10 Things you should know about Accessibility
Posted 17 February 2005 - 08:44 AM
As a bit of a teaser, they've posted a very good short presentation about why accessibility is a good idea
Hat tip Ian Lloyd at Accessify
Posted 17 February 2005 - 11:19 AM
Until you let somebody with a disability test a site you have no idea how bad your design is. If you sit the darkness and use a screen reader, you will never use a table again except to define the very basic structure.
Posted 17 February 2005 - 01:55 PM
Some feel that text-only versions make those who use them feel left out.
Lately, I've been noticing how similar a "print-friendly" page is to a text-only/mostly page. Complex formatting is often replaced by plain text plus pictures. Making a printer friendly version accessible may be easier than trying to cross too many bridges at once. Basic breadcrumbs could go on top, with a complete horizontal text-only nav structure at the bottom where a screen reader wouldn't have to repeat lines and lines as every page loads. Extended alt tags would be available at a click. A large print version could be included in one of the choices of style sheet. And I like the idea that lumping the two worlds together could bring awareness of accessibility to non- screen-reader users, while not putting screen reader users on an isolated island.
Just a few rough ideas
Posted 17 February 2005 - 03:06 PM
Accessible sites can look GOOD.
Why build 2 when one will do
Some style switching can be useful to in cases and have been implimented very nicely in some examples. Making text bigger, making the contrast between text and background greater, that kind of thing.
Shouldn't need to make any changes to alt text though. Alt text is alt text, best treated the same if you're trying to be accessible or not!
Posted 17 February 2005 - 04:21 PM
Shouldn't need to make any changes to alt text though. Alt text is alt text, best treated the same if you're trying to be accessible or not!
A sighted viewer would not need extended alt text, such as a description of an image of a family of foster children and siblings (what mood? how diverse, and how many people?) sitting down to a big dinner. A sighted viewer may get along fine with "foster family enjoys dinner."
And, perhaps I did not express myself well re the alternate version idea. I meant that it could be exactly the same text, with a different style sheet. One set of text, one set of updates to do, same set of content, be it presented with large yellow text on a navy ground, or whatever.
Posted 17 February 2005 - 04:28 PM
Posted 17 February 2005 - 06:31 PM
What to call this and how to use it was being debated when I was doing it in a past life. :oops:
Posted 17 February 2005 - 08:09 PM
accessible website checklist (Excel 33.5KB[/url] which is a quick guide to the accessibility guidelines.
The word doc is quite good, IMHO, and an expansion upon th W3C guidleines here: http://www.w3.org/TR...-checklist.html. Glad I found all that, and good stuff to read!
Posted 17 February 2005 - 08:14 PM
How many sites do that I wonder? Cre8 certainly doesn't, neither do Google, Yahoo or MSn for their search boxes. Interesting...
Until user agents handle empty controls correctly, include default, place-holding characters in edit boxes and text areas.
Posted 18 February 2005 - 05:19 AM
Your best bet may be offering to volunteer in an office or a computer lab. It'll take time to get to know people, but the need is great. Consider that of the people who have low vision or are blind and are lucky enough to be employed, over 70% are employed in large part because they have computer skills. Your skills may not make sense to them until you've immersed yourself into their world.
I would actually like to meet a person this affects, but I have never seen such a presentation anywhere near me, including at university.
Re sightless browsing, there used to be lightweight screenreaders or timed trials that could be downloaded for free. Look around for one. Install it. Turn off your monitor. Turn on the speakers. Close your eyes. You get keystrokes, auditory clues, memory. That's it. Now imagine trying to use a cookbook that's a book on tape. :shock:
A truly spiffy computer setup will have a tactile braille display between the regular keyboard and the user. Big bucks, very vulnerable to crumbs and dust. When the user is typing into a word processor, the last characters are transformed into braille by little rods that extend or retract, based on what dots of each braille cell are active. In this way it's possible to check what you've written without having to go back and listen to every last word.
It's an adventure.
Posted 18 February 2005 - 07:30 PM
I'm really enjoying your posts. Your passion for this stuff is just wonderful and I'm thrilled you're here sharing it.
Ok. Now on to what's rattling in my head...
I have to admit I've been up and down about accessibility. When Section 508 hit in the US for .gov sites, I had to take an interest because of where I worked, but I was ignored by managment, regardless of what any law or suggested law said. That was frustrating.
I don't put enough accessiblity emphasis on my own sites, which needs to change. I want to learn better how to use CSS to make accessible sites. So I do have some goals
Yesterday I read an article in the print version of Entrepreneur magazine. It was a write up about how making a site accessible benefits the end user. Wish I had it in front of my face, but the number of special needs users was over 50 million, and they may have been just talking about the USA. Apparently since the Internet makes shopping easier than driving somewhere, the ecom site that's designed for these folks, or the info site that's designed for them, gets the sale and the traffic. The article said word of mouth is a big thing and they're very loyal to sites that serve them well.
Having watched a seeing impaired person use a web site really taught me some valuable lessons. The one that stuck out with the woman I watched was how determined she was to get through the site, even when it wasn't built for her to be able to read. She was willing to hunch over her laptop and try and try until she figured out how to do something. I'm not sure how many people have her patience, nor do I think we should torture them because we're forgetting they, too, use our sites.
There has to be another user-friendly solution.
Posted 18 February 2005 - 07:46 PM
I tend to avoid them both anyway, but that's just me
And flash, well yeah, it's flash, lol. It's nice and all, but I much prefer it as an addition to a site to give it something extra, rather than a core aspect of it. So again you're back to creating a site that can be used even if Flash isn't availible. Really narks me when I click back and I don't jsut go back to the last screen I saw in Flash, but instead end up back at the search engine I entered the site from or something :roll:
I don't think you should see them as restrictions on accessibility, just sensible, careful design generally.
Want an example of accessible, good looking design that uses JS and Flash? Try having a look at none other than the Disney UK Store.
Now I look at it and think the text is a bit small, and really quite difficult to read in places. But there's a lot of thought gone into it. Have a look at the Accessibility statement and Andy Clarke's excellant explanation of what went on.
Posted 18 February 2005 - 07:58 PM
I like some of the Flash stuff I'm seeing too...where it doesn't take over the whole experience but adds a little jazz or eye candy.
Thanks for the links. I have more studing to do for sure
Posted 18 February 2005 - 08:10 PM
I can't recommend Andy Clarke's writing highly enough, really is excellent, whenever I spot a posting on his blog at stuffandnonsense, it always gets priority reading. One of those guys who's always got an intereting slant on things and very good arguement for why you should/shouldn't do something.
His write ups of work his company have done are great real world examples.
Posted 18 February 2005 - 10:42 PM
Right, there's a hesitancy to try something new after figuring out what works. Screen reader users are likely to use familiar older browsers and operating systems and turn off everything they don't use anyway. Including people with mobility problems a figure that's bandied about is that this is up to 20% of Internet users.
Apparently since the Internet makes shopping easier than driving somewhere, the ecom site that's designed for these folks, or the info site that's designed for them, gets the sale and the traffic. The article said word of mouth is a big thing and they're very loyal to sites that serve them well.
I know it's not a popular idea, but I think that often the visual imagination and the auditory imagination are too different to squeeze into the same space. Am I right in thinking it's the squeeze makes people in all camps squirm? From the perspective of people I've met, it's the expectance of lock-out that hurts most.
I have a feeling that by the time CSS formatting is easy as falling off a log and fully supported across the board, there will be a meeting of the ways between the needs of screen reader users, legal pressures, and the web design community at large. If you put it into text, you can put it into CSS formatting - kind of like the CMS concept. Not perfectly parallel, but no double updates of text, at least.
Posted 19 February 2005 - 12:16 AM
Project php - there are items here that will introduce you to another life without having to leave your computer.
View without stylesheet and notice how the navigation links are at the bottom, not the top. This is "writing for the web" a la auditory info. No long list of links to "scroll" through, listen to, or skip by before content - very considerate. They accomplished this by putting the nav divs below the main content on the source code. Screen readers read visual text from top to bottom of the coded page.
Also note how there's a good amount of descriptive text. Photos get family member's attention (heatproof glove for taking hardboiled eggs out of hot water? yeouch!) and there's a try at describing what's there for people relying on hearing alone.
Just reading about the items for sale gives birth to ideas, and maybe hope.
"How many times have you burned your hands or fingers on the hot oven rack while you`re cooking?" Yes! Tell me about your oven guard. Writing for the web all over again - concise text using solid words that motivate and instruct at once.
Problems that many of you could fix in a heartbeat
Some of links titles are not descriptive.
--"Title: Click for more info and larger image" is not enough auditory information.
--Besides which, have a heart. Can you imagine hearing "link click for more info and larger image" a dozen times on every page?
--A screen reader can identify links and say "link," so there's no reason to write "link" in the anchor title.
--I think that "Orka Oven Hot Water Mit - close up and more info" would be better, or maybe just "Orka Oven Hot Water Mit - more info."
--The alt tag for the glove is the same as the link. Missed opportunity. Instead, I'd do "gloved hand reaching safely into boiling water." Graphic and tactile, says what you see. Yeouch again!
But wait! Once you click on the "more info" link there isn't more info. Imagine you can't see the page. There may be a bigger picture, or there may be info you can't hear, or is the page buggy? Feeling a little let down? The link should have been named "close up of Orka Oven Hot Water Mit."
Some text is not as expressive.
I'd have liked the words "cushioned" added to the oven glove descriptions. And are they burnproof, should I bump a hot element? How should I wash them? What color are they? Maybe I have a blue kitchen, maybe I don't care, or maybe I am buying for my sighted daughter.
And would you know what a "mighty rug gripper" is if you were going on hearing their text description alone? They tell you what to do with it without describing what it is. (resisting temptation to joke about an ex boss) sigh...
This site is a case where auditory and visual can coexist quite nicely. It's not rocket science, fine art, or a ball and chain. It's customer service. :-)
Posted 19 February 2005 - 02:40 PM
When I look at sites like the one I reviewed I have a clear vision of where I'd like to be next - know enough about how all involved technology works to be able to help teach developers how to turn a near miss into something both compliant and exemplary, with more seo content to boot. Starting with the communications goal instead of the legal confusion gets the braincells into brainstorm mode. Companies (unlike Disney) without a huge vested interest in visual branding would be simplest, I think. Though...
I don't know how possible this is, but my ideal is that deep-pocket companies with a lot of visually oriented branding would develop downloadable plugins for Jaws or WindowEyes. CSS can influence auditory possibilities. Some of these companies already have rich auditory branding. Can you imagine having a Darth Vader or Yoda-like voice read their own description on a Star Wars site? The voice would still be monotone, but, dang, it'd be fun for the kids. This would use far less bandwidth than streaming audio - benefiting both the site and the listener.
Companies like Disney et al could develop downloadable plugins for JAWS or Window Eyes that add the capacity to use Mickey's voice to read text that describes a pair of snuggly flannel jammies in some detail. The visibility (unintentional pun) for screen reader companies would be a big change, and the public relations cache for Disney would be huge. Disney could do a lovely press release promoting the voice of the year, eventually adding a nice selection.
Paradox - the auditory enrichment would not extend to visually oriented viewers, unless they wanted to take on the $$$ to buy a screen reader. Maybe a plugin could be designed to work with Jaws, Window Eyes, and something that would read text within an OS or browser?
Posted 21 February 2005 - 12:12 AM
This is certainly an area that i am ready and willing to jump into with both feat, and will be dowing so very shortly
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