Chris Ashton

week11y issue 83

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

Coursera accessibility courses

Managing focus in the shadow DOM

  • Web developer Nolan Lawson writes about the difficulties of managing focus on a web page which makes use of the shadow DOM; parts of the page that are encapsulated and unable to be interacted with programmatically in the same way as regular DOM elements.
  • If you’re implementing a modal dialog, you need to manage focus and prevent the user from tabbing outside of the modal window whilst it’s active. This is easier said than done; a common implementation is to use querySelectorAll to find all interactive elements in the page, finding the first and last focusable elements within the modal, and then using a listener to hook into the tab key and overriding where it triggers the focus. But document.querySelectorAll won’t return any shadow DOM elements, so the browser could still allow you to tab into a shadow DOM area outside of the modal.
  • Nolan proposes a new API; element.getNextTabbableElement() and element.getPreviousTabbableElement(), delegating this heavy lifting to the browser. For now, we’re left manually traversing through the DOM and inspecting each element recursively to see if it has a shadow DOM child, to create our list of all interactive elements in the page.
  • My old team at the BBC also wrote about how they migrated away from iframes to the shadow DOM.

Coronation Street highlights the challenges faced by disabled people working from home during the pandemic

  • This story focuses on Izzy Armstrong, played by Cherylee Houston. The storyline goes that Izzy is clinically vulnerable and has been shielding and working from home throughout the pandemic. Her job is now at risk as her boss insists she returns to the office.
  • The actor Cherylee has in real life been shielding since March 2020, as when she was 23 she was diagnosed with a rare condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
  • This will be the first time viewers will see Izzy in her real-life home environment. The scenes were filmed by Cherylee and her partner at their Manchester home.
  • “Izzy Armstrong’s upcoming storyline on Coronation Street highlights the reality of many disabled people’s struggles across the UK.”

Why debate non-text contrast of UI elements?

  • An article by Dave House, describing how WCAG 2.1 Non-text contrast has enough wiggle-room in it that designers often dismiss it, saying “UI elements don’t need to meet this requirement”. He explains: the success criterion states “if the visual indicator of the control is the only way to identify the control, then that indicator must have sufficient contrast”. Therefore, for example, a “Submit” button whose background colour has low contrast is still recognisable with the background colour removed, provided it is in the context of a form, and thus doesn’t fail the criterion.
  • Dave suggests a simple test: for every interactive UI element with a contrast of less than 3:1, remove the thing that is low contrast (be it the text, the background colour, the border, etc). Then review the page and see if it still makes sense. The argument is hard to swallow when Dave uses the Facebook and Google landing pages as examples – if they can’t get it right, what chance do the rest of us have? – but it’s a good rule of thumb nonetheless, and a useful design tip to keep in your arsenal.

Blind York student wins £5k claim over ‘inaccessible’ loan form

  • Disability rights activist Holly Scott-Gardner, has won a settlement after being unable to fill in a student loan disabled students application form, because it was inaccessible to her (as someone who is blind). Holly had to fill in the form over the phone, after several failed attempts online, and successfully sued the company for a breach of the Equality Act 2010.
  • Holly wrote a long Twitter thread about her interaction with the company, pointing out that they offered to “work with” her on making their services accessible, but this a) isn’t her area of expertise to be a consultant on, and b) they weren’t offering to pay her for her time. The thread is full of great quotes:
    • “In what world is it acceptable to expect the person who has had their rights violated to come and educate you out of the goodness of their heart?”
    • “I am not a token minority. I do not exist as an educational tool for non-disabled people.”
    • “It’s frustrating that everyone seems to view disabled people as experts on every aspect of being disabled. I know I can’t access something, that doesn’t automatically mean I can fix it.”

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