Chris Ashton

week11y issue 14

week11y is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things accessibility, 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.

But first, an announcement: Government Digital Service is hiring a Head of Accessibility to be a “thought leader and champion of accessible and inclusive services”. Applications close on 25th February 2020 at midnight.


Memes Are Still Inaccessible to the Blind

  • Time article sharing the impact of memes being unreadable to the blind. Accessibility is often about providing the bare essentials – making the workplace or transportation accessible – whereas leisure or silly activities are overlooked. The result is a lack of inclusivity, with many unable to join in the conversation. Researchers are experimenting with using AI to identify memes via templates, and rendering these memes in less deadpan ways than your typical screen reader. For instance, “success kid” would have the beginning of the meme, then upbeat dance music speeding up to a triumphant finish.

The Universal Page

  • An article about the history of braille, and its early competitors (Boston Line Type). By the 1860s there were a number of competing standards – leading to the “War of the Dots” in 1909, where braille was the standard of choice for the New York Board of Education for its blind schools. Other attempts at enabling blind access to books is the optophone; a scanner that looks at text and converts it into tones representing the shapes of the letters. In theory, mastering the optophone enables the reading of any book; in practice, it’s incredibly difficult to interpret. It’s well worth seeing it in practice.

When to Open Links in a New Tab

  • A short article by Jens Oliver Meiert, with one simple summary: “Always open links in the same tab unless doing so 1) could disrupt a process, 2) could risk data loss, or 3) could confuse the user.” He gives examples of opening PDFs (which should be opened in a new tab, after warning the user), as they are in a non-native environment. He also cites Jakob’s Law: “users spend most of their time on other sites; they prefer your site to work the same way as the sites they already know.” Opening external links in new tabs to increase likelihood of ‘conversion’ is misguided advice and provides a poor UX.

Money in my account, but still can’t pay: Winner of ‘best accessible website’

  • Nidhi Goyal‘s website, Rising Flame, won India’s “Best Accessible Website 2019” award. This article by The Indian Express doesn’t talk about the site (though I highly recommend visiting it and trying its accessibility features) – instead, it talks about how Goyal’s success still does not allow her to fully participate in society. Goyal, who is blind, may have money but she can’t use certain payment platforms to pay for things as they provide a broken screen reader experience. She flies long distance as part of her work, but is unable to use a call bell on flights because they’re on touch screen panels. Goyal says the reason the world lacks universal design is that people don’t yet see the disabled as customers or decision-makers.

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