Chris Ashton

fortnight11y issue 16

Here’s your fortnightly a11y news:

Legacy Applications and Accessibility

  • A blog post describing approaches to finding accessibility issues in legacy code; for example, scanning the codebase for positive tab index values (tabindex="1" etc). An interesting idea is an ‘accessibility JavaScript file’ that you can include on pages to help fix a11y issues without having to modify the legacy code. For example, var contButton = document.getElementById('continue'); if (contButton) { contButton.setAttribute('role', 'button'); // etc }.

Modesto Teen Who’s Legally Blind, Hearing Impaired Becomes Household Name In World Of Bowling

  • Jacob Gaddam is a sixteen year old who bowls like a champion – despite being legally blind and hearing impaired. Watch the video on YouTube (I had trouble getting any video content in the article itself).

My Accessibility-Tinged WWDC 2020 Wishlist

  • The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference is running from June 22-26 this year. Steven Aquino shares his hopes for what Apple will showcase, including the ability to zoom in on emoji; brightness slider for the Apple Watch display; and a Magic Keyboard with Touch Bar.

For Mothers Of Black Children With Disabilities, Living With Twice The Fear

  • Kim Kaiser voices the fears she has for her black, autistic 14 year old son. “When an African American person is disabled and can’t process a police command, [the result could be fatal]”. She’s taught her son to to keep his hands out of his pockets, to not carry anything that could be perceived as a weapon, and to put his hands up if approached by police. If questioned by police, he is to immediately inform them that he is on the autism spectrum. The sad reality is that his characteristics “automatically look suspicious to first responders”.

Volunteer scheme that tackles loneliness amongst young disabled people thrives online during pandemic

  • The Sense Buddying scheme matches volunteers and young people with disabilities to spend time together to help combat loneliness, something experienced by 77% of this demographic. Prior to the pandemic, matches did activities in local communities in East London, but now video-chat instead. One testimonial from Saihan Islam reads: “Maria is someone that I can talk to outside of my family which is really nice when I am feeling anxious. She is always really kind and helpful”. You can volunteer by emailing

The troubled state of screen readers in multilingual situations

  • Xurxe Toivo García shares their findings when testing different screen reader / browser / OS combinations with a simple English web page featuring a <span> with a different lang to the main page. All were inconsistent and none worked perfectly. On VoiceOver for desktop, paragraph text would be read with a Finnish voice (wrong) during continuous reading, and with an English voice (right) when using the keyboard to move the reading pointer. VoiceOver mobile ignored any language declarations.

How Web Accessibility Works

  • Segun Ola gives a brief but useful overview of how browsers generate an Accessibility Object Model (AOM) in addition to the DOM/CSSOM, and how this AOM interfaces between the browser and the assistive technology used by the user. He distinguishes between native primitives (e.g. checkbox) and more complicated widgets (such as autocomplete) which require ARIA markup.

How Eastenders’ Ben Mitchell is setting new standards for deaf representation

  • Eastenders‘ Ben Mitchell character was deaf in one ear but has now lost hearing in his other after a dramatic boating accident, and has to learn how to adapt. Interesting stats: 12 million people in the UK are deaf or live with hearing loss. Every day, 5 children are born deaf, and another 5 will become deaf by adulthood. Only 1 in 10 deaf children use sign language (most children considered ‘deaf’ do have access to some sound), and most attend a local school rather than a deaf school.

Inheritance Tax: The Real Cost of not Making Content Accessible

  • Simon Mellins, Ebook Technology Coordinator at Penguin, writes a condensed version of a talk he gave at the London Book Fair, where he described the accessibility case for creating good tags, metadata and logically structuring e-books. Here, he concentrates more on the legacy it leaves; the semantic richness that enables the curation and adoption of content into hitherto unknown reading systems. Simon argues that failing to add these features now is merely delaying the cost to a later date.
If overriding focus styles, use *:focus { outline: 3px solid transparent } to support Windows High Contrast Mode

Quick Tips for High Contrast Mode

  • Sarah Higley shares some tips for supporting Windows High Contrast Mode (WHCM). WHCM ignores ARIA roles/states/properties, so <a role="button"> will be styled as a link. Use svg { fill: currentColor } to have it match the color of the surrounding text. Beware that the -ms-high-contrast media query is being retired in favour of forced-colors, which is still experimental; current advice is to avoid using media queries at all.

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