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.
During the latter part of this past week, I performed an accessibility “audit” for an organization I’ve done this type of work for in the past and unfortunately haven’t done much for in recent months. It feels good to be at it again.
And the web developer’s work I was evaluating was missing one of the most basic concepts of accessible web design. They removed the focus indicator from their links. I thought I’d share how I got around this potential show stopper with a little browser feature I’ve had to use possibly a couple other times for situations not quite as serious as this proved to be, but I think this will be worth the effort.
But before I drone on, it seems this needs to be said at least one more time. You really should avoid removing the focus indicator from web sites. Now I understand why one would do it. In some browsers the outline shows when you click on a link and that complicates certain aesthetic goals. And there are ways around this (largely).
But, as the link above demonstrates, this isn’t a new concern. This is merely me taking my sweet ass time at getting to a point. Which isn’t my main point, bear with me, I’ll get there. Revisiting practices that have since passed “pressing” relevancy can sometimes help your current processes. Take my “audit” this past week as a perfect example.
In my last post, The frustrations of VoiceOver, I alluded to “actively using Git/ Github in my workflow to my advantage” in the process of building a WordPress theme, bA53. And I’m still on it. But I’d very much like to flesh out a few idea’s concerning how I use Git towards my web development efforts.
What is Git? While one couldn’t be blamed for thinking I’m referring to the British noun “git” — and no, I’ve never heard of it either prior to tripping over it on Google — which apparently means an “unpleasant or contemptible person,” I’m not.
Rather Git, I’m speaking about the software now, “is a distributed revision control and source code management (SCM) system with an emphasis on speed.” I’ve mentioned my use of Git previously, as far back as my first post on this blog, in fact.
But I’ll save you from the pain of having me actually explain something I (still) barely understand, so I’ll simply recommend watching these 4 video’s that do a far better job of explaining Git than I could ever do. And it’s done.
First off, the title of this post is obviously link bait. I don’t seriously believe this to be a real “issue.” But if you’ve not read my last post, it might be worth reading for some context, I’ve found an answer as to why I was having issues using VoiceOver. And I thought I’d share.
What I didn’t divulge last post was I was primarily trying to use VoiceOver with my work. Again, as I alluded in my previous post, I’m talking about VoiceOver on OSX. For sometime I’ve been very casually building what I refer to as “an orderly, semantic mark-up centric, un-styled and accessible WordPress starter theme” — for which, as of this writing, it’s technically none of the above. But I’ve named it bA53.
My goals with this personal project are many. But most importantly I’m using this opportunity to push myself to learn about a few different aspects of web development, specifically. Web Accessibility Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA), how Screen Readers actually interact with what I build and actively using Git/ Github in my workflow to my advantage — I’m the master of the tiny commits and the much too frequent push’s.
So for quite some time now, much longer than is even remotely justifiable in fact, I’ve been having my share of difficulty both with using and understanding how to use Screen Reader Technology. Or more to the point, I just don’t get how this particular technology is usable to Blind and Low-Vision users.
Just to be crystal clear, I’m not knocking the technology or anyone who uses it, I’m only speaking towards my experience with it. And since my experience is limited, take this for what it’s worth, which isn’t a hellva lot.
Using said technology is an almost maddening endeavour each and every time I try to use it. I cannot wrap my head around making personal, productive use of it — and when I refer to “it,” in the interests of full disclosure, since I design and develop on a Mac, I mean VoiceOver.