WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: Difficulty with the WebAIM site


From: Paul Bohman
Date: Feb 8, 2000 7:23PM

Although we have taken steps to make sure that the WebAIM site is
accessible, we sometimes find that our efforts are not as "perfect" as we
thought they were. Recently, a blind individual went to the site to sign up
for the list serv, and, although he was able to do so successfully, it
apparently was not a totally user-friendly experience for him. In an effort
to share whatever insight that can be gained from this situation, I am
posting the recent (and hopefully continuing) dialogue to the group.
--- His first message was:
"I tried to subscribe but I found the very confusing with a screen reader. I
have no idea if I did it correctly. Can I help you in designing this process
so it is clearer?"
--- His second message was:
"Apparently I did better than I feared as I got a message from the system.
When I found myself in a couple edit fields, I didn't have a clue what I was
expected to write . . . Usually the screen reader speaks something back. I
am old fashioned enough that I'm not accustomed to accessing a list via a
web page. I am used to using e-mail to sub."
--- My response to his experience follows:
[the page in question, by the way, is
I guess that you were a good test for the accessibility of our site, and
perhaps we didn't do as well as we thought we had.
I'll describe the organization of the page, and you tell me if this matched
your experience.
First is a graphic which links to the WebAIM home page, then a link which
lets you skip the main menu. The main menu comes after that. Then there is a
link which lets you skip the submenu, followed by the submenu itself. Then
you are at the main content of the page.
So, in theory, you could hear the image alt tag, then "skip main menu" then
"skip submenu" then the main content. This was done so that a person can
bypass the menu items even though these items are the first items on the
Once you arrive at the main content on the list serv subscribe page, you are
presented with a brief explanation and a link which opens up your email
program and allows you to subscribe.
That's how it is supposed to work, anyway.
The edit field which you encountered was a part of the submenu. It is the
site search function. In this case, it was unrelated to your "mission" of
subscribing to the list serv.
I appreciate your feedback on the site (e.g. your difficulties). This is
valuable to us. After hearing my description of our design and the thought
process that went into it, how did our concept differ from your experience?
I would really appreciate the feedback, and I think it would benefit
everyone. If you could respond to the listserv
( <EMAIL REMOVED> ), that would be great.
Paul Bohman
Web Accessibility in Mind (Web AIM)