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I, EDI, owe you, the human species, an apology from the bottom of my heart (which I don’t have). I hope you don’t harbour any hard feelings (f !https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/weblogs/images/19902/WAI_001.gif|height=15|alt=e|width=7|src=https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/weblogs/images/19902/WAI_001.gif|border=0!!https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/weblogs/images/19902/WAI_002.gif|height=22|alt=e|width=4|src=https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/weblogs/images/19902/WAI_002.gif|border=0!l !https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/weblogs/images/19902/WAI_003.gif|height=15|alt=i|width=7|src=https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/weblogs/images/19902/WAI_003.gif|border=0!ng +n. <em>4 A </em> An emotional state or disposition; an emotion +). What happened? Eddy wasn’t very pleased with my reply to Jürgen’s remark concerning the readability of my Die Mensch-Maschine. He wasn’t amused with my remark concerning “deficiencies of the human being”. He found this hurtful for both people of reduced visibility and people with plain old fashioned bad eyesight. Eddy has a great respect for these people since his old maths and computer science teacher and mentor possessed such a handicap. Despite his handicap he was able to cope with the aid of various magnifying tools. Eddy found my remark totally inappropriate and said that I had no right to say such things as long as I can’t speak comprehensibly, certainly when I wanted to do a BoF session at Teched.
*Barely readable *
And I must say that Eddy was absolutely correct. I must even admit that my article isn’t very readable on the screen either for visually impaired people, or even by myself. It feels like making a CAPTCHA and not being able to read it myself. So how could I have done better? There are a few rules of thumb that one can follow in order to make it more comprehensible. There are several recommendations such as JAN , US government Access board guidelines or even standards like WAI , but I would like to give a short summary with quick wins. These can be done on the following fronts:
In order to make images comprehensible you can’t put any images with crucial information without any additional explanation. If the image was left out, the content should still be as understandable. Thus no comic book sites. Furthermore the colours of an image should be carefully chosen in order to make it understandable for colour blind people. Consider testing in black and white in order to understand the repercussions of a choice of colour. The last, on the image front itself, is to avoid animated images which, although they may be nice to see, can be confusing to a screen reader.
On the HTML front, you must always specify an ALTernative text in the image tag. In the early days of internet it was used for non graphical browsers, but it still has its uses even now. In fact, as a matter of speech, a screen reader is ‘nothing more’ than a speech enabled Lynx . If you don’t do this it will read
- It should be short and accurate. No epistles please.
- Technical images (spacers), and decorative images without real meaning, should have empty Alt texts. If not, a screen reader will read to the end which makes it harder to understand.
- If you have consecutive images with the same content, only provide an Alt text for one, otherwise a screen reader will kind of stammer on this.
- If you use client side maps, use the Alt text on the different areas and not on the image itself
THE rule of thumb for forms is that they need to always be accessed and completed via the keyboard. That means that fancy scripting based on the input of the user shouldn’t make them impracticable for impaired users. Furthermore a form should be built up logically, in other words, the tab navigation should be set in such a way that it can be read from left to right, top to bottom. Thus, no fancy jumping among the fields all over the screen.
On the HTML front you need to do the following:
- Use the
a.k.a. table headers are only used within data tables and not for it’s visual aspect
tag can be useful for additional explanatory purposes
And how does this all fit in my (BSP) application? Craig has written the following excellent series of web logs:
- [Is SAP Accesible? Is your BSP? | Is SAP Accesible? Is your BSP?]
- [Accessibility and Applications | Accessibility and Applications]
- [Wrapping it up, how accesible are you now? | Wrapping it up, how accesible are you now?]