Chris Ashton

fortnight11y issue 17

Here’s your fortnightly a11y news:

Enhancing ARIA landmarks with aria-labelledby

  • Article by Léonie Watson describing how to use aria-labelledby to distinguish between multiple navigational elements. Example: <nav role="navigation" aria-labelledby="firstLabel"><p>Choose an <span id="firstLabel">aisle</span> to browse</p><ul><li><a href="fresh.html">Fresh foods</a></li>...</ul>.

How Does HTML Microdata Help With Accessibility?

  • Scott Vinkle explains how pages marked up with microdata helps the ‘Reader Mode’ in browsers to find and arrange content. For example, <img src="source.jpg" alt="" itemprop="image" /> determines the image that will be displayed in Reader Mode. Reader Mode is a useful feature for many, especially for people with dyslexia, as it removes distractions such as navigation, animations and ads.

#accessiBe Will Get You Sued

  • Adrian Roselli writes about accessiBe, a company (whose article I’ve shared before) that offers an add-on for sites to automatically make them ‘accessible’. Adrian presents a scathing review of their practices, including that they incorrectly interpret WCAG, are cited in accessibility lawsuits and attempt to spoof automated checkers.

The Latest Barbie Dreamhouse Now Includes A Wheelchair-Accessible Elevator

  • Mattel, the manufacturer behind the Barbie brand, started producing Barbies with wheelchairs in February 2019. They’ve now released a ‘Dreamhouse’ dollhouse that has a button-operated lift, big enough to accommodate the wheelchair. It’s a great step forward in seeing a full range of diversity from a young age.

An app for everything, but can everyone use it?

  • Anne Spencer Ross tested almost 9000 apps and found that a quarter were missing labels for >90% of their icons. ‘Floating action buttons’, representing the most important action on the screen, lacked labels in 92% of cases. The tools used to build apps can greatly affect their accessibility: 100% of screen elements coming from Unity and 53% of screen elements from Cocos2dx were completely unusable. And Education apps made up 7% of apps overall but 19% of completely unusable apps.

A Complete Guide to Links and Buttons

  • An excellent resource by CSS-Tricks. I learned that the download attribute on links instructs the browser to download the resource; that links can have a rel attribute that define the relationship to the target (e.g. rel="author"); that you can chain link styles (a:focus:hover {}); and that if you wrap a lot of content inside a single <a> tag, the entire contents are read to the screen reader before it announces that it is a link (so don’t do it!).

Meaning without markup: Accessibility Object Model

  • Hidde de Vries writes about the Accessibility Object Model proposal for JavaScript, which allows devs to hook into the accessibility tree (like Service Workers are able to hook into the network). It should make code easier to test, and HTML less verbose, since you would operate on the element directly, e.g. el.ariaExpanded = true. This can make canvas-based applications more accessible too, without having to maintain DOM node equivalents that are only for your screen reader users.

iOS 14 is filled with accessibility improvements

Blindness cure in sight

  • Macular degeneration is a common eye disease affecting 200 million people worldwide. It can lead to complete blindness. Scientists are working on a new treatment utilising gene therapy and near-infrared light. Early tests on human retinas show that ‘near-infrared light exposures reactivate the human retina’s visual circuitry’.

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