Announcing the free WebVisum web accessibility Firefox extension

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Announcing the free WebVisum web accessibility Firefox extension

webvisum
Greetings.

WebVisum is a unique and free Firefox add on which greatly enhances
web accessibility and empowers the blind and visually impaired
community by putting the control in your hands! Its aim is to allow
you to better enjoy surfing the net and be significantly less
dependent upon outside help.

Just a few exciting features that we already offer:
* Community driven tagging and page enhancements.
* Automated and instant CAPTCHA image solving, sign up to web sites
and make posts and comments without asking for help!
* Built in helper functions for easier page navigation and less
confusion.
* Numerous under the hood page tweaks designed to help screen reader
users.
* Visually Impaired users benefit from features such as high contrast
page viewing, link and focus highlighting, and more.

We have an extensive list of exciting features and enhancements and
are planning to continue developing this product further to its
fullest potential. In order to accomplish these goals we need to reach
the entire blind and visually impaired Internet users community and we
need your help in spreading the word!

We rely on your feedback alone to improve on what we have done so far
and make WebVisum the ultimate accessibility helper for the web.  So
please do not hesitate to write to us through the contact form on the
site, any feedback, comment or question you may have.

Check out http://www.webvisum.com/ for instructions on how to start
using WebVisum right away.

The web has just become much more accessible!   Happy surfing.
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Re: Announcing the free WebVisum web accessibility Firefox extension

Steve Lee-3
2008/7/2  <[hidden email]>:

'Automated and instant CAPTCHA image solving, sign up to web sites
and make posts and comments without asking for help!

Wow that will excite the bot writers ;-)

Steve (sceptical)
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Re: Announcing the free WebVisum web accessibility Firefox extension

Mario Lang
"Steve Lee" <[hidden email]> writes:

> 2008/7/2  <[hidden email]>:
>
> 'Automated and instant CAPTCHA image solving, sign up to web sites
> and make posts and comments without asking for help!
>
> Wow that will excite the bot writers ;-)

Yes, I blinked at the above quoted paragraph as well.
While I didn't test this yet, I see it from a reversed perspective:
IMO, an automated CAPTCHA solver library would have been the first thing
that we should have released and maintained as soon as this
extra silly idea of CAPTCHA was born on the Internet in the first place.

I've been blocked out of certain sites since CAPTCHA was first
used too often now, it has cost me a lot of time, and not
only me, I also had to consume the valueable time of sighted coworkers
and friends to help me through the excluding CAPTCHA jungle.
And in some cases it was even worse, the idea of CAPTCHAs led
people like thomann.de to redesign their site so that all product
prices are now just displayed as images.  They officially
claim this is done to avoid automated price comparison.
In the end, it doesnt matter why they claim they do it, the
result is what matters, that a site that was perfectly usable before
is now mostly unusable.

A publicly available CAPTCHA solver would demonstrate to people
that CAPTCHA is broken per design.  In fact, best would
be a CAPTCHA-solving proxy so that it could be offered as a web service.
I was pissed enough by the move of thomann.de to write
a public proxy with a little bit of OCR that would rewrite their
site to some usable form again, but then I just decided
to stop making bussiness with them, instead of investing any further time.
This is OK, but still sucks since thomann.de was the best music
internet shop that I know in my area...

I despise CAPTCHAs, and every argument you might want to bring forward
in support of them, please save yourself the time and dont,
they are all very flawed.  CAPTCHA is the most problematic
thing since images without alt tags.

Anyway, I think that we shouldn't see CAPTCHA as a feature, as in,
oh, it help so much to defend ourselves from bots.  You should see
it as it is, oh, it helps so much to keep blind people away from us.

--
CYa,
  ⡍⠁⠗⠊⠕ | Debian Developer <URL:http://debian.org/>
  .''`. | Get my public key via finger mlang/[hidden email]
 : :' : | 1024D/7FC1A0854909BCCDBE6C102DDFFC022A6B113E44
 `. `'
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Re: Announcing the free WebVisum web accessibility Firefox extension

webvisum
In reply to this post by Steve Lee-3
Steve,
CAPTCHAs are annoying, imperfect and unfortunately a sad reality we
have to live with, at least for now.

While our extension (and server) does provide the capability of
solving CAPTCHAs for individuals, anyone trying to use us in an
automated manner will learn that they cannot do so quite as easily and
that they would be better of getting their own CAPTCHA solving
monkeys.   We've taken steps to detect and prevent any abuse from
occurring, automatically.

We share all of your concerns, we've thought it through and decided
that we can handle this safely and provide a great service to the
blind and visually impaired communities.

Mario,
Clearly the people operating the site you mentioned are lacking on
technical skills to implement some proper anti bot protection.
Showing prices in images is obviously not the right way to handle bots
scraping away freely at your site.     Unless the price images are
obfuscated like CAPTCHAs are -- which I doubt, they would be as easy
to scrape as plain text, with a decent OCR library, especially as they
need to be readable to humans.   My thinking is that these guys are
plain lame for doing it that way - send them to us and we'll teach
them how to do it right. :)

If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to ask here or
through the contact us form on the site.
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Re: Announcing the free WebVisum web accessibility Firefox extension

Eitan Isaacson-2
On Wed, 2008-07-02 at 07:07 -0700, [hidden email] wrote:
> they would be better of getting their own CAPTCHA solving
> monkeys.  

So is that how you do it? With monkeys? How are you solving the CAPTCHAs
on your end?

Cheers,
        Eitan.

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Re: Announcing the free WebVisum web accessibility Firefox extension

Steve Lee-3
In reply to this post by webvisum
I think the best service to us all would be to free the web of all
captchas, for ever :-)

I hate them, and I can can usually see them (I say usually because a
few have beaten me, perhaps due to age deterioration of sight). I
wonder how many sites just plonk them on coz other sites have them?

Without wanting starting a flame war which has little place here I
agree with Mario they are the biggest problem since missing alt
attrib, but worse as they break site for everyone.

IMHO they area misplace solution to the problem of spam bots. Filters
like bad behaviour seem a better placed solution.

Also IMHO if you put something  on the web is is public for all to
use, people and bots. RSS would be broke if this was not true (and so
will the semantic web). Obviously bad bots doing DoS is a problem that
needs a defence. (as with RSS being hit by bad readers).

So if your solver works reliable it's sounds interesting as perhaps an
inevitable step as I guess all turning tests will eventually be
cracked by technology. so how do you do it?


--
Steve Lee
--
Open Source Assistive Technology Software
web: fullmeasure.co.uk
blog: eduspaces.net/stevelee/weblog
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Re: Announcing the free WebVisum web accessibility Firefox extension

Tom Brunet
In reply to this post by webvisum
I apologize, but I need to put my skeptic hat on for a moment.  I took a
look at the website, and I'm still left with an unanswered question, and
maybe I just missed it, but who are you?  Maybe it's just me, but I
become a little suspicious when anonymous people ask me to install
something on my machine.

Perhaps you can introduce yourself and/or your company and provide us
with some background information?
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Re: Announcing the free WebVisum web accessibility Firefox extension

webvisum
Thomas,
We'll post who we are in the very near future.  This is not an excuse,
but we had to concentrate more on the extension and server powering it
than on the site and so it's even lacking a proper how to document
right now.   Our resources are for now limited.

WebVisum being a Firefox extension, is open by nature, it is written
in readable Javascript.  We urge you to review the source and send any
bugs our way!

Steve,
CAPTCHAs are evil, no doubt about that.   You've brought up a great
topic though, the missing alt tag! We solve that too - though a
community effort.  Everyone can give the right tag to any link, image,
or other important page elements such as form fields.   Once a tag has
been set, anyone using the extension and going to the same site and
page will automatically have this tag as well, they can make
corrections to the tag, add more tags, etc.   You're encouraged to
check out what we do for yourself.
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Re: Announcing the free WebVisum web accessibility Firefox extension

Aaron Leventhal-3
> You've brought up a great
> topic though, the missing alt tag! We solve that too - though a
> community effort.  Everyone can give the right tag to any link, image,
> or other important page elements such as form fields.   Once a tag has
> been set, anyone using the extension and going to the same site and
> page will automatically have this tag as well, they can make
> corrections to the tag, add more tags, etc.

That's interesting. What if the image is inside a link. Will it look at
the title of the page being pointed to and use that?

- Aaron
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Re: Announcing the free WebVisum web accessibility Firefox extension

webvisum
On Jul 2, 4:25 pm, Aaron Leventhal <[hidden email]> wrote:

> > You've brought up a great
> > topic though, the missing alt tag! We solve that too - though a
> > community effort.  Everyone can give the right tag to any link, image,
> > or other important page elements such as form fields.   Once a tag has
> > been set, anyone using the extension and going to the same site and
> > page will automatically have this tag as well, they can make
> > corrections to the tag, add more tags, etc.
>
> That's interesting. What if the image is inside a link. Will it look at
> the title of the page being pointed to and use that?
>
> - Aaron

Hi Aaron,

If you mean that the extension would look at the title of the page a
link points to then no, it would not.  However, we can do that but I'm
not sure it would produce a great result though as many pages have non
descriptive titles.

What we do instead is have the user follow the link, even if he does
not know what page it points to, then, either by the page title or by
the page content the user figures out the purpose of the page, he then
hits a hotkey and labels the link that he followed to get to the new
page. ("Label last visited link" CTRL+7 by default), it's a comfort
feature -- the user does not have to go back, find the link again and
label it.    As soon as he's done with the page and labeled it (he can
also set a new page title for it, by the way) he goes back to the
previous page and finds the link labeled, he can continue with the
rest of the links.

We will soon write a proper how to clarifying this and explaining
about each and every feature and how to potentially use it, in detail.

Best,
Richard
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Re: Announcing the free WebVisum web accessibility Firefox extension

Aaron Leventhal-3
How about letting the user query for the title pointed to without
visiting the whole page? If the title is good, they can use another
command to assign it as the alt text and everyone benefits.

- Aaron

[hidden email] wrote:

> On Jul 2, 4:25 pm, Aaron Leventhal<[hidden email]>  wrote:
>>> You've brought up a great
>>> topic though, the missing alt tag! We solve that too - though a
>>> community effort.  Everyone can give the right tag to any link, image,
>>> or other important page elements such as form fields.   Once a tag has
>>> been set, anyone using the extension and going to the same site and
>>> page will automatically have this tag as well, they can make
>>> corrections to the tag, add more tags, etc.
>> That's interesting. What if the image is inside a link. Will it look at
>> the title of the page being pointed to and use that?
>>
>> - Aaron
>
> Hi Aaron,
>
> If you mean that the extension would look at the title of the page a
> link points to then no, it would not.  However, we can do that but I'm
> not sure it would produce a great result though as many pages have non
> descriptive titles.
>
> What we do instead is have the user follow the link, even if he does
> not know what page it points to, then, either by the page title or by
> the page content the user figures out the purpose of the page, he then
> hits a hotkey and labels the link that he followed to get to the new
> page. ("Label last visited link" CTRL+7 by default), it's a comfort
> feature -- the user does not have to go back, find the link again and
> label it.    As soon as he's done with the page and labeled it (he can
> also set a new page title for it, by the way) he goes back to the
> previous page and finds the link labeled, he can continue with the
> rest of the links.
>
> We will soon write a proper how to clarifying this and explaining
> about each and every feature and how to potentially use it, in detail.
>
> Best,
> Richard

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Re: Announcing the free WebVisum web accessibility Firefox extension

webvisum
Love your suggestions so far Aaron.  We'll implement them in one way
or the other.

For anyone who cares, in the next few hours we'll be posting an FAQ, a
privacy policy derived from wikipedia's privacy policy, an about us
page as well as a testimonials page listing some of the reviews we
already got.

Thanks,
Richard
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