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Screenreader Compatibility Tips

Screenreader Compatibility Tips

I watch as person after person pulls furiously on a door handle before giving it a shove, flying through the doorway much to their surprise and quickly patting down their disheveled attire.
(I'm allowed to laugh as it makes me feel better about doing it myself shortly before, only much less gracefully).
The problem here? The door handle was giving the wrong message. What looked like a handle was indeed a hinge.
My point is, the need for accessibility is everywhere and it is as important in web design as it is in architecture.

When designing for web we must consider various factors such as colour contrast and text size but many forget to consider screenreader users (Screen readers are audio interfaces that convert text into synthesised speech so that users can listen to the content). Luckily there are a few simple things that can be done in order to improve usability for screenreader users, and ultimately all web users...

Logical linearization
Unlike sighted web users who can scan a web page and pull out at random what they consider to be the important information. Screen reader users tend to listen to a page from start to finish, top to bottom, left to right. So it is best to have the important parts towards the top of the page.

Descriptive page title
The first thing a screen reader user hears is the page title. It is imperative that this gives users a clear idea of what to expect from that page. Obviously this benefits everyone as anyone can use the page title to orientate themselves and confirm they are where they want to be on the website.

Descriptive headings
One of the most important usability features for screen reader users is on-page headings. The page structure can then be more easily understood. Although text on the page may appear to be a heading for sighted users, screen readers read through the HTML code so it must be labelled as a heading within that. The screen reader will then announce it as such.

Descriptive link text
Screen reader users can call up a list of on-page links and browse a web page that way. They simply activate links of interest to them. Therefore non-descriptive link text like ‘click here’ is meaningless out of context so avoid it like the plague!

Lists
Using lists within the HTML code is super useful as screen readers announce the number of items in each list before reading them out. This way screenreader users have a better idea of what to expect when hearing a list of items, for example site navigation.
A bit like the way an answer machine tells you how many messages you have received rather than just reeling them off one after the other. You feel more prepared for what you're about to listen to. The use of lists (using the <li> tag) is a behind-the-scenes change to the code that shouldn't really affect what the website looks like.


The great thing about these screenreader friendly tips is that each and every one of them will improve overall user experience.
We as humans like to know what to expect and are comfortable with what feels familiar. It's always good to bear this in mind when designing for web and there is no reason this should jeopardise your creativity. Maybe give the web equivalent of dodgy door handles a miss though, just a thought!

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Wednesday August 26 2015 03:06 PM


Tags: website technology web-development accessibility communication usability screenreader


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IE9 Launch - is it time for you to break up with your browser?

IE9 Launch - is it time for you to break up with your browser?

A browser can be like that comfy pair of old slippers, it’s your friend, to take your walks around the internet in. It can be hard to break the habit of those old comfy slippers though, and try a new pair of slippers, even if they may allow you to walk a bit faster and trip you up less. You might not know your way round in them so well at first, they might not be the right fit for what you need or they could be a great improvement; maybe those old slippers are holding you back? With the launch of Internet Explorer 9 last week it’s time for us all to consider if our current browser really is the best fit.

For those less technical savvy amongst you, you may be shocked to know that there is more than one way to view the internet. You may still be using Internet Explorer thinking that that is as good as the internet can get, but let me introduce you to my friends, Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari. These different browsers offer different functionality some are better for macs (Safari) some are faster (Chrome) and some are safer (Firefox). 

Internet Explorer has dominated the browser market for many years; in 2002 95% of web users were browsing through it, now that’s more like 45-50%. This is because the browser market has revolutionised in the last couple of years with the invention of browsers like Chrome and Firefox which offer faster web browsing, better functionality and a more intuitive web browsing experience. Internet Explorer 9 is Microsoft’s latest offering that is trying to win back its market share. It offers integration with Windows 7 to make browsing your favourite sites easier, and gives larger screen space to site contents by reducing the tool bars. 

It’s free to download any of these browsers, so why not find out which is the right fit for you? 




Future of Web Design Tour 2009

We're back from the Future of Web Design (FOWD) 1 day conference in Bristol

Paul & Simon had an inspiring day learning about the latest web design trends and topics as well as meeting lots of other designers and developers in the Bristol area.

The conference covered topics including: the new features of HTML5 - the next generation of web design technology, how to improve the design process with your clients, how to create the perfect portfolio and 5 ways to introduce more fun into the work place.

The hosts even provided free beer after the event as well!

Created on Thursday September 10 2009 10:13 AM


Tags: networking bristol browser communication fowd conference


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The unifying power of dance

advanced apiary communication skills
"Honeybees can communicate with others from far-off continents by learning to interpret their dance moves, scientists have found."

I'm afraid I can't think of even the most tenuous link between this article and web development or our industry, it's just the best thing I've read in the papers all week.

Cross species communication doesn't happen all that much (unless you count how many times your pet dog induces you to yawn a week) so it's pretty exciting when it does.  Especially when this involves the deployment of jazz hands (or wings oscillating wildly, which is almost the same thing).

Honeybees find food sources by sending out intrepid explorer bees to find flower food or die trying.  If they return, they have to do a little dance to let other worker bees know in which direction it lies and how far to travel.  Different honeybee species dance in a variety of manners (the French precariously carrying a baguette under one wing, for example).

Amazingly, if you put a bunch of Eurasian honeybees and Asian honeybees together in a hive, the latter species manage to learn the formers' funky dance moves in a jiffy - leading them to the same food sources!  Brilliant!!!

You can read the proper articles about honey bees here and here.  For more stories about shaking pandas and cannibalistic ladybirds, go here and here.

Sources
Guardian
Science Daily

Null Hypothesis
Animal of the Week

Created on Friday June 06 2008 10:43 AM


Tags: fun science web-development communication


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