Accessibility at AOL is about extending the power of the internet to all users. In addition to addressing product compatibility with assistive technologies such as screen-reader software, alternative keyboard devices and voice-recognition products, AOL strives to introduce features to enhance the value of the internet to people with disabilities.
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The AOL Accessibility Policy expresses the company's commitment to develop products and services that are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. The policy is founded on three fundamental principles:
Awareness: It is essential for employees to be informed about the challenges faced by people with disabilities in accessing the internet and the technologies available to improve the user experience. This information fosters the ability to address accessibility throughout the product development life cycle. The following practices are used to heighten employee awareness of accessibility issues:
- Provide employees access to widely used assistive technology software used by people with disabilities to access the internet for use during product development.
- To stress the importance of integrating accessibility into product design, we introduce the disability audience to employees by developing programs that include things such as hosting presentations by technology experts or individuals with disabilities and hosting presentations by technology experts
Responsibility: Solutions developed to accommodate a broad range of user needs translate into a richer online experience for all users. AOL maintains a dedicated accessibility team whose job responsibilities include:
- Providing support to product groups during all stages of the design and delivery of products and services.
- Participation in external initiatives involving industry, government, consumers and accessibility researchers to help advance adoption of best practices and techniques necessary to make web and software applications accessible. Defining product accessibility requirements.
- Monitoring AOL's application of this accessibility policy to its products and services.
- Employees with principal responsibility for the development of products and services consider and address on a regular basis issues relating to disability accessibility.
Collaboration: Feedback from the disability community is a critical component of our accessibility efforts. AOL engages the disability community through the following practices:
- Use of consultants who are disabled to routinely test products with assistive technology software and to guide the implementation of necessary improvements. Maintain a dedicated email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to receive input on accessibility issues.
- Support and participate in national and international disability-focused initiatives.
- Cultivate relationships with developers of assistive technology software, which is essential to evolve product compatibility.
For more information and feedback on AOL’s accessibility efforts, email email@example.com or visit bill.aol.com/SPortal/jsp/contact_us.jsp for additional contact information.
AOL has a long-standing commitment to address the technological needs of people with disabilities. In keeping with its company-wide accessibility policy, AOL continues to collaborate with industry and disability groups to deliver innovative features, product solutions and best practices that bring the power of the internet to everyone.
As part of our effort to deliver products with the added value of accessibility, we’ve developed the following:
- Lifestream – Lifestream is a simple and efficient feature that lets you keep track of all your comments on your favorite networking sites. With Lifestream you can access all social networks with one interface for multiple networks. Lifestream is integrated with AIM 7.3 and AIM for Mac. Using Lifestream, you can view all updates made by you and your friends on AIM, Facebook, Twitter and more, all at one place. You can publish your status, broadcast it to your AIM buddies and even reply to comments on networking sites from your Lifestream tab. For more details, please visit lifestream.aim.com/help.
- Facebook Chat with AIM – AIM’s compatibility with the JAWS screen-reader software allows the blind to easily chat with their friends on Facebook. Don’t have an AIM account? Don’t worry! Download AIM and log in with your Facebook username and password. To learn more, visit our online help article Set up Facebook Chat for AIM.
-- If you’d like to learn more about AIM with JAWS please visit our online help article AIM 7 and accessibility option.
-- For more information about AIM, listen to the demo (20 minutes in): www.freedomscientific.com/FSCast/episodes/fscast040-march2010.asp.
- AOL Webmail – AOL Webmail offers an accessible webmail and calendar interface. This product includes the essential techniques known to make web navigation with screen-reader software more efficient. It also offers a comprehensive set of keyboard shortcuts that mirror those found in popular email client applications. The keyboard shortcuts are surfaced through a menu at the top of the page. Log into your AOL account at mail.aol.com and select the Basic Version or Accessible Version link at the bottom of the page. If you’d like to learn more, check out our online help article All about AOL WebMail.
- AIM with JAWS – AIM 7 is compatible with assistive technology software including JAWS screen reader (versions 10, 11 and 12), Zoom Text 9.1 from AI Squared and Dragon Naturally Speaking 9.0 from Nuance. AIM also honors Windows operating system accessibility setting for high contrast. For more information about AIM’s accessibility options, check out our online help article AIM 7 and accessibility option.
- Real-Time IM – Developed with guidance from Gallaudet University and the Trace Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Real-Time IM allows AIM users to watch instant-message conversations unfold one character at a time. This provides a deaf user with a more natural-flowing text conversation, similar to conventional phone conversations. Users can access Real-Time IM by clicking Menu and then Real-Time IM on the Instant Message screen or by highlighting a buddy on their BuddyList and pressing Ctrl + R on their keyboards. RTI is available in the latest release of the AIM software built for the Windows operating system. To learn more, please read our online help article Real-Time IM.
- AIM Relay – AIM Relay Service allows individuals who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or who have a speech disability to place and receive conventional telephone calls in the U.S. via instant messaging. Users can connect to telecommunication relay service providers by adding the providers' Username to their AOL or AIM Buddy List feature. AIM Relay Services can be accessed from any computer or wireless device running the AOL service or AIM client (available for free download). Please contact your relay service provider for their AIM Relay Username.
- AIM for Mac and Voiceover – Users of Voiceover, the built-in screen-reader application for Mac, can now access AOL Instant Messenger. Voiceover automatically reads incoming messages. This AIM software is free and available for download at aim.com. For more information about AIM for Mac and Voiceover, visit our online help article AIM for Mac FAQs.
For more information and feedback on AOL’s Accessibility efforts, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.