wd06: Derek Featherstone - Designing for accessibility
Being aware of verbosity settings in screen readers - it's the setting which controls how things like punctuation are handled. Some users will turn off brackets - ie. brackets aren't read out. With that setting enabled, page links may get missed - really it's a bug, but you have to be aware of it.
Best practice is to make links make sense out of context; but at the same time users know they can "go back one line" to find context.
Screen reader users often get much more information from their UA than sighted users - the status of links may be read out "this is a visited link, this is an unvisited link..."
"Back to top" links... do we really want to go back to the top? Or do we really want to go back to the start of the article we just read? Where exactly should the link take you? This is not just an accessibility issue, it's a usability issue as well. If you don't have a skip to content link, they have to listen through all of your header and navigation content...
Regarding skip to content and skip navigation links, Derek believes the browsers should be handling things like this.
Derek: "As a keyboard user, Opera is the best browser out there right now." Yay Opera! ;) It's very powerful and lets you jump between forms AND links; or through headings; or you can ensure the accesskeys don't clash with anything.
You know the way we only use about 10% of our brains? Well it's the same with our software - we only use about 10% of the functionality.
Russ Weakley: we found that source order didn't really matter so much to a lot of screen reader users.
Molly: what about other disabilities?
Derek: Did you see CSS Naked day? That day was hell for me! Nothing worked for me! I lost all my context. "I couldn't read blogs that day and that's my crack man!"
Molly: I do think that it's a concern; that we shouldn't be too quick to give a message that source order isn't important. For screen readers it's not so important...
Russ: One thing we did in that test was to label each content section - structural labels were really useful. [Helped context]
Derek: on source order... what about things like sidebars? Do they go at the end, or the start? We need to research this stuff because we don't know what we're doing.
Andrew Arch: Visual order... there are plenty of people out there who can get very confused if the visual order doesn't match the source order. Tabbing through content can suddenly get way out of order compared with the expectation set by the visual design.
Derek: we think we know it all but we need to do more actual research.
Andy Clarke: What do you think about microformats and using them to set up labels for content areas?
Derek: I like the idea, but how do we get everyone to adopt it and implement it?
John Allsopp has started a design pattern to explore this issue.
"I know we can do this... I'm getting goosebumps again!"
Example: a login screen example where the page gets modified based on input. Notifying the user is an issue because they've moved away from the relevant inputs; so you should update other things like the LEGEND, TITLE, or status bar.
Status bar - screen readers can access the information in the browser's status bar. How appropriate! Put status messages in there. Needs full testing and probably depends on screen reader settings as to whether it's read out or not. But you could also alert the user that they should check the status bar before they submit a form.