from the notice to investigate and correct any alleged violations. If the Defendant fails to correct the violation, the Plaintiff may then seek relief from the Court.
  9. In light of what the Court has already found to be the Defendant’s sincere and serious intent to make its website accessible to all, this Injunction will expire in three years.

The Sunday Long Read is a Weekly Delight

I’m someone who enjoys long form journalism and there’s obviously quite the supply online. In fact, there is so much content at times that sifting through it all can be daunting.

 

One resource I’ve found that has consistently delivered an excellent selection of reading material is called The Sunday Long Read. The two individuals behind the weekly collection do a stellar job at finding interesting material to read.

 

Sign up on the web site and each Sunday you will receive an email with links to several articles to enjoy. It is that simple and I’m sharing it here because the weekly mail is one I have come to look forward to receiving and thought blog readers might as well.

Fun with Weather Underground

Blog readers will know that accessibility is one of my interests and I’m always particularly interested in ways to make larger data sets more accessible and consumable. Weather maps for example that allow those who can see to quickly get a sense of the temperatures throughout a region are rarely in my use very accessible when you are not able to see.

 

I’m also a fan of the do it yourself approach to problem solving when possible so started exploring one of my preferred weather sites, Weather Underground, to see what might be possible.

 

My basic goals were to try and see what might be possible to get a sense of the coldest and warmest places in a state or country and just the general range of temperatures. Weather Underground makes this delightfully easy with just some basic web address navigation.

 

The Basic View for a State in the US

 

Washington State is my current home and with a quick navigate to http://www.wunderground.com/US/WA/ I quickly get a table listing 45 cities in the state and the current temperatures and related details. Activate a temp button that is one of the table column headers and that list of cities goes from being sorted alphabetically to temperature. So I can quickly tell that as I write this, Bellingham, WA, at 45 °F is the warmest place in the state and Wenatchee, at 32 °F, is the coldest.

 

A quick web address edit to replace the “A” from “WA” for Washington with “I” for Wisconsin lands me at http://www.wunderground.com/US/WI/? Where I can easily say, “Wow it is cold back home,” in my home state of Wisconsin. The warmest place is all of 12 °F. And once again, a quick activate of the Temp button and I can sort by temperature to get a sense of the range of temperatures.

 

The National Picture

 

My simple address bar change of web address works great for a state-by-state exploration. But at times I’m curious about the big picture. More address bar magic yields results for an entire country. For example, browsing to http://www.wunderground.com/US/USa// brings up 500 different locations that are part of the US. Ignore the fact that the page title says this is for Wyoming and be aware this also includes territories such as Guam. You’ll have to have a bit of a sense of geography as the table lists just city names but it is a good way to get a sense of the temperature ranges for a country.

 

Some trial and error has shown me the URLs to use for a few other countries such as Mexico, the United Kingdom, Russia and Australia to name a few. Again use the Temp button to sort by temperature where I see that Australia has a range of 109 °F for the hottest location down to 40 °F for the coldest as of now.

 

For The Enterprising Software Developers

 

Situations like this lend themselves to loads of creativity for accessibility. I could imagine an app on any platform that uses touch and the accessibility infrastructure on that platform to use sound and more to turn my little table explorations of temperatures into a customer-engaging accessibility experience.

My Accessibility Journey with Quicken 2015

I spend a significant part of my professional and personal life working in the area of software accessibility. I’m pretty familiar with all the positives and negatives of various operating systems, strategies for accessibility on those environments and the various tricks and techniques one can sometimes try to work around challenges when they come up. Then too, unfortunately, there are times I’m reminded of the consequences when a solution does not exist.

 

I’ve been a long time user of Quicken for personal financial management. Entries in my current use of the program go back more than 15 years. And yet every three years or so there’s been this race I play against the current level of accessibility of whatever version of Quicken I’m forced to update to and my ability to resolve issues to the point of continuing to be able to use the program. If you want to use the automatic transaction download features of the software, most, if not all, financial institutions cut off support for older versions of Quicken at versions older than three years from the current year. Looking back through my software archives, I find copies of Quicken I purchased in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012 and most recently 2015.

 

It has been quite some time in my experience that Quicken has worked with ease for me and I suspect others who use screen reading software. But I’m pretty comfortable with all the advanced features of screen readers so have managed to keep things working throughout the years to the point that I felt the trouble in using the software was offset by the benefits. The automatic download of financial transactions, categorization, reporting and investment tracking all combined into a single app have made the program worth continuing to try to keep using for me. I know I can do much of this myself in programs such as Excel and I do some of this today. Still Quicken has, until now, been at the cornerstone of what I’ve used, even if more and more of my analysis and such has moved to Excel.

 

Earlier this year I knew the clock was ticking on the version of Quicken 2012 I had been using to support automatic transaction download. I took the plunge and purchased Quicken 2015 a few months ago. My luck with the program wasn’t good when I first tried to use it. But the deadline hadn’t quite hit for the older version to stop working so I kept trying different techniques without any luck.

 

But after several hours invested over the last few days really trying to make things work and the fact that automatic transaction downloads stopped working about 85 days ago for me, I’m now faced with the reality that my time with Quicken is about to come to an abrupt end. Manual transaction entry hasn’t worked right for several years with all of the screen readers I use which is why the automatic download has become so critical and most financial sites only allow 90 days of data download. To be clear this is only one of the challenges and for what I need to do not nearly enough of Quicken 2015 works right with the screen readers I use and I use pretty much all that exist.

 

In the grand scheme of challenges, I recognize whether I can use Quicken or not is not high on the list. I write about it here mostly I suspect as a bit of catharsis because at an emotional level there is some level of frustration when an environment you’ve been using stops working. And with so much of my time spent in the accessibility space, I have no illusions about some magic behind the curtain. I understand about development priorities from all the players involved. It is just not fun to be on the wrong side of where the line gets drawn and this still happens far too often when it comes to accessibility.

Take the Accessible Sports Survey From Terrill Thompson

Terrill Thompson, the driver behind an accessible NCAA basketball tournament bracket, is following that effort with what he bills as the “Accessible Sports Survey”. The survey asks for some basic info about the sports you enjoy, sources of sports information you use, number of sporting events you attend and some basic demographic info about any assistive technology and disabilities you want to share. Thompson indicates data from the survey will be used to help develop a business case to convince major online sporting outlets to improve accessibility. Take a few minutes and add your responses to the survey.

Appreciate Terrill Thompson’s Work on Accessible NCAA Brackets

Each March, college basketball fans are consumed by March Madness and filling out countless NCAA brackets. With my favorite Wisconsin Badgers having a number 1 seed in this year’s tournament, you can bet I want to get my bracket in.

 

I’m as much of a fan of accessibility as I am sports, so this time is always an interesting checkpoint to see how far accessibility has come or not when it comes to something as basic as completing one of these brackets. Each year I browse around to the various online offerings to join a bracket challenge and each year I’m largely disappointed. Rarely have any of the mainstream sports sites done anything to make either the basic bracket one can download as a PDF file or their contests where you create brackets accessible.

 

Back in 2012, I wrote about Yahoo’s iOS offering in this space. In three years from my first browse of the latest offering here, it seems we’ve made no progress in this app and have even gone in reverse as there are even more nameless buttons than when I wrote about the app three years ago. I first wrote about searching for an accessible bracket back in 2007.

 

The one mainstay of accessibility here has come from Terrill Thompson and his work on an accessible NCAA bracket. He’s been doing this for several years now and for me it is one of those items in web accessibility that I personally appreciate immensely. So a big thanks to Terrill for the continued work on this each year.

 

It would be nice if some year the main players in this space from the sports world actually addressed accessibility of their bracket experiences also. But I’m sure glad Terrill does what he does here and when his contest is open this year you can bet I’ll be submitting my bracket and looking for the Badgers to have a great tournament. So sports and accessibility fans, come join me and thank Terrill and join his contest when it is available and let’s have some March Madness fun.

Safeway Updates iOS Delivery App with VoiceOver Improvements

It is nice to see that Safeway has updated their iOS app for online shopping with an improved VoiceOver experience. I’m not a regular user of this app but as luck would have it, I happened to use it over the weekend before the update. So it was nice to read the description of what’s new for the 2.6 update saying, “Enhanced usability and performance for users of VoiceOver and other built-in iOS accessibility features.”

 

Browsing the virtual shopping isles and other product areas seems much improved. Each product is now a heading, meaning you can use VoiceOver’s navigation by heading feature to jump from product to product. I do wish the headings were put on the entries in the list where the price for the product was given as that would have made browsing even faster. As it stands now, you must move to the product heading and then back two objects to read the same product name that includes a price when using VoiceOver object by object navigation.

 

For example, when on a product listing page, you can set VoiceOver to heading navigation and step from product to product with swipes up or down. When on a product of interest, issue a swipe left gesture twice and you’ll be on the same product but will hear the price and other details. One swipe right and you are on a button for more information about the product. A second swipe right and you are back on the heading for that product. Subsequent swipes right put you on buttons for decreasing the number of a given product you want to buy, a text box for the same quantity info and another button for increasing the amount. One last swipe right and you are on an Add button for putting the product in your virtual shopping cart.

 

The process for selecting a delivery time also seems much improved when using VoiceOver. My recollection from my weekend use was that you had to use a complicated grid where it wasn’t very easy to identify available delivery times. Again I’m not a regular user of the app but had used it a few times before the weekend. With the update, selecting a delivery time has been separated into three different controls for choosing the day, time and number of hours in the delivery window. It seems much easier to navigate.

 

In experimenting with the app a bit, I also noticed more progress messages being read automatically by VoiceOver. This included hearing that item lists were downloading when I selected a given isle and such.

 

In general this seems like some good attention to making this app work better with VoiceOver was given. I’m sure I’ll use it more frequently now because of the ease of use improvements and because of major pricing changes coming to Amazon Fresh in the Seattle area.