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Re: Are Tag Clouds Accessible


From: Patrick H. Lauke
Date: Apr 27, 2007 5:20PM

> I think the notion of accurately reperesenting the relative relationships
> is going beyond the function and purpose of a tag cloud. A tag cloud is a
> very inexact device - based on popularity - but does provide a browsable
> directory of items with an "at a glance" feature for selecting more
> popular tags on the premise that the user will be more likely to be
> interested in a more popular tag. Just how much more popular a tag is over
> another is somewhat irrelevant in my opinion - the point is to find a tag
> that catches your interest and then go to its page. A tag cloud is less a
> content item and more a navigational device.

No offence, but I think the key phrase here is "in my opinion".

> In my opinion the del.icio.us is pretty accessible since they provide the
> sort by size option. The only information a visual browser user gets that
> a screen reader user doesn't get is when a size "step" has changed - but
> does this really matter?

If it doesn't matter, why have it for visual users? I still say that
information gets lost for non-visual users.

> I'd also suggest that a screen reader user could get fairly tired of
> hearing the repetitive "photos are tagged with".

That's not related to the issue of providing the "step size" information
non-visually. I'm certainly in agreement that prefixing all links with
"photos tagged with..." is a bad idea.

> The example used Flickr tags - but on del.icio.us
> (or other social bookmarking sites) the numbers could regularly be in the
> hundreds or thousands if not higher. You'd probably then need to factor
> that down to some sort of scale e.g. 1 to 100 to deal with cumbersome
> numbers - but then some bright spark will argue that doesn't represent
> actual numbers properly

This bright spark here would say that no, if the visual display is also
submitted to a scaling factor (which of course it is), then as long as
the same type of scaling factor is also applied for non-visual
information that's fine (though for non-visual users, a small note that
figures they may read/hear are normalised to provide comparison only,
and are not reflective of actual number of items tagged, may be necessary).

> If we think about the mobility impaired for a moment - I'd suggest they
> find it more difficult to click on the smaller tags. So, when del.icio.us
> shows us the list in descending "size" i.e. popularity we don't really
> need the links to become smaller (although it's a nice metaphor and visual
> reminder) - perhaps the ratio of sizes could be reduced to provide a more
> uniform clickable area without losing the visual cue completely.

Again, completely agree.

Patrick H. Lauke