Tags: accessibility

Why Implementing Swipe Gestures Causes A Mobile Accessibility Issue

Jennison Asuncion outlines the problem with relying on a swipe gesture for interactions.

I would say that this could be expanded to just about any interaction: it’s always dangerous to rely on one specific gesture. It’s always better to either provide multiple ways of accomplishing a task, or to simply take a declarative approach, get out of the way, and let the user agent handle it.

Five Goofy Things Medium Did That Break Accessibility — Medium Engineering

Some mea culpas from a developer at Medium. They share so that we may learn.

Aural UI of HTML elements

This is such an incredibly useful resource by Steve and Léonie: documenting how multiple screen readers handle each and every element in HTML.

It’s a work in progress, but it’s definitely one to remember the next time you’re thinking “I wonder how screen readers treat this markup…”

Accessibility Wins, curated by Marcy Sutton

Marcy has created a Tumblr to highlight websites that are taking the right approach to accessibility.

London Accessibility Meetup #1 - London Accessibility Meetup

The inaugural London accessibility meet-up is happening on October 28th with two great presenters: Robin Christopherson and Julie Howell—that’s right; she’s coming out of retirement for one last talk!

Responsive Field Day

All the videos from the excellent Responsive Field Day are now available. Even better, the audio is also available for your huffduffing pleasure!

All the presentations and panels were great. Sophie Shepherd’s terrific talk has really stuck with me.

Where to Put Your Search Role by Adrian Roselli

This is a very handy tip. I had been putting form role="search" all over The Session. Turns out that’s overriding the default role of “form”. Oops!

An album for a11y | HeydonWorks

Heydon’s putting together a collection of songs from webby people. I need to either give him a Salter Cane track or record some tunes for this.

tota11y – an a11y visualization toolkit

A handy little bookmarklet for doing some quick accessibility checks.

The Many Faces of The Web

Instead of coming up with all these new tools and JavaScript frameworks, shouldn’t we try to emphasize the importance of learning the underlying fundamentals of the web? Teach those who are just stepping to this medium and starting their careers. By not making our stack more and more complex, but by telling about the best practices that should guide our work and the importance of basic things.

It’s a Website | treevis


Apps must run on specific platforms for specific devices. The app space, while large, isn’t universal.


Websites can be viewed by anyone with a web browser.

And that doesn’t mean foregoing modern features:

A web browser must only understand HTML. Further, newer HTML (like HTML 5) is still supported because the browser is built to ignore HTML it doesn’t understand. As a result, my site can run on the oldest browsers all the way to the newest ones. Got Lynx? No problem. You’ll still be able to find matches nearby. Got the latest smartphone and plentiful data? It’ll work there, too, and take advantage of its features.

This is why progressive enhancement is so powerful.

My site will take advantage of newer technologies like geolocation and local storage. However, the service will not be dependent on them.

Accessibility and Low-Powered Devices | Brad Frost

Brad points out the importance of supporting—which is not the same as optimising for—the non-shiny devices out there.

I really like using the Kindle’s browser as a good baseline for checking that information is available and readable.

Keeping it simple: coding a carousel by Christian Heilmann

I like this nice straightforward approach. Instead of jumping into the complexities of the final interactive component, Chris starts with the basics and layers on the complexity one step at a time, thereby creating a more robust solution.

If I had one small change to suggest, maybe aria-label might work better than offscreen text for the controls …as documented by Heydon.

Dev.Opera — UX accessibility with aria-label

A great run-down by Heydon of just one ARIA property: aria-label.

Accessibility Wins

Marcy’s Tumblr blog of examples of accessibility in action on the web.

Let Links Be Links · An A List Apart Article

A superb piece by Ross Penman on the importance of being true to the spirit of the web.

js;dr = JavaScript required; Didn’t Read.

Because in 10 years nothing you built today that depends on JS for the content will be available, visible, or archived anywhere on the web.

Access Optional - TimKadlec.com

It will come as no surprise that I agree with every single word that Tim has written here.

BBC - Future Media Standards & Guidelines - Accessibility Guidelines v2.0

The minimum dependency for a web site should be an internet connection and the ability to parse HTML.

Progressive Enhancement is not about JavaScript availability. | Christian Heilmann

A great description of progressive enhancement.

Progressive enhancement in its basic form means not making assumptions

Adaptive Web Design: Crafting Rich Experiences with Progressive Enhancement

You can now read Aaron’s excellent book online. I highly recommend reading the first chapter for one of the best descriptions of progressive enhancement that I’ve ever read.

Describe Me

A great Zooniverse-style project for the website of Australia’s Museum Victoria that allows you to provide descriptions for blind and low-vision people.

Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : On the accessibility of web components. Again.

I completely share Bruce’s concern about the year-zero thinking that’s accompanying a lot of the web components marketing:

Snarking aside, why do so few people talk about extending existing HTML elements with web components? Why’s all the talk about brand new custom elements? I don’t know.

Hear, hear!

I’m a fan of web components. But I’m increasingly worried about the messaging surrounding them.

Accessibility of Web Components

A great presentation on web components by Marcy, with an emphasis on keeping them accessible.

ARIA Quicktip: Labelledby vs. Describedby, From the Notebook of Aaron Gustafson

Yesterday, Aaron gave a great talk at BD Conf about forms. In one example, he was using aria-describedby. I was a bit confused by the differences between aria-describedby and aria-labelledby, so Aaron has very helpfully clarified the distinction.

Replacing Radio Buttons Without Replacing Radio Buttons

A great technique from Heydon for styling radio buttons however you want.

Patty Toland — Design Consistency For The Responsive Web (Smashing Conference Freiburg 2014) on Vimeo

Patty’s excellent talk on responsive design and progressive enhancement. Stick around for question-and-answer session at the end, wherein I attempt to play hardball, but actually can’t conceal my admiration and the fact that I agree with every single word she said.

The Tink Tank » Understanding screen reader interaction modes

Léonie gives a great, clear description of how screen readers switch modes as they traverse the DOM snapshot.

Notes on notes (of smart people) about web components

Steve Faulkner responds to Alex’s response to my post about Web Components.

Steve shares my concerns …but he still refers to my post as “piffle”.

I can’t win.

Improving accessibility on GOV.UK search | Technology at GDS

Alice Bartlett shares her experience of getting aria-live regions to work in a meaningful way.

Practical ARIA Examples

Heydon Pickering put together a great collection of accessible self-contained interface patterns that demonstrate smart use of ARIA.

Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : Notes on accessibility of Web Components

Bruce’s thoughts on ensuring accessibility in Web Components. He thinks that the vocabulary of ARIA is up to the job, so that’s good enough for me.

Section for peer-reviewed Custom Elements · Issue

Some sensible thoughts from Addy on how Web Components might be peer-reviewed.

Aerotwist - Web Components and the Three Unsexy Pillars

A healthy dose of scepticism about Web Components, looking at them through the lenses of accessibility, security, and performance.

I share some of this concern: Web Components might look like handy ready-made out-of-the-box solutions, but the truth is that web developers have to do much more of the hard graft that was traditionally left to the browser.

The Pastry Box Project, Scott Jehl, Friday, 7 March 2014

Scott writes an absolutely spot-on skewering of the idea that progressive enhancement means you’re going to spend your time catering to older browsers. The opposite is true.

Progressive Enhancement frees us to focus on the costs of building features for modern browsers, without worrying much about leaving anyone out. With a strongly qualified codebase, older browser support comes nearly for free.

Line Mode on Parallel Transport

A love letter to HTML, prompted by the line-mode browser hack event at CERN.

Progressive Enhancement: It’s About the Content

A cogent definition and spirited defence of progressive enhancement:

Progressive Enhancement is an extension of our shared values on the web and goes to the root of the web. I believe—and hope you agree—that the web is for everybody and should be accessible regardless of the device a user brings to the party.

The Pastry Box Project | 7 August 2013, baked by Karen McGrane

Preach it, Karen!

“Why would someone ever want to do that?” is the wrong question. It doesn’t matter why they want to do it. The fact is that people do. The right question, the one that we all should be asking, is “how can we make a better experience for them?”

Being Practical - TimKadlec.com

Yet another timely reminder from Tim, prompted by the naysayers commenting on his previous excellent post on progressive enhancement, universal access, and the nature of the web.

Crippling the web - TimKadlec.com

A great call-to-arms from Tim, simply asking that we create websites that take advantage of the amazing universality of the web:

The web has the power to go anywhere—any network, any device, any browser. Why not take advantage of that?

Inevitably there is pushback in the comments from developers still in the “denial” stage of coming to terms with what the web is.

Auto-Forwarding Carousels, Accordions Annoy Users

Carousels are shit. Auto-animating carousels are really shit. Now proven with science!

Advancements in the accessibility of Facebook on Marco’s accessibility blog

It’s great to see the changes that Facebook’s four-person accessibility team have managed to push through.

Inclusive Design: Where Accessibility Meets Usability

I’ll be speaking at this event in London on Thursday. It would be lovely if you could come along. It’s free!

CRAPCHA: Completely Ridiculous And Phony Captcha that Hassles for Amusement

These seem just about as reasonable as any other CAPTCHA.

The Accessibility Project

This is a great initiative. I’m going to learn a lot from it. I hope that I might even be able to contribute to it sometime.

Be proud to be a web developer — yatil. Eric Eggert about web development

An ever-timely call-to-arms from Eric:

Sir Tim Berners-Lee envisioned the web as open and accessible for everyone, no matter where they comes from, what speed their connection is, how capable their browsers are or how good their eyes or hands or both work. I feel proud every day to make that vision reality, and it is the job of web developers to make it a reality.

He’s right. We have tremendous power and privilege, and correspondingly tremendous responsibility.

Designing for different devices | Government Digital Service

A behind-the-scenes look at how Gov.uk is handling mobile devices. Spoiler: it’s responsive.

I found this particularly interesting:

When considering the extra requirements users of different devices have we found a lot in common with work already done on accessibility.

Accessibility – what is it good for? | Marco’s accessibility blog

A worrying look at how modern web developers approach accessibility. In short, they don’t.

Easy Fixes to Common Accessibility Problems | Yahoo! Accessibility Library

The low-hanging fruit of accessibility fixes; it’s worth bearing these in mind.

Why mobile Web accessibility matters - best practices to make your mobile site accessible | mobiForge

There’s some great practical advice for building accessible mobile web apps here.

Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : Scooby Doo and the proposed HTML5 element

Bruce’s thoughts on the proposed inclusion of a “content” or “maincontent” element in HTML5.

Personally, I don’t think there’s much point in adding a new element when there’s an existing attribute (role=”main”) that does exactly the same thing.

Also, I don’t see much point in adding an element that can only be used once and only once in a document. However, if a “content” or “maincontent” element could be used inside any sectioning content (section, article, nav, aside), then I could see it being far more useful.

The Blind Shooting The Blind ∵ Stephen van Egmond’s weblog

If you make inaccessible iOS apps, you really only have yourself to blame.

There are also some handy tips here for getting to know VoiceOver.

We are Colorblind

A really nice site dedicated entirely to making the web a better place for the colourblind.

Descriptive Camera

Oh, this is just wonderful: a camera that outputs a text description instead of an image (complete with instructions on how to build one yourself). I love it!

This time, more than any other time

A cautionary tale from Stuart. We, the makers of modern technology, are letting people down. Badly.

We’re in this to help users, remember: not just the ones who think as we do, but the ones who rely on us to build things for them because they don’t know what they’re doing. If your response is honestly “well, he should have spent more on a phone to get something better”, then I’m exceedingly disillusioned by you.

Progressive enhancement is a barrier to progress | Opinion | .net magazine

I can’t remember the last time I read something I disagreed with so fundamentally. This sums up the tone of the article:

Accessibility is not a right; it’s a feature.

I do not agree. I do not agree at all.

(Also, the pre-emtive labelling of anyone who may disagree with your point of view as defending a “sacred cow” is as tired and misguided as labelling anyone who disagrees with your viewpoint as a “fanboy”.)

Time to Kill Off Captchas: Scientific American

Yes, yes, yes! This article does an excellent job of explaining what Captchas are attempting to do and why, therefore, they are so utterly shit.

Confusion over HTML5 & WAI-ARIA | Karl Groves

This helps to clarify the difference between native semantics and ARIA additions.

That “JavaScript not available” case | Christian Heilmann

A great reminder from Christian that making JavaScript a requirement for using a website just doesn’t make much sense.

HTML5 semantics and accessibility | The Paciello Group Blog

This is a great response to my recent post about semantics in HTML. Steve explores the accessibility implications. I heartily concur with his rallying cry at the end:

Get involved!

Understand The Web · Ben Ward

Given some recent hand-wringing about the web as a “platform,” it seems appropriate to revisit this superb article from Ben. The specifics of the companies and technologies may have changed in the past year but the fundamental point remains the same:

Everything about web architecture; HTTP, HTML, CSS, is designed to serve and render content, but most importantly the web is formed where all of that content is linked together. That is what makes it amazing, and that is what defines it. This purpose and killer application of the web is not even comparable to the application frameworks of any particular operating system.

Why are you fighting me? - Blog | Andy Hume

Andy responds to Joe Hewitt’s recent despondent posts about the web. I tend to agree with Andy: I think comparing the web to other “platforms” is missing the point of what the web is.

See also: http://benward.me/blog/understand-the-web

The Next 6 Billion | Web Directions

John reinforces the importance of universal access above the desire to build only for the newest shiniest devices:

Universality is a founding principle of the web. It is the manifesto the web has been built on, and I believe one of the key drivers of the almost unimaginable success of the web over these last two decades. We ignore that at the web’s peril.

Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : HTML5, hollow demos and forgetting the basics

A great reminder from Bruce that we need to remember to use cutting-edge web technology responsibly.

The Tink Tank » Marking up the current page with HTML5 links

Leonie points to a change in the semantics of the a element in HTML5 that could be very handy for accessible navigation.

Contrast Rebellion - to hell with low-contrast fonts!

A cute website that’s a call-to-arms against low-contrast text on the web.

Accessibility and HTML5 Block Links — Simply Accessible

Derek runs some tests on how screenreaders behave when block-level elements are wrapped in links, which is now legal in HTML5.

Accessibility. You’re doing it wrong. | nicepaul.com

Ignoring the awful misleading title, this is a really good post from Paul on his personal experiences dealing with accessibility on one or two projects.

danwebb.net - It’s About The Hashbangs

A superb post by Dan on the bigger picture of what’s wrong with hashbang URLs. Well written and well reasoned.

HTML5 Accessibility Chops: the placeholder attribute | The Paciello Group Blog

A nice succinct description of the placeholder attribute, with an emphasis on accessibility.

Open Planets Foundation | digital, forever

This consortium of institutions and universities came together “to provide practical solutions and expertise in digital preservation.”

PLANETS stands for Preservation and Long-term Access through Networked Services.

ongoing by Tim Bray · Broken Links

Tim Bray calmly explains why hash-bang URLs are a very bad idea.

This is what we call “tight coupling” and I thought that anyone with a Computer Science degree ought to have been taught to avoid it.

accessifyhtml5.js at master from yatil’s accessifyhtml5.js - GitHub

A great little jQuery script to automatically assign ARIA roles to HTML5 elements with the corresponding semantics.

There is no Mobile Web | The Haystack.

Steven nails exactly why I’m so excited about the increasing diversity of devices accessing the web; not so that we can build more silos, but so that we can sure our content is robust enough for the multitude of different devices:

To be honest, I can think of a few, but not many use cases of web sites or apps which are or should be exclusively mobile. It seems like the Mobile Web allows us to revisit all of the talk of inclusion, progressive enhancement and accessibility from years ago.

pixeldiva - Beautiful Design for Everyone

The notes and slides from the talk Ann gave at the London Web Standards meetup in May.

Addressing accessibility | Fix the Web

It'll be interesting to see how this service works out: people can report accessibility problems with any website, and other people can volunteer to help fix the issues.

HTML5 accessibility

A handy table of new HTML5 elements and whether or not they are exposed to assistive technology.

Accessibility video tutorial - learn Accessibility // Think Vitamin Membership

Think Vitamin have been their accessibility material available for free.

My First Week with the iPhoneBehind the Curtain | Behind the Curtain

An emotionally affecting endorsement of the accessibility features on the iPhone.

Yahoo! Accessibility

The website of the Yahoo accessibility team.

Accessibility London Unconference

A one-day event in London in September on the topic of accessibility, with a focus on motor impairment.

The Paciello Group Blog » When will Google Chrome be accessible?

Steve Faulkner has created a petition to let Google know what screenreader users think of Chrome's appalling lack of basic accessibility hooks.

Transcription Services | uiAccess

A list of services you can use to get your podcast transcribed.

HTML5, ARIA Roles, and Screen Readers in May 2010 — Research — Accessible Culture

Test results for screen readers navigating content that uses new HTML5 elements and ARIA roles.

WAI-ARIA Schemata

There is a doctype for HTML4 + ARIA but "This DTD is made available only as a bridging solution for applications requiring DTD validation but not using HTML 5."

ChangeProposals/KeepNewElements - HTML WG Wiki

An excellently written zero-edit change proposal from Edward O'Connor and others, refuting issues raised by Shelley Powers (I offered to help with this change proposal but I never followed through).

Bruce Lawson’s personal site : HTML5 details element, built-in and bolt-on accessibility

An excellent piece by Bruce on why the details element needs to be in HTML5.

BBC - My Web My Way - Home

A handy accessibility resource from Auntie Beeb.

PF/XTech/HTML5 - ESW Wiki

Your one-stop shop for ongoing accessibility work related to HTML5.

WebAIM: Screen Reader User Survey Results

The results of the second screen reader survey from WebAIM are, once again, required reading.

The Paciello Group Blog » Google Chrome frame - accessibility black hole

Using Google Chrome Frame in IE will give users of assistive technology the same shitty to non-existent experience they would get in the actual Google Chrome browser.

We are Colorblind » Patterns for the Color Blind

A pattern library that considers colour blindness.

My first experience using an accessible touch screen device « Marco’s accessibility blog

A hands-on account of the new accessibility features in the iPhone. Sounds like a great experience.

Read Regular / Introduction

A forthcoming typeface designed specifically to help people with dyslexia read and write more effectively.

HTML 5–What I’m Watching at Wendy Chisholm

Wendy gives some commentary from her ringside seat at the theatre of HTML5.

An essay on W3C's design principles - Contents

Bert Bos's 2000 Treatise (published in 2003) is a must-read for anyone involved in developing any kind of format. "This essay tries to make explicit what the developers in the various W3C working groups mean when they invoke words like efficiency, maintainability, accessibility, extensibility, learnability, simplicity, longevity, and other long words ending in -y."