I’ve spent some time over the past few months thinking about how I craft the content I publish for the web. Specifically regarding my use of language when writing. In one certain context — not to suggest my writing is free from more problems in others — it’s not as inclusive as it should be.
I’m referring to how a screen reader user experiences the words I write. And with my limited use of the technology, I’ve taken note of something quite specific. If you use a screen reader to speak my words, I’m not sure you, as a listener, will get all of the “subtleties” (case in point) of my intent.
Using the example I cited immediately above, precisely how is a screen reader user supposed to know I’ve put the word “subtleties” in quotation marks? Just typing quotation marks before and after the word isn’t enough to make a screen reader speak them.
Yesterday I had an interaction I seem to have much too often to pass on not writing about any longer. An interaction a certain brand of folk who are convinced they know what I need and want more than I do. Almost like I cannot possess the capacity to help myself? The notion that I don’t, for whatever reason, have my best interests at heart is completely lost on these types.
But yesterday was a bit different than the many other times this sort of bullshit has happened, and I want to be careful. What happened strays heavily into the territory of faith and God. But I’d rather avoid conflating what happened with my thoughts toward either. Those who know me, know what I think on the matter. Those who don’t, just trust me, it’s not relevant to this conversation.
The interaction started when a curious party started asking a friend who I was talking with rather probing questions about me and my disability. Now said party isn’t a stranger to me, by any means. However, this person has never thought too far past themselves to engage me on matters pertaining to me. Especially considering the fact this person felt the need to go around me to get what they wanted — information. Even if it meant not treating me like a thinking, feeling human being. It’d seem little else mattered.
An interested party left a comment on a post I wrote back in November of last year, called The frustrations of VoiceOver. The commenter wondered if the situation I described in said post was the same for VoiceOver in Safari on iOS (meaning on both the iPhone and iPad). Problem being, I had a one helluva time testing the “bug” with VoiceOver on iOS.
Long, and somewhat uninteresting (for the scope of this piece, at least), story short, I was able to clear the biggest impediment I had toward testing this quirk in iOS yesterday. How do I even turn VoiceOver on to test? It, as in iOS, will not recognize my double taps when it asks for confirmation for turning VoiceOver on. “Is this really what you want to do? iOS’s gestures change when VoiceOver is turned on” (I’m quoting from memory, it’s more than likely that isn’t what it says). So I put a call out on Twitter asking how I might overcome this.
Although the solution isn’t all the intuitive to discover on one’s own, that doesn’t necessarily make any solution any less liberating or powerful.
When I wrote Regaining focus I figured, from my past experience using user defined style sheets, things would be as straight forward as I remembered them being. Why isn’t anything as simple as the utility demands? And for the record, I know relying on memory alone is largely a sloppy move to make. And I hope to correct myself with this post today.
But I didn’t fully realize my error until I went to write up the README for a Github repository I wrote for a solution for such a problem. Using the bit of code I provided in my post I linked to above, I wrote a style sheet (FOCUS.css) that would provide a user the same experience in the same browser from one site to another.
The problem being the ways to implement user defined focus styles vary quite a bit from browser to browser. From easy to complicated.
Earlier this week Aaron Gustafson turned me onto an accessibility feature in Google+. In your “Settings” Goggle+ gives you the option to turn on “Accessibility,” to “change the presentation of some pages to work better with screen readers and other assistive tools.”
A noble goal towards inclusivity. But one thing unfortunately sticks out for me, why is this even an option? And an option a user must opt into?
Turns out the reason wasn’t as misguided as I first thought. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still totally counterproductive — accommodating what they’ve already implemented to meet a goal that would be better served if Google strove for this goal up front? 1 But, I guess, effort is being made to provide people the support they might need to better their experience. My “complaint” should be taken with a grain of salt. It could be worse. But at the same time, it it should be much better.