Category Archives: Personal Experiences

Surf a GB with Glenda’s Thumb

The internet has opened the world to me in truly countless ways. However, that isn’t to say I don’t face numerous obstacles along the way. To understand the obstacles I face while using the web, a snapshot of my disability might be beneficial. When I was born, I did not breathe for six minutes. As…

Leaving Blog Comments: The Rodent versus The TAB

Have you ever encountered a website that didn’t behave as expected?

i have; take earlier this week as an example. I attempted to leave a comment about another accessibility issue on the aWeber Blog. I entered my name, hit the TAB key, entered my email, hit TAB, entered my website address, hit TAB, and landed on the Submit Comment button…

Wait, did I miss something?

With my joystick I moved my cursor back to the website field and tried to again, in case I hit TAB twice accidentally the first time around. Again, I skipped over the comment box.

aWeber blog comment form

Doing what I do as a Web Accessibility Consultant, I then checked the source code. My suspicion was confirmed. Here’s what I found:

  • The Name field was set to tabindex="1"
  • Email: tabindex="2"
  • Website: tabindex="3"
  • Submit Comment: tabindex="5"

Wait a minute, what happened to tabindex="4"?

No wonder the comment box was skipped right over. There was no associated tabindex, which determines the order in which elements are tabbed to. By the comment field not having a tabindex specified, there is no way to get to this field using only the keyboard.

I am not alone in using the TAB key when submitting blog posts. According to the unscientific twtpoll (as of 10:47am pacific time on June 9, 2011), out of 11  people:

  • Piechart showing poll results 1 person (9%) prefer using their mouse (or equivalent),
  • 6 people (55%) prefer using their TAB key, and
  • 4 people (36%) don’t have a preference; whichever is easiest at the time.

More than half over the people prefer using the TAB key over the rodent when leaving blog comments. This means the process needs to be completely keyboard operable.

Defining the tab order is only necessary when the default tab order is not ideal; otherwise, the tabindex should be avoided. (See Keyboard Accessibility: Altering the Default Tab Order Using tabindex for more information.)

Blog Accessibility is about People: Share Your Story

Web and blog accessibility is more than checking off a seemingly long list of technical requirements, possibly to avoid legal action. Web and blog accessibility is about people. It’s about enabling people with all kinds of abilities and disabilities, using a variety of technologies, to use websites and blogs. It’s about enabling people to use sites independent of assistance from others. It’s about freedom. It’s about empowerment.

As blogger extraordinaire Liz Strauss so eloquently put it:

The perfect blog is code filled with humanity.

For blog and web developers to see accessibility as more than a checklist of technical requirements, it is beneficial to hear from people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities who use various technologies to access the Internet, to hear about the obstacles they face online, and to hear ideas and feedback for potential solutions.

With this sharing of personal experiences, then real understanding for the need of accessible sites and blogs can begin to happen. From there, a collaboration between bloggers or web developers and the readers or end-users can take place.

To that end, I’d like to invite people of all abilities to share your stories of surfing the internet. What works for you? What drivers you nuts? What do you wish bloggers and web developers would do differently or would understand?

I would like to invite you to share your personal experiences in either a guest post or in question-and-answer post. Ideally, I would like to share a couple of stories per month. If you’re interested in sharing your story, please leave your name and your preferred format in the comments below and I’ll be in touch to arrange a date for your time in the spotlight.

Let the story sharing and collaboration begin!

Google CAPTCHAs Nearly Blocked Me from Completing Work

One task on today’s to-do list was to set up a Google group for a client to discuss migrating the organization’s static site to WordPress. I haven’t used Google groups, but I have previously used Yahoo groups. Setting up a group in Google shouldn’t be that much different.

The first step required basic information: the group’s name, a brief description and an access level. Once done, I hit the “Create my group” button and was presented with a CAPTCHA for verification purposes:


Are you kidding me? With my once perfect vision whose only impairment is being forty-four years old, I could not make out most of the garbled letters, even after tilting my head in various directions.

After a few moments, I decided to click on the wheelchair icon to give the audio CAPTCHA a shot. From previous experience I knew audio versions were equally garbled, but I figured it couldn’t be much more undecipherable than this image of garbled letters – or what I assumed were letters.

Much to my surprise, I was presented with:

Google CAPTCHA with the message "Sorry, we are unable to handle your request at this time, please try again later."

What? Unable to handle my request at this time? What does that mean? All I requested was the audio CAPTCHA. I don’t want to try again later; I want to finish this task now. How is coming back later equal access?

I typed in my best guess. Obviously my guess was wrong because I was presented with a second CAPTCHA:


Again my middle-aged eyes could not decipher the distorted characters. Again the audio CAPTCHA was not available. Again I typed in a guess. Again I was wrong.

Had this frustration been required for submitting a blog comment, submitting an information request or ordering a purchase, I would have muttered “Forget it!”, closed the tab and not returned, ever!

But, this was legitimate work for a long-tem client. I had to complete this task. Again I tried:

Google CAPTCHAThe third time I hit the jackpot: the group was verified, finally. But this process should not be more challenging than winning in Vegas!

These darn things might be stopping most bots from proceeding, but how many humans are also blocked? There has to be another way to treat humans humanly while keeping out spammy bots!

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