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Thread: Infinite scrolling and accessibility

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Number of posts in this thread: 9 (In chronological order)

From: Ramya Sethuraman
Date: Wed, Jan 09 2013 12:05PM
Subject: Infinite scrolling and accessibility
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Hi,

I am trying to understand what happens to screen readers when they
encounter infinite scrolling? For example, what happens to the virtual
buffer of Jaws when a user is reading a page and tabs and more content
loads at the bottom of the page? Does this interrupt what Jaws is reading
to the user?

Thanks,
Ramya

From: Steve Green
Date: Wed, Jan 09 2013 3:05PM
Subject: Re: Infinite scrolling and accessibility
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In my view, infinite scrolling is perhaps the most stupid UI abomination I can recall in more than 30 years in IT. The user experience benefits are minimal and it creates massive usability and accessibility issues. It's pure willy-waving, done because it can be done, not because it benefits anyone.

To answer the OP's question, the behaviour depends on a number of factors. I just tested a Facebook page with Firefox 17 and JAWS 13. As you navigate down the page, new content is fed in seamlessly i.e. the virtual object model is not corrupted. Of course a blind person will not know this is happening, and may be confused by this apparently never-ending page. In the case of Facebook they might actually know it does this, but they won't know on sites that are new to them.

The fact that the centre column never ends means that it may not be straightforward to get to the content in the right-hand column. This is where different website designs may require different strategies. On Facebook you can press the H key repeatedly to get to a heading in the right-hand column, but that is only possible because the centre column contains almost no headings, which is an issue in itself. On other sites it may be more difficult.

The virtual object model did get confused when I used Ctrl+End to go to the end of the page (i.e. the end of the right-hand column) and navigate upwards. It was ok until the page scrolled up, at which point some more of the infinite content was pulled into the centre column. The focus then jumped from the right-hand column to somewhere in the centre column.

Our experience is that older (but still relatively new) JAWS versions are more prone to corruption of the virtual object model by dynamic content, but I have not yet done tests with older versions.

Steve Green
Managing Director
Test Partners Ltd

-----Original Message-----
From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = [mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Ramya Sethuraman
Sent: 09 January 2013 19:05
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: [WebAIM] Infinite scrolling and accessibility

Hi,

I am trying to understand what happens to screen readers when they encounter infinite scrolling? For example, what happens to the virtual buffer of Jaws when a user is reading a page and tabs and more content loads at the bottom of the page? Does this interrupt what Jaws is reading to the user?

Thanks,
Ramya

From: Léonie Watson
Date: Thu, Jan 10 2013 6:18AM
Subject: Re: Infinite scrolling and accessibility
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Ramya Sethuraman wrote:
"I am trying to understand what happens to screen readers when they
encounter infinite scrolling? For example, what happens to the virtual
buffer of Jaws when a user is reading a page and tabs and more content loads
at the bottom of the page? Does this interrupt what Jaws is reading to the
user?"

In my experience there is a slight pause whilst the virtual buffer updates
with the new content, but it isn't anything that really hinders the reading
experience too much.

The thing I find more irritating is not being able to search for content I
know to be there because it hasn't made it into the virtual buffer yet. For
example moving to an old entry on my facebook timeline.

Léonie.

-----Original Message-----
From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
[mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Ramya Sethuraman
Sent: 09 January 2013 19:05
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: [WebAIM] Infinite scrolling and accessibility

Hi,

I am trying to understand what happens to screen readers when they encounter
infinite scrolling? For example, what happens to the virtual buffer of Jaws
when a user is reading a page and tabs and more content loads at the bottom
of the page? Does this interrupt what Jaws is reading to the user?

Thanks,
Ramya
messages to = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =

From: Patrick H. Lauke
Date: Thu, Jan 10 2013 6:27AM
Subject: Re: Infinite scrolling and accessibility
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On 10/01/2013 13:18, Léonie Watson wrote:
> The thing I find more irritating is not being able to search for content I
> know to be there because it hasn't made it into the virtual buffer yet. For
> example moving to an old entry on my facebook timeline.

Yup, that's a general usability problem I have with the approach as well
(just using the browser, not screenreader)

P
--
Patrick H. Lauke

From: Birkir R. Gunnarsson
Date: Thu, Jan 10 2013 7:56AM
Subject: Re: Infinite scrolling and accessibility
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www.twitter.com is an example of the infinite scrolling, correct?
I use it with Jaws, and I just can keep reading messages forever
seemingly, though, as previously described, with slight pauses when
the virtual buffer is updated.
For Twitter I actually will come out and say I like it. Rather than
having to click "more" and refresh the page with new content every 30
Tweets or whatever, I can just keep reading until I am done, this is
purely from a screen reader user perspective, not that I am
recommending the practice.
I have encountered same issues as described regarding the search with
either the screen reader's or browser's "find" functions.


On 1/10/13, Patrick H. Lauke < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
> On 10/01/2013 13:18, Léonie Watson wrote:
>> The thing I find more irritating is not being able to search for content I
>> know to be there because it hasn't made it into the virtual buffer yet.
>> For
>> example moving to an old entry on my facebook timeline.
>
> Yup, that's a general usability problem I have with the approach as well
> (just using the browser, not screenreader)
>
> P
> --
> Patrick H. Lauke
> > re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
> [latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]
>
> www.splintered.co.uk | www.photographia.co.uk
> http://redux.deviantart.com | http://flickr.com/photos/redux/
> > twitter: @patrick_h_lauke | skype: patrick_h_lauke
> > > > >

From: Greg Gamble
Date: Thu, Jan 10 2013 8:20AM
Subject: Re: Infinite scrolling and accessibility
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One of the pluses of infinite scrolling is page load size/time. It starts out being fairly small and is asynchronously added to as you scroll down. While page size may not be a problem with a plugged in desktop, it can be a factor with a wireless tablet or phone. I agree with the searching though ... that can be a pain at times.

Greg Gamble
SBCTC - Olympia | Information Services
p - 360-704-4376
 think before printing

From: Chagnon | PubCom
Date: Thu, Jan 10 2013 9:24AM
Subject: Re: Infinite scrolling and accessibility
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As a non-screen reader user, I wonder how infinite scroll affects users of
the new search engine, www.DuckDuckGo.com, which uses infinite scrolling on
its search engine results pages (SERP).

I prefer Duck Duck Go over Google and Yahoo because I don't have to click
links at the bottom of the page to view more results. It's faster for me to
continue scrolling through a long list of potential results.

But I'm interested in hearing how this affects screen reader users.

And if you haven't heard about Duck Duck Go, it's created by an independent
developer who doesn't track your clicks or search history, so it's a better
option for those concerned about privacy and data. Their details:
http://donttrack.us/ (I don't see Alt-text or null tags on the graphics, but
they're only visual puns on the text, which succinctly says it all.)

- Bevi Chagnon
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
www.PubCom.com - Trainers, Consultants, Designers, Developers.
Print, Web, Acrobat, XML, eBooks, and U.S. Federal Section 508
Accessibility.
New schedule for classes and workshops coming this fall and winter.
- It's our 31st year! -

From: deborah.kaplan@suberic.net
Date: Thu, Jan 10 2013 9:53AM
Subject: Re: Infinite scrolling and accessibility
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Bevi,

I am a voice user but not a screen reader user, and Duck Duck Go
-- my goto search engine -- is the only site where I don't hate
infinite scroll. I think it's because it is so easy to turn off
certain functions on their site without breaking the overall
site. Most sites that implement infinite scroll also implement
other JavaScript features that break the site for me as a
voice/keyboard user, such as field capture of the focus, or that
horrible thing Google does where it captures every keystroke.

Duck Duck Go has this small, reasonable set of JavaScript
features that doesn't override other functionality I would want.
There is infinite scroll, and there is the ability to arrow key
down to select your result. There is nothing else which
bothers me. Moreover, you can fine-tune all of their settings
(<https://duckduckgo.com/settings>), and because of their privacy
policy, I don't mind letting them save my fine tuned settings.

-Deborah
--
Accessibility Team Co-lead
Dreamwidth Studios LLC

From: Steve Green
Date: Thu, Jan 10 2013 8:16PM
Subject: Re: Infinite scrolling and accessibility
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My objections to infinite scrolling don't relate to the accessibility of the infinite content itself and the fact that it is continuously appended to. The main issues include:

1. If you scroll down an infinite page, click a link, then return to the initial page, it reloads at the top again. You may need to scroll down to where you were before, if you can find it.

This compares with the normal browser behaviour whereby the scroll position of a page is remembered when you use the Back button to return to it. The workaround is to always open links in new windows or tabs, but it's so easy to forget.

2. You cannot control the speed of scrolling. You may know that the content you want to get to is 20 screen heights down the page, but you have to wait an eternity for the content to be fed in slowly till the bit you are interested in appears. Worse still, the nice smooth addition of new content intentionally happens much slower than normal page rendering.

This compares with normal browser behaviour where even a long page typically renders in a few seconds and you can drag the scrollbar to wherever you want.

3. In the case of search results or timelines, you often don't know how many results there are until you get to the end. This makes it impossible to apply a sensible search strategy. For instance if there are 20 results for a search I will adopt a different strategy than if there were 2000 or 2000000.

4. With infinite scrolling you can't skip chunks of irrelevant content.

5. When using keyboard navigation it can be difficult to tab into the right-hand column (assuming the infinite content is in the left-hand column). On a fast connection new content may be fed in faster than you can hit the tab key, especially if the content contains a large number of links. (as is the case with LinkedIn 'You might know...' pages).

6. Finding content that you viewed previously can be very difficult once a page is more than a few screen heights long. You can't even make mental notes like "there's something interesting halfway down the page" because it won't be halfway down the page when the page becomes longer.

By contrast, if content is paginated you can remember there is something interesting on pages 3, 7 and 26 because they won't change.

A common factor in these issues is the lack of control that you have. The designer is basically saying "this is how you are going to interact with my content" and there's nothing you can do about it. That's not how the web is supposed to work.

Steve Green

-----Original Message-----
From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = [mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
Sent: 10 January 2013 16:53
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Infinite scrolling and accessibility

Bevi,

I am a voice user but not a screen reader user, and Duck Duck Go
-- my goto search engine -- is the only site where I don't hate infinite scroll. I think it's because it is so easy to turn off certain functions on their site without breaking the overall site. Most sites that implement infinite scroll also implement other JavaScript features that break the site for me as a voice/keyboard user, such as field capture of the focus, or that horrible thing Google does where it captures every keystroke.

Duck Duck Go has this small, reasonable set of JavaScript features that doesn't override other functionality I would want.
There is infinite scroll, and there is the ability to arrow key down to select your result. There is nothing else which bothers me. Moreover, you can fine-tune all of their settings (<https://duckduckgo.com/settings>), and because of their privacy policy, I don't mind letting them save my fine tuned settings.

-Deborah
--
Accessibility Team Co-lead
Dreamwidth Studios LLC