Category: mobile

Accessibility Jobs, Sept 2014

Vestibular Issues in Parallax Design

Over the last year or so, a design trend in the web and mobile world has been transition animations, parallax effects, and the like. For many users, this can cause vestibular issues; the symptom is usually vertigo, or a feeling of motion sickness.

The issue was not well recognized until iOS 7 was released and overwhelmed users with an excessive amount of visual effects, especially parallax. Numerous articles were written about this issue, including iOS 7 and motion sickness by iMore. In a poll displayed on that article, about 28% of users reported having either mild or serious motion sickness with iOS7; this is not a formal study but still makes quite a statement. And at the time of writing, there are 100 comments on the article!

Pro tip! To reduce the parallax effect in iOS 7, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion.

Pros and Cons

study by Purdue University found that “although parallax scrolling enhanced certain aspects of the user experience, it did not necessarily improve the overall user experience”. Let’s take a look of pros and cons of parallax design.

Pros:

  1. May possibly increase user engagement.

Cons:

  1. Makes many users sick.
  2. Requires additional code which makes web pages more complex longer to load.
  3. Does not function smoothly across all browsers.
  4. Difficult to implement with responsive and mobile design.
  5. Can make it difficult or frustrating for the user to consume content due to excessive scrolling.

Recommendation

There are obviously many more negative points for using parallax design as there are positive. My recommendations are:

  • Use parallax effects (and animations) with much discretion and tolerance, if at all.
  • Ensure complete browser testing on desktop as well as mobile devices.

Related Articles

Related Tweets

Accessibility Summit Quick Review

The Accessibility Summit, an online conference on accessibility, took place earlier this week. The event is presented by the good folks at Environments for Humans (@e4h). The event was one day in the past few years but was extended to two days this year! If you attended or not, take a look at the great information in the Twitter stream using the hash tag #a11ySummit.

Web Axe author Dennis Lembree spoke on usability and accessibility CSS gotchas. He will give a similar talk this fall at Accessing Higher Ground and CSS Developer Conference.

slide projected on wall
The sentence slide by Matt May.

Here are several great presentations which were given at the Accessibility Summit:

TalkBack & Magnification Accessibility in Android 4.3+ by Paul Adam (@PaulJAdam).

Keyboard and Interaction Accessibility Techniques (Slideshare) by Jared Smith (@jared_w_smith).

CHANGE is not a four-letter word (PDF) by Kimberly Blessing (@obiwanKimberly).

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]

More reading

Sponsor

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Accessibility at Google IO 2011

So I attended the first day of Google I/O 2011, my first time at a Google event. I was glad to hear a fair amount of talk about accessibility. There were at least 3 sessions focusing on the topic (see below) and a breakout area where you can talk with developers.

There was even an accessibility “Developer Sandbox” area which was great. I tried out the ChromeVox screen reader on a Chromebook with help from Google’s Rachel Shearer. I got a quick demo of the built-in TalkBack screen reader on an Android mobile device. Mika Pyyhkala and I were shown the LevelStar braille device running Android. The University of Washington showed off their mobile ASL Android project which used video chat technology.

Some tips for Android development from the sessions are:

  • In Android code, ensure images, especially ImageButtons, are labeled with contentDescription.
  • Use standard controls.
  • Stick with standard or modified views; custom very complex to make accessible.
  • Ensure all controls reachable with D-pad and Trackball.
  • Test with screen reader using D-Pad. To turn on, enable accessibility under Settings/Accessibility, then enable Talkback.
  • Take advantage of device’s “many eyes and ears” for alternative input/output (microphone, speaker, touch screen, camera, GPS)

The sessions specific to accessibility were:

More resources:


Tim Credo, Charles Chen, and T.V. Raman on stage at Google I/O.