Category: yahoo

Learning How to Test with Screen Readers

Although accessibility checklists are important, testing for web accessibility requires more than that. Some testing requires tasks which can only be done by a human including testing with a screen reader. It’s best for a regular screen reader user to do the testing, but it’s also good for a developer or designer to do at least the basics (there was a big discussion on this last fall in Should Sighted Developers Use Screenreaders To Test Accessibility?).

Here are some good articles to help learn how to use a screen reader to test for web accessibility:

More from comments:

Podcast #73: Bandwidth & Download Time

Dennis and Ross provide nearly an hour of news, knowledge, and fun!

Download Web Axe Episode 73 (Bandwidth & Download Time)

Michigan and Web Dudes, Lab, and Accessible Twitter

Web Accessibility News

Main Segment

The Issue & Statistics
  • Web accessibility is about providing content for everyone; even if the user is unable to have access to a broadband internet connection.
  • Economic issue; many people simply can’t afford broadband.
  • Mobile–light and fast web sites can be more easily viewed on you phone!
  • Average Web Page Size Triples Since 2003 (study from 2003-2008 data)
  • In the U.S. in March 2008, users connecting at 56Kbps or less now make up 11.18% of active Internet users.
  • CWA Communications reported that the “median real-time download speed in the U.S. is a mere 2.3 megabits per second (mbps). The best available estimates show average download speeds in Japan of 63 mbps, in South Korea of 49 mbps and in France of 17 mbps.

Growth of Average Web Page Size and Number of Objects

Chart shows that from January 1995 to January 2008, there was a tremendous growth of average page size and average number of objects. The average page file size went from 14.1k in 1995, to 93.7k in 2003, to over 312k in 2008. The average number of page objects went from 2.3k in 1995, to 25.7 in 2003, to nearly 50 in 2008.

Related WCAG Guidelines

WCAG 2.0 Principle 4: Robust

Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

WCAG 1.0 Intro states:

user may have a text-only screen, a small screen, or a slow Internet connection and users may have turned off support for images (e.g. due to a slow Internet connection)

Greatly outdated web portion of Section 508 doesn’t mention internet connection speed.

What You Can Do
  • Use progressive enhancement.
  • Optimize images; use sprites.
  • Write clean code.
  • Use external CSS and JavaScript files. For CSS, use not @import.
  • Combine multiple CSS files into one. Same for JavaScript.
  • Use media domains.
  • Minify CSS and JS files.
  • Setup your server to send pages and files compressed.
  • Cache dynamic data and Ajax when appropriate.
More from the Big Boys

Visit to Yahoo! Accessibility Testing Lab

I was fortunate enough to get invited for a visit to Yahoo! Accessibility Testing Lab (in Sunnyvale, California). Victor Tsaran (@vick08) and Alan Brightman (@abrightman) were kind enough to spend about an hour and a half with me and several other computer professionals. Here are some notes from the meeting:

  • Learned a lot about Mac’s accessibility features. You can find them under under System Preferences/System/Universal Settings. Apparently they’ve been present since 1985, but most people don’t know they exist.
  • Apple computers come with a screen reader VoiceOver, which is now on the iPhone. On the Mac, it displays the text which it’s speaking; a great for blind person to work with a deaf person.
  • The demo of alternative input devices and software (including switch devices, head tracking, and an alternative keyboard) really creates awareness of others’ needs.
  • Saw a demo of a braille output device. It was noted that this type of device is best for the deaf-blind. They are very expensive, and more popular in Europe as there tends to be more subsidy.
  • Issues and features with mobile devices including screen magnifiers, speaking menus, camera-scanner-reader combo.
  • Some excellent links:

Victor, Rob and Alan in the lab