WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: Difficulty with the WebAIM site


From: Prof Norm Coombs
Date: Feb 8, 2000 7:26PM

Hi Paul and all:
I am not sure I can explain this very clearly.
When I accessed the page the screen reader read the data quite well. Then,
the problem came with site navigation. You would really have to sit beside
me and listen to what happens when I tab through the links.
When you tab from one item to another, the screen reader skips the text
between links and reads the next highlighted item, the next active link.
I tabbed along and suddenly was surprised when the screen reader told me I
was in an edit field but gave me no clue about the field. I backed up on
tabe and that was something about online courses or something. I tabbed
back to the edit field and wondered if I was supposed to put in a course
name or what? I tabbed one more time and the word spoken was search. It
didn't say 'submit' but I am guessing it was the submit button and the edit
field was for the search. Nothing gave me a clue to expect this and maybe
my guess is wrong.
I pondered and used the roaming cursor to try to locate where I was. that
curser did not indicate where the edit field was but did read the titles
like online course and search and I guessed I must be in between them but
did not know.
I decided to tab and explore more. I then got what sounded like a send
mail link sending mail to the listserv but again, my second cursor was no
Frequently an edit field seems to have a label associated with it . .
Frequently when I hit an edit field, it says something like:
'search field'.
At 07:23 PM 2/8/00 -0700, you wrote:
>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)