Chris Ashton

week11y issue 63

Your weekly frequent11y newsletter, brought to you by @ChrisBAshton:

Prototype comparing multiple inputs with one input, for credit card number. Multi-input option does not natively allow copy & paste.

Form design: multiple inputs versus one input

  • Blog post by Adam Silver, explaining why splitting inputs can be problematic. A technique often used for credit card numbers and bank sort-codes, I’ve often found such forms quite slick, but hadn’t considered some of their accessibility downsides:
    • Multiple inputs mean users can’t easily paste information in, unless JavaScript has been written to allow it (which may not be obvious to the user).
    • It can be difficult to correct mistakes if the form auto-focuses the next input in the sequence.
    • Each input is difficult to label meaningfully. The label is often hidden from sighted users, if provided at all, and makes for a noisy screen reader experience.
  • Instead, Adam encourages us to allow free-form text and to be forgiving of extra spaces and dashes in inputs. The exception is dates, where multiple inputs should be used, to clarify which portion of the date is the month and which is the day (as this varies around the world).

Glove translates sign language in real-time – ’99 percent recognition rate’

  • A Daily Express article from last summer. Bioengineers at the University of California have developed a glove that can translate sign language into speech in real-time, using an accompanying smartphone app.
  • The glove has thin sensors running to the fingertips, which can detect motions. The smartphone app uses a custom machine learning algorithm to convert the gestures into letters, numbers and words, and can recognise 660 signs. It translates at a speed of one word per second, with an accuracy rate of 98.63%.
  • The glove has its critics. Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf researcher at University College London, says: “there is nothing wrong with [sign language as a] form of communication” and that the technology is “redundant”, due to deaf signers already making extensive use of text-to-speech software.
Screenshot of survey question: "Which do you prefer?", with a choice of two fonts.
Screenshot from The Readability Group’s survey

The Readability Group – Survey

  • The Readability Group is a collection of experts in design and accessibility. Their mission is to “optimise typographic accessibility by providing expert advice based on data, not anecdote”. Essentially, they want to gather real user feedback on the readability of typography.
  • Please take around twenty minutes of time to contribute to the “Readability survey”, which has been nearly 2 years in development!

Infinite Scroll: What Is It Good For?

  • Article exploring the pros and cons of infinite scroll. The pros were simply “seamless mobile scrolling” and “serendipitous browsing”. The cons were numerous:
    • Could contribute to social media addiction.
    • Might make sidebars and other content inaccessible to assistive technology users.
    • Makes footers impossible to reach.
    • Causes users to lose their place (especially when hitting the ‘Back’ button).
    • Slows down users who have specific goals (e.g. wanting to jump to a letter midway through the alphabet).
  • Tips to improve infinite scroll implementations:
    • Don’t place content below the infinite scroll.
    • Code in some logic to allow ‘Back’ interactions to keep their place.
    • Let user skip to particular numbers/letters.
    • Ensure it works for keyboard users.

Accessibility auditing and ego

  • A very popular article among a11y newsletters at the moment. Eric Bailey reminds us that WCAG is a standard, that sets “objective criteria for what is and is not accessible”. In other words, you might hate the design of a website, but it might conform to all WCAG criteria. Don’t creatively reinterpret what a Service Criterion says to fit your agenda.
  • As a designer, you can appeal to a product’s usability, giving subjective feedback grounded in objective origins. But in an auditing context, you have to kill your ego and only point out failures that map to WCAG rules.
  • Eric says you should think like a lawyer: every call you make might have to be defended in a court of law [it’s worth noting that this article is written from an American point of view]. That is to say, “stay in your lane”, by sticking to established, legally accepted parameters, i.e. WCAG.

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