Creating an Internet that doesn’t discriminate against people with disabilities

Written by Ted Drake

While visiting South Korea for the International Conference on Digital Culture, Victor Tsaran was interviewed by Maeil Business Newspaper, the leading business newspaper in South Korea. He discussed the impact Yahoo! Accessibility is having on Yahoo! products and the future of accessible web applications. The article, 장애인 차별없는 인터넷 만들겠다, also highlights Proloque2Go and VizWiz as accessible mobile applications.

You can learn more with this English translation of the article:

[Interview] Creating an Internet that doesn’t discriminate against people with disabilities – Victor Tsaran, Yahoo! Senior Accessibility Program Manager

By Hwang, Ji-Hye, Maeil Business Newspaper

“In our lab in Sunnyvale, both developers and designers experience the Internet without using their hands or with their eyes covered. What matters is not the technology but the experience itself,” said, Victor Tsaran, Senior Manager at Yahoo! Inclusive Design Team, who oversees Web Accessibility policy at Yahoo!

Web Accessibility was created to ensure that the vulnerable members of society, including people with disabilities and the elderly, have access to information on the Internet and understand it like other users, without facing discrimination.

Tsaran stressed, “The technology is already available; however, the issue has not been well addressed, since developers cannot understand the actual user experience. This applies in all areas-technology, service development as well as marketing.”

He continued, “People with disabilities who have used the Internet always appreciate the Internet, saying that their outlook towards the world has changed completely.”

Since Tsaran himself is visually impaired, he is able to put his ideas into practice. He started using a computer for the first time in 1994 when he went to a school for the blind, which was a life-changing experience for him. With the computer, he realized that he could do many things, including reading a textbook, without having to rely on sighted friends’ help.

Since joining Yahoo! in 2005, he has played a proactive and vital role in evangelizing web accessibility. In particular, he has contributed to actively expanding the application of Screen Reader, a screen reading software, to more services of Yahoo! The name of the research lab where Tsaran works was previously ‘Yahoo! Accessibility Lab,’ but it was changed to ‘Yahoo! Inclusive Design Team’ recently to redefine the concept of accessibility. This indicates that Yahoo! intends to make web accessibility inherent in all activities.

He feels badly about the weak web accessibility in Korea today. The Korea Disability Discrimination Act, which was enacted in 2009, stipulates Web accessibility obligations, stating that every website in Korea, except for personal websites, should comply with web accessibility standards by 2015 for people with disabilities. However, except for central administrative agencies, the web accessibility regulation has not been followed properly.

He explained, “In the U.S., the 21st Century Video Accessibility Act was passed recently. Although The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 established the concept of accessibility, now there is a growing need for a new regulation, as information is increasingly available on the Internet.”

With this in mind, apps for people with disabilities are being developed actively in the U.S. For example, Proloquo2Go allows communication between speech-impaired people through iOS platform devices. In addition, there is VizWiz application that allows blind users to send images through a camera and receive quick answers to their questions by combing automatic image processing, anonymous web workers, and members of the user’s social network.

Although he is not able to see, Tsaran is opening a new world with his passion for music. “Web accessibility for music faces a big problem. I would like to lend my support to enhance accessibility.”