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. Read “Regaining focus” in its entirety
As 2013 quickly approaches I can’t help but wonder where 2012 went. Actually this past year was quite an eventful one. One not so focused on the computer — if you take the regularity in which I have blogged since June as indication. But for the purposes of this post, and its home on this blog, I’ll keep this relevant.
With the first half of this year fully involved with my volunteer gig at the Fluid Project, and building Fluid Studios specifically, I was pretty overwhelmed at times. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Or looking back on it now, it wasn’t. I learned a few valuable lessons. Most important of which was how lacking my CSS skill set was, and in some cases still is, in terms of thoroughness. And testing specifically. Namely with the dreaded IE — precisely with versions 6 to 8.
Anyway, as I said, it wasn’t all bad — albeit very frustrating at times (which comes with the territory). But I really can’t complain. I received a new appreciation and a renewed interest in CSS. I’m all in. With everything. And my approach, especially. It’s all about Object-oriented CSS and writing efficient code now. Gone are the days of writing a selector, then all the rules that apply to that single selector. Make your CSS work for you, not the other way around. (Do me a favour? Don’t look at the CSS for Fluid Studios. Thanks.) I’m still learning but I haven’t been this excited about poking out code in a long time. A really long time. Read “The efficiency of CSS interest” in its entirety
Not that long ago I wrote about my initial experiences with Assistive Technology. And even though those experiences happened quite some years ago and I’ve undergone a lot of healing and a number of behaviour alterations since, I still use a handful of alternative means to access a computer.
But by far the most important one I use, that makes the time I spend on a computer much more productive and enjoyable, is the manner in which I use a keyboard.
As my physical ability has progressively changed, my needs — in the sense the solutions I use — have not. Well that’s not entirely true. I no longer need switch access scanning or mouse keys, but I still heavily rely on the keyboard, and sticky keys especially, to interface a computer. I can use two hands to type, but that can be challenging (working in Photoshop is the exception) so I don’t typically use both hands. But in an effort to speed up my productivity I don’t so much require said solution, as I much prefer to use it.
Which gets to my point, my most productive use of time, in terms of my access, is the keyboard. Most of the solutions I currently use involve these 90 keys that lay before me. Read “Keyboard accessibility” in its entirety
… In a hospital room not all that far away, a young man laying excruciatingly still in a bed, awaited his shot at communicating with anyone outside the confines of his battered skull (being All Hallows Eve I couldn’t resist)…
But unlike most nightmarish Hallowe’en tales, I’m delighted to tell you (especially since that kid in that hospital bed was me), this one ended much better than it started out. Actually by January 1997, the time this story began, I was able to move my head slightly to the right by that point. And I could communicate. Again, through the blinking of my eyes. Once signifying yes. Twice for no.
Given this, in addition to my primary means of communication, being my blinking eyes, I was also using a translucent, textured plastic cutting board with black hand scribed letters (and numbers) on it as secondary communication aid. It was these characters, arranged vertically, in I’m guessing 5 or 6 columns — the letters were in order, from A to Z, A to E in the first column, F to J in the adjacent column, and so on, and the numbers from 0 to 9, if I’m not mistaken, resided in a single column on the far right of the board. So armed with that set up any person wishing to converse with me, and that conversation required more than a quick “yes” or “no” response from the likes of me, said individual would hold this “communication board” by it’s handle with one hand, and with the other hand, while pointing, skimmed (from
right to left left to right) along the top of the board, and pausing on each of the columns for a brief moment. Read “Not that long ago…” in its entirety
When I began this post my intentions were to relate my entire computing career — to give you a little background in where I’m coming from, why I’m so interested in web accessibility, and hopefully give you some insight as to why I believe it’s so important. But that quickly proved to be a much more involved task than I first thought. So plans have changed, if only slightly. I figure a few posts should be enough to cover what I’d originally hoped to write in this single article. Here’s number one…
I never really had much interest in computer’s growing up. My family, most fortunately, had one. An “old” “IBM clone” from my Father’s office, that we had one helluva time outfitting with a mouse. Do you even remember using a computer without a mouse? I barely do. That’s precisely why I recall, because of the effort and frustration we went through getting that mouse to work, which never really did work, in the end. But I digress.
I’d much prefer to avoid dwelling on my back story with computer’s. Honestly aside from a a rather hardcore 8 month stint playing Might & Magic as an awkward pre-teen, a sole grade 10 introduction into computer programming and “using” a computer to “poke out” (much like I still happen to “type”) essay’s in high-school, there isn’t much to tell. I wouldn’t dare bore you with what are sure to be rather inconsequential details of a relatively non-existent experience. I’d much rather concentrate, for you and me both, on the aspects that give me and this site its relevant context.
And with that said my interest started to change in 1996 — mostly because it had to. Read “The origins of interest” in its entirety