Category Archives: Accessibility Roundtable

3 Questions to Determine Whether Your Blog Theme Designer Gives a Rip about Accessibility

Congratulations! Your blog is a hit; even making money. Now you are itching to upgrade from a free blog theme to a beautifully designed custom theme.

But wait!

You have worked hard to ensure each blog post is as accessible as possible. Theme designers also impact the accessibility of your blog. However, not all theme designers are created equal. Not all have a clue about accessibility.

Here are three questions to ask when searching for a theme designer with knowledge and experience with web accessibility:

1. Which accessible guidelines or standards do you strive to meet in your work?

Possible responses include:

2. How do you test the accessibility of your designs?

Possible responses include:

  • Ask people with various disabilities to try the blog and provide feedback
  • Use a variety of accessibility checker applications, such as A-Checker, WAVE, Contrast Analyzer, HTML and CSS validators. (One application alone is not adequate!)
  • Checking web page code manually, against a specified set of guidelines or policy

3. Which themes have you recently created that meet accessibility guidelines?

Caution: Because they may have not built an accessible theme does not necessarily mean they don’t know how.

What other questions would you add to this list when searching for a theme designer knowledgeable about accessibility?

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Font Resizing Widgets: A Help or A Hindrance to Accessibility?

Font resizer A font resizing widget enables your blog readers to easily increase the font size to suit their comfort level for reading.

It seems like a handy tool to make available to readers to increase accessibility. However, as is often the case with features that appear, at first  glance, to improve accessibility, there is no consensus on whether providing such a tool is actually a help or a hindrance.

Advantages of a Font Resizer

Proponents of this feature say it provides a quick way for people to adjust the font size when needed. The feature is ideal for individuals who do not need a full blown magnification program (e.g., aisquared’s ZoomText) and for individuals with limited internet experience who do not know how to change the font size settings within their browser.

The feature also assists individuals with cognitive impairments who do not have the skills to adjust their browser settings or who are locked out of their browser settings.

Disadvantages of a Font Resizer

Proponents of this feature say it adds more clutter to the site, particularly for keyboard users who then must tab through more content to reach the content they want. They claim that adding such a  feature benefits a select few while negatively impacting the experience of many. They offer that it is better to educate readers on how to change standard browser settings.

In his post Web Accessibility Preferences Are For Sissies?, which discusses the disadvantages in greater depth, Jared Smith points out, "There may be places where accessibility preferences, widgets, or controls are justified. My point is that they always come at a very steep cost – and that developers should balance the possible advantages of web accessibility preferences with the significant disadvantages."

What Do You Say?

Do you provide a font  resizing widget on your blog? Would it depend upon your targeted audience of your blog? Do you wish more or fewer bloggers included such a feature? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Applying via Mail and Applying Online: Equal Access According to the Government of Canada

Last year Donna Jodhan, with a Master in Business Administration (MBA) in international business and finance from McGill University and certified computer skills with Microsoft and Novell programs,  took the Government of Canada to court, claiming the government’s online job application process was inaccessible to individuals who are blind and sight impaired. The Canadian Charter…

How to Add Accessibility to Your Blogging Workflow?

During a call for Third Tribe Marketing earlier this week, Chris Brogan mentioned that he would like to add captions to his videos, but he isn’t sure how to add that task into his workflow.

Workflow?

It struck me in that moment that workflow is another way blog accessibility differs from web accessibility. Any worthy web developer or designer implements accessibility from the beginning of the project and it is part of the job; accessibility flows naturally and seamlessly through the project.

But, for bloggers who do want to attract a larger, more inclusive readership, implementing accessibility guidelines in each blog post requires a conscious effort – at least, initially while learning what is required. Some extra time may also be required, particularly when it comes to captioning videos, which is a time-consuming and tedious, albeit necessary, task.

I can imagine these questions churning through bloggers’ minds:

  • How much time does implementing the accessibility guidelines require?
  • Is there a best order to implement them?
  • When do I fit these extra tasks into my limited blogging time?

What other questions am I missing? What other burning questions about fitting in “accessibility” do you have?

When I explain a particular accessibility tip – such as adding alt text to images – I offer why it is important and how to do it. Shall I also offer how long it might take and when it might be done? Would that kind of information be beneficial to you as bloggers?

To address Chris’ dilemma, there are a number of ways videos can be captioned:

  1. Some software, like Camtasia, offer a way to add captions during the editing process;
  2. With tools like Overstream.net,  captions can be added to videos already online;
  3. Pay a transcription service;
  4. Use Dragon Naturally Speaking to create the transcript;
  5. And the list goes on.

However Chris’ question was “how”  as much as it was “when”. Many of his videos are created on the fly – at the kitchen, waiting for his next flight, in his hotel room – in between his other countless commitments. Needing to stop to take time to add captions would likely mean many of his videos would not be shared online.

Realistically, what’s the solution? For Chris, perhaps it’s adopting a policy whereby someone within the Brogan Empire is tasked with ensuring the video is captioned within a specified time (i.e. 72 hours) of it going live. That kind of policy might fit into his workflow best. For another blogger, another policy might work better.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you fit accessibility into your workflow? Or, what information do you need to begin adding accessibility into your blogging routine?

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