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Re: Accessibility of Tableau data dashboards?


From: Olaf Drümmer
Date: May 24, 2016 2:22PM

> On 24.05.2016, at 17:44, Angela French < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> If anyone knows of an accessible data visualization tool I would really appreciate it if you would share that information with this list.

To be honest I believe there are a couple of challenges that can't be overcome easily…:

Tableau or any similar tool is a tool to makes large amounts of data accessible to sighted people, usually by distilling some essence out of such data that otherwise would be next to impossible to consume.

In Tableau, it is in principle possible to reveal all of the source data in text form. In principle a non-sighted user could use text to speech/Braille displays/screen readers etc. to have this data presented. Nonetheless, this would be essentially useless for most scenarios, as the amount of data is just overwhelming. A non-sighted user might be better off by using some kind of query language and extract distilled information through that query language (could be painful though as learning such a query language might be tedious).

For sighted users with some other disability, like a motor impairment (or maybe users with reduced vision), one could envision that accessibility would mostly mean accessible navigation. In Tableau (and probably any similar tool) one can interact with the dashboards in many ways. For users with a print disability Tableau might actually turn out to be quite accessibility - more visualization, less text to consume. From a cognitive disability point of view, accessibility will probably mostly depend on the content represented and the level of abstraction and complexity in the data/the dashboards.

So maybe we should be looking for the right angle when it comes to accessibility of data visualization tools?


PS: I am writing this after just having spent quite a few hours playing with Tableau on a huge data table with hundreds of thousands of records with ca. 100 fields per record. Just think what it would be like to "read" 10 million pieces of information… With the dashboards I built, consuming more or less the same data and making some sense out of them will take a few minutes… As the underlying data is dynamic and could change every other minute, writing (or dynamically synthesizing) alternative text could turn out to mostly pointless.