Category: design

Fun Web Accessibility Videos

Follow Harold in his quest to make an accessible website for his company Jiffy Brothers! This is an entertaining two-part video series about a fictional company and its website. It’s produced by The Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) of Ontario, Canada. Watch out for Boris!

Part 1 “Auditing Your Website for Accessibility”

Part 2 “Developing an Accessible Website”

You can find more information and videos from HRPA on the HRPA YouTube channel.

A11Y Roundup, Summer 2013

Here are some great links from this past summer. Enjoy!

About Carousels and ARIA Tabs

Jared Smith (@jared_w_smith) of WebAIM recently launched a clever web page on why carousels are not good practice called Should I Use A Carousel? (which totally went viral on its launch day!) There is a slide deck Keyboard and Interaction Accessibility Techniques (on Slideshare) for which this website was made. I was fortunate enough to see Jared present this at Open Web Camp 5 July 13 at PayPal.

Jared presenting at OWC5

I don’t think that a carousel itself is super terrible. But in my experience, carousels are hardly ever coded with accessibility in mind and hardly ever designed with decent usability. In addition, supporting smaller devices is an issue and coupled with the poor usability data, carousels are overall a bad idea. If you absolutely must implement a carousel, here are some design/interaction tips:

  • Let the user start the carousel animation.
  • Give the user the ability to pause the carousel.
  • Ensure the controls have textual labels.
  • Ensure the control of the currently displayed panel is indicated visually and programmatically.
  • Ensure the controls have ample hit areas (for mobile, fine motor disability).

On the development side, a carousel can be challenging to make screen reader accessible. It seems that the most straight forward approach is to use the ARIA tab model which is pretty straight forward and fun to do! Here’s a summary of what to do in the markup:

  • Each carousel content container has a role of tabpanel.
  • Each control, typical designed as dots, has a role of tab.
  • The container of the controls/tabs has a role of  tablist.
  • Add aria-labelledby to the tabpanels which point to the id of the associated control/tab.
  • To each control/tab, add aria-controls (which points to the id of the associated tabpanel) and aria-selected (boolean) attributes.

Here are some code resources to help make sense of this. This first by Marco may be most relevant:

More:

Keep the Underline

Being a web accessibility advocate and practitioner is certainly frustrating at times. Especially when important, foundational best practices get ignored because “the cool kids are doing it”. This was the muse for writing this tweet (for which I was happily surprised to see numerous retweets!):

Just because some big, popular companies make poor design decisions regarding accessibility, doesn’t mean you/your company has to.

You want an accessible, usable website? Then please don’t remove the underline on text links, particularly in the main content. Unfortunately this design trend continues on the web (and the same could be said about those awful form input labels that act like placeholders, ugh).

Why? For accessibility, users with color blindness or low vision may have trouble distinguishing links from regular text when the underline is missing. Also remember situational disability; links with no underline are usually more difficult to determine when using a poor monitor or when using a computer in a brightly lit environment.

And for usability, it’s just easier to see the links and easier to scan them when they have underlines.

Personally, I’m getting a little older now and my sight’s color recognition is fading a bit. I really don’t like squinting and fighting to find the dark blue links within black text. Don’t make me think!

Some designs have bolded text links instead of underlining in order to differentiate the links from regular text. In my opinion, this give a less professional appearance, and still ignores the core convention of underlined text links.

It’s acceptable to remove underlines on text links when other visual cues replaces the underline, such as:

  • Text links in visually explicit navigation bars, dropdown menus, etc.
  • Text links designed to look like buttons.

Resources

Here are several resources about this issue:

Examples

The following websites have underlined text links in the main content:

Summary

Please don’t remove underlines on text links in main content. Leaving them as intended is better for accessibility, usability, and maintains the core conventions of the web.

Addendum

Check out this follow-up news article on dot net which adds an important point:

the motivation for retaining underlines is “just as much for people with cognitive or literacy issues”

Podcast #97: Responsive Design and Accessibility

Dennis speaks with George Zamfir on his background, his activity in Toronto, and how Responsive Web Design (RWD) can benefit web accessibility. The conversation stems from George’s talk Responsive Web Design & Accessibility from the Accessibility Camp Toronto last fall. A notable quote from the 50-minute conversation:

Let go of fixed widths

George is a web accessibility consultant for Good W-ALLY (@good_wally) in Toronto, Canada. He and @Jennison co-host the Toronto Accessibility & Inclusive Design meetup.

As techniques for usability and accessibility have some cross-over, so do RWD and accessibility. Case in point, this recent article on Mashable, 6 Easy Ways to Make Your Website Tablet-Friendly. The main points of George’s presentation are that responsive web design:

  • is like a user’s custom stylesheet
  • adheres to web standards
  • thinks mobile first & uses progressive enhancement (PE)
  • caters to users’ needs

Download Web Axe Episode 97 (Responsive Design and Accessibility)

[transcript of podcast 97]

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