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Surely all websites are accessible for disabled people?
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Surely all websites are accessible for disabled people?

Surely all websites are accessible for disabled people?

A level-playing field

One of the most brilliant aspects of the Web is the idea of a level playing field. Having a physical disability can often can make everyday tasks like going shopping more difficult, although it is often the environment itself that is the biggest problem. However, the Web is seen as the great leveller, now everyone can access goods and services equally, as long as they have internet access, right?

Or is it?

I wish! If you want to have some idea of what it is realy like, ask a disabled person to share their screen with you as they visit a website. It is only when you see and hear it for yourself that you might get an idea.

Findings from a recent audit

I was in a feedback session with one of our clients recently, after we had conducted an audit of their website. I had already sent my findings on in advance and they had a few days to review them and watch the videos of my fab Testing Team (Mede, Iona and Sara) as they used their website, with varying degrees of success.

My Team have disabilities that mean they need to use assistive technology. Mede is blind and uses a screen reader (software that “reads out” the website page and allows her to navigate though it using different keys in her keyboard). Ion can see but cannot use a mouse or keyboard without pain and prefers to use Dictation Software instead. Sara can use a keyboard and a mouse but is affected by white screens and popups. However they are all very experienced at working with websites and finding ways of getting around the obstacles, where possible.

A date picker

Sometimes those obstacles can seem to be rather large, however! Let us think of something as simple as entering a date. To make everyone’s life easier, we have a nice date picker. Large and easy to read. All you have to do is click on the date with a mouse and your chosen date suddenly appears as if by magic! What could be easier?

Well……

Try using a date picker with a screen reader. Imagine having to wait patiently as each date in the month is read out to you through your computer screen, one at a time, before you can select it?

Try using a date picker with voice dictation? If it has been poorly coded, you will have to say the word “Tab” wait for the next date to be highlighted , say “Tab” again, wait for the next date to be highlighted and so on.

What if there was an easier way?

Alternatively you could just provide a simple field with slashes in it, allowing anyone to type or speak the numbers that make up that date!

I understand why date pickers are often used, after all they look quite nice compared with an empty text field but when you have a choice between function and form, which is more important? If people who did not use screen readers or voice dictation had to literally wait a minute or two before they could selected the date they wanted, how long would date pickers last then?

Keep it simple, everyone benefits.

Clive Loseby

Access by Design

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