Chris Ashton

week11y issue 104

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https://buttonbuddy.dev/

A useful micro website by Stephanie Eckles. It explains the requirements for accessible contrast on buttons, and includes a generator for creating buttons of sufficient contrast.

You have the option of using a colour picker, or switching to “Use text input” mode to put in the CSS hex codes that you intend to use. The generator will then tell you whether or not the button has sufficient contrast, factoring in whether or not the button will be used with ‘large text’ (which is subject to different contrast requirements, detailed on the website).

The world’s most accessible websites

This is a study by ToolTester.com, but take its findings with a big pinch of salt.

The study looks at “the 200 most popular websites in the world”. This list of sites was allegedly “collected from data by Similarweb”, but comparing the study data with the top websites on similarweb.com, a lot of moderation has evidently taken place: the study omits adult websites, non-English websites, and (inexplicably) Reddit.

asos.com is deemed the ‘least accessible’ site, with the “percentage of site inaccessible” graded as 21.38%. This story has been covered by the Mirror and also covered by ChargedRetail.co.uk, which is what brought my attention to the study in the first place. Both news sources implied that the 21% figure applies to the whole website – the Mirror even headlines ‘1 in 5 pages blocked’ – but according to the ToolTester methodology (at the end of the study), only the homepage was tested.

ToolTester used ‘Arc Toolkit’ – a Chrome extension – to perform automated tests across these sites. It doesn’t look as though any manual testing was performed. For these reasons, I really think this study is lacking in detail and substance, but it’s an interesting data point nonetheless.

ASOS performed poorly due to errors including poor colour contrast, missing ARIA and missing labels. Instagram came second in inaccessibility, lots of user generated content with no alt text causing the bulk of issues, but there are other more easily fixable issues, including a lack of alt text on the login page and a lack of ARIA labels on play buttons. Facebook also makes the bottom 10 list.

Government websites NIH.gov, CDC.gov and GOV.UK fared best, with LinkedIn, H&M, PayPal and Amazon not far behind. All of these websites had more than 99% of their ‘site’ (read: homepage) considered accessible.

Amazing haptic speaker lets visually impaired people read braille in midair

ATM with additional big black pad hardware attached to it. A person's hand is hovering above the pad, their fingertips above a separate portion at the top of it, where the braille sensory happens.
Copyright: Viktorija Paneva. Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com

This is not a new article, but has been in my bookmarks since May 2020. Researchers at Bayreuth University in Germany have developed a speaker system which emits ultrasound waves that allow people to read braille in mid-air. The research is particularly pertinent during this coronavirus pandemic, where avoiding touching public surfaces is generally a good thing!

The technology is made up of a 16×16 grid of speakers, and can detect a hand up to a distance of 70cm.

You can read the full academic study, “HaptiRead: Reading Braille as Mid-Air Haptic Information“.

Don’t make users switch caps letters to lowercase

A quick tip by Stas Melnikov: add autocapitalize="off" attribute to your text input to have mobile browsers open a lowercase keyboard (as opposed to an all-caps keyboard). This is well suited to login forms which ask for the user’s email address.

Accessibility of Content Management Systems – what’s stopping us?

Back in October 2020, I wrote about how W3C decided not to use WordPress because it was considered inaccessible. They opted for the proprietary Craft CMS instead, as “the Craft team had made the commitment for Craft v4 to comply with ATAG AA standards“. At the time, this spawned a bit of an internet war, pitting ‘accessibility’ against ‘open source’.

In today’s article (also available as a video, 26m), Marie Manandise reflects on her role at Studio 24, the agency tasked with redesigning the W3C site. Marie’s job was to choose the right CMS.

Marie talks of “the accessibility paradox”, where CMS providers all claim to “care very much about accessibility”, even when none of them are considered accessible. She suggests that we take for granted how difficult accessibility is to get right, and what resources are needed.

For example, to properly test that website navigation is accessible to a non-sighted user, Marie says you need to do paired testing: a sighted and non-sighted user sitting side by side, in front of a screen. And that you need to test in the same manner every time you update your website.

CMS developers “don’t have the knowledge to make the assessment” as to whether or not their CMS is accessible. “Most of us are clueless at accessibility”. Accessibility groups embedded in CMS vendor organisations tend to be “operating in the margins”. Marie says that accessibility experts have an image problem, and don’t carry the “aura of security experts, for example”.

So what can we do about it? Echoing Eric Eggert’s points the other day, the answer is to simplify the learning material / specifications, and to ensure that accessibility is on the curriculum at courses and bootcamps.


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