Chris Ashton

fortnight11y issue 9

fortnight11y is a newsletter released every two weeks, dedicated to all things accessibility and curated by developer @ChrisBAshton. Each resource is summarised as a TLDR, in case you don’t have time to read the actual article. Readers are encouraged to read the linked articles and form their own conclusions.

‘Show Me a Sign’ recounts the deaf experience for young readers

  • MV Times article from last December, describing Ann Clare Le Zotte‘s new novel “Show me a Sign”, which is now available online. It is set in early 19th century Chilmark, Massachusetts – a town famous for its unusually high percentage of deaf citizens (one in 25 people, vs one in 6000 on the mainland). Everyone could communicate with one another, deaf or not, through Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language (MVSL). It sounds like an exciting read, centered around a scientist that uses Mary as a “live specimen” in a cruel experiment, tribal/colonial tensions of the time, and an insight into how Mary lives without sound.

Why the GOV.UK Design System team changed the input type for numbers

  • Article by Hanna Laakso, explaining why GOV.UK has moved away from using <input type="number"> for things like credit card / passport numbers. It has big issues in NVDA and Dragon Naturally Speaking, and its native increment/decrement behaviour (triggered by UP/DOWN arrow keys or scrolling) is often unintended. Some browsers also attempt to round the number or add comma separation. GOV.UK now uses <input type="text" inputmode="numeric" pattern="[0-9]*">, which retains the numeric keyboard without compromising usability.

7 users share their struggles navigating the (sometimes inaccessible) digital world

  • Real users with disabilities sum up their biggest struggles with the digital world. Robert (who has a visual impairment) struggles with date inputs where websites don’t let you enter the date manually, forcing him to navigate an often inaccessible calendar. Rhian, who is autistic, shares her frustration with auto-playing videos and poor website load speeds. Sally, who has a mobility impairment, says that increasing font sizes is hard in apps, and that zooming causes its own problems. Kasia needs someone’s assistance when online shopping, as they don’t feel comfortable sharing their bank details on inaccessible sites where it is difficult to know if they’re filling it in correctly. Several complain about CAPTCHA forms that force you to prove you’re not a robot.

Could browsers fix more accessibility problems automatically?

  • Whilst web developers/designers have a duty to make their website accessible, many simply don’t – be it through lack of awareness, skills, resources or empathy. Hidde de Vries proposes that browsers bridge the gap by providing ways of forcing colour contrasts, focus states, text sizes, disabling autoplay and allowing zoom, even if a developer has explicitly disabled such features. Some browsers do some (but not all) of this already, and what does exist is not easily discoverable.

Stop Using ‘Drop-down’

  • Article by Adrian Roselli, asking people to stop using ‘dropdown’ in their vocabulary, as it is ambiguous. Do you actually mean a ‘select’ element, or an ARIA listbox, datalist, ARIA combobox, or autocomplete (or several other possibilities)? Adrian describes the subtle differences in each, and doesn’t preach about the use of ‘select’ (which you may have expected from the title).

Thisten

  • An interesting site/app: “we transcribe conferences, to make them accessible.” It is an audio-to-text platform that transcribes speaker sessions at conferences, in real-time. Designed to be used whether at small gatherings or at large conferences.

Online Altruists Are Making Reddit More Accessible

  • Fascinating article about the r/TranscribersOfReddit community that has over 3,000 volunteers who have transcribed almost 100,000 pieces of content on Reddit. A bot links to all image/video related content that gets posted to any partnered subreddits, and transcribers then ‘claim’ the post by commenting underneath, before manually providing a detailed transcription for that content. Everyone has a different motivation for doing it; it’s worth a read to find out more. You may remember a similar story about Facebook groups dedicated to transcribing.

HTML: The Inaccessible Parts

  • Article by Dave Rupert, sharing his frustration and highlighting some cases where native HTML is not as accessible as it ought to be. Inputs of types number, date and search are considered problematic, as are native HTML <video>, role="tablist" for tabs and various HTML5 tags. Dave links off to articles explaining the issues with each in more detail. This is kind of a glossary and is worth a bookmark for referencing.

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