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Re: Speech output for a Trip Planner Table


From: Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis
Date: Jun 9, 2008 5:50PM

Tom Kort wrote:
> I am testing the trip planner at http://tripplanning.translink.bc.ca/hiwire
> I would like to know some of the specific notorious aspects of trip
> planners, since people are suggesting that I ammicromanaging my
> accessibility approach.

Hi Tom, attention to detail in accessibility testing is good. :) I think
people are rather suggesting you're trying to micromanage how a
screenreader reads the page, rather than trying to give a screenreader
user as much flexibility as possible to read the page as suits them.

I'm not sure that trip planners have accessibility problems that are
intrinsic to trip planners, rather than generally tending to be examples
of inaccessible design and implementation.

> >A link to the precise page, or a description of how to get there, would
> >?be helpful. Are you talking about:
> You can access the trip planner by
> 1. visiting http://tripplanning.translink.bc.ca/hiwire
> 2. Under the "From" fields, choose an arbitrary location from "Select
> from Popular Locations". Then pick an arbitrary location from "Here are
> the locations available in the category. Please select one."
> 3. Under the "To" fields, choose an arbitrary location from "Select from
> Popular Locations."
> Then pick an arbitrary location from "Here are the locations available
> in the category. Please select one."
> 4. Press "Next Step"

That's a good walkthrough, thank you.

Looking at that confirms my suspicion that the times need to be reworked
to use a standard time format: "4:17p" is unclear to a sighted user, let
alone a program like a screen reader. p.m. is the correct abbreviation,
the 12-hour clock traditionally uses a full stop not a colon, and there
should be a space between the time and a.m./p.m.

> I am retrofitting the trip planner on the Translink site.

That sounds harder than rewriting it. How much freedom do you have to
redesign and rewrite the frontend HTML/CSS/JS of the journey planner
from scratch? It could definitely use it. Some usability and
accessibility problems I noticed with that Results page alone include
(in no particular order):

1. There's a link to check another page for service announcements that
might affect your trip (and your choice of journeys). The Transport for
London journey planner tells you which journey options are affected by
current service announcements with handy messages like "Problems are
currently reported on this route" and "Planned engineering works are
taking place" on the results page.
2. Failure to set initial focus with a fragment identifier, forcing
users to skip through the same initial set of links.
3. Mixture of table layouts with data tables will make it harder for
assistive technology to distinguish the two. Failure to use data table
markup, like the TH element, for said data tables will make it even
harder still.
4. Many images have no alt attributes, and this is exacerbated by the
use of </img> closing tags which are illegal in HTML and may be
error-corrected to create a second image element. In many cases, alt
text would be needed to provide link text or table column headings.
5. Use of images for text, inhibiting resizing or recoloring or changing
the font to suit the user's preferences.
6. Distracting (constantly changing), irrelevant ("Join our online
advisory panel"), confusing ("Click here") Flash animation at top right
that needs replacing with a simple link at the bottom of the page somewhere.
7. The route summaries are poor. There needs to be some indication that
the numbers in the first column are bus numbers. Expo Line is not an
acronym; 999 is not its expansion; neither is going to be particularly
comprehensible to those who are from out of town, but Expo Line (999)
might be an improvement for those who aren't.
8. Using a term and then explaining on the some page that you don't
really mean it, and on another page that it doesn't have the
implications one would expect, is very confusing, but that's what is
being done here with the word "transfers". I recommend finding a term to
distinguish transfers "where you stay on the same vehicle" from
transfers where you don't. The Help system says "This means that during
the course of your trip, one bus route turns into another bus route with
little if any time between." This is surely a critical distinction when
picking a journey option since people basically avoid "transfers" to
avoid the journey being slowed or disrupted.
9. If a design requires labeled arrows pointing to the controls you're
meant to click, then it's not clear enough to begin with. There are no
hover or focus styles or effects for the all-important "Detail" buttons,
which look too much like the table headings and not enough like links or
10. Poor contrast between blue text and blue backgrounds.
11. No ability to reorder the results by different criteria (e.g. by
number of transfers rather than duration).

Hope that helps.
Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis