Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 6: web access.

How accessible are websites to you? What can developers do to make their sites more accessible?

Let me just start out by saying that accessibility is completely relative! It might be accessible to me, but inaccessible to someone who's only been using a screen reader for a few months, I've been using them since about 2000, and I use multiple screen readers and web browsers, just in case one setup doesn't get the job done.
I think I can answer the first part of the question by saying that I consider most websites to be fairly accessible. That doesn't mean that I won't have problems here and there, (elements that won't open with a simulated mouse click, for instance.) There's also the occasional captcha image that still doesn't have an audio captcha attached to it, (which is very strange, because if you're implementing a captcha now without using re-captcha, well... just stop using captcha... OK?
I have to say that I prefer the web-based way of navigation, and I'm not a huge fan of using what's called "application mode," which makes the site look more like a desktop application. Personally I don't like to use it, so I might even be getting the name wrong. Application mode is part of a standard called "ARIA," which stands for "accessible rich internet applications." It's just a long name for well... giving developers permission to make pretty sites, and still make them accessible. I don't like it, because it gets in the way. Those fancy looking menus that Facebook uses? That's an example of ARIA, and I absolutely hate those things, (don't get me wrong, I hate Facebook for other reasons.)
As for the second part of the question, "what can developers do to make websites more accessible?" Well, never implement drag-and-drop of any kind! Or at least don't do it without some sort of setting, so that there's always a way to use the manual form. It took me 2 years to find an RSs reader that doesn't use drag-and-drop for adding feeds to folders. Besides that, I subscribe to the theory of universal design. If it's optimized for a mobile device, it will most likely work for a screen reader, (but you have to keep in mind that there are people using all kinds of mobile devices, yeah... even feature phones!) Also, don't worry if it doesn't validate 100%! I know there are liberals who are going to freak out about this! I'm a blind person, and I'm saying don't meet the standards. Use the standards for what they are, (guidelines,) but don't freak out if your site isn't perfect. I usually say that if I can navigate a site, it's probably fine. You should however make sure your RSS feed validates, because if it doesn't, some feed readers won't fetch it.

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