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Re: Accessibility of Tableau data dashboards?


From: Kelley Howell
Date: May 24, 2016 3:03PM

I was thinking along the same lines and then wondered: is there a data visualization tool for the desktop that is accessible?

But then it occurred to me that if you are Edward Tufte, the data visualization genius, he would want his data to tell a story. Since stories are told in words, then we can use words.

So, if you have a cluster map, you could write the program to read the description of the cluster map's output. Bear with me because this is off the cuff, not thought out, but I hope it gets across my general idea.

I am curious if you think this would be more useful than what we have now?

Example 1:

Overview: This cluster map is showing the number of foreclosures in differently bounded areas which are identified as neighborhood, ZIP Code, City, County, State, Region, and Country.

Specific View: This cluster map shows the top 50 areas with the highest number of foreclosures in ZIP codes (and corresponding Place Names) located in the United States. From largest to smallest, starting with largest:

"Very large cluster. 527 homes in foreclosure in the Zip Code 67891 with the Place San Antonio Texas.
Very large cluster. 498 homes in foreclosure in the Zip Code 33415 in Newport, Tennessee."

Example 2:
Or a description of a bar chart:
"This bar chart displays the demographic profile of people shopping for Nike shoes.

Gender. 60% men, 35% women, 5% other are shopping for Nike shoes.
Area type: 35% suburubanites, 25% urbanities, 30% rural residents shopping for Nike shoes.

And so forth.

-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Olaf Drümmer
Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 4:22 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Accessibility of Tableau data dashboards?

> 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.