We’ve had some really useful feedback

We’ve had some really useful feedback from the British Computer Association of the Blind on the accessibility of digress.it. Here’s what they have to say:

The website looks as though it has some good accessibility built in, but the
JavaScript it uses isn’t particularly accessible. To fully understand, it would be
worth getting the site audited against a recognised benchmark such as the Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines:

The JavaScript doesn’t seem to be keyboard/screen reader friendly, particularly
on the comments pages. If the jQuery libraries have been used out of the box, it’s
likely they’ll need adapting.

Form fields will also need text labels associating with them. Guidance on
creating accessible forms can be found here:

It’s great to see that ARIA landmarks have been used. If the main landmark could
be applied consistently across all pages, it would help people rely on it as a means
of navigation. Adding in more landmarks, particularly for search and navigation,
would also help.

IE6 and IE7 make up an enormous chunk of the browser market. Most IE6 users are
within the corporate and public sectors, where upgrading isn’t an option because of
organisational policy.

Representing the full visual design can sometimes be difficult for these
browsers, particularly IE6. In this case though, that doesn’t look as though it
should be the case.

The general building blocks of the website are good. The separation of
presentation from content has been done well, and the code is reasonably clean.
Headings, lists and other standard elements have all been used well.
My notes:

The digress.it theme is based on the default theme for WordPress (‘Kubrick’), which is considered a solid and accessible design which many themes are built on. digress.it has also been consciously developed to be relatively easily styled using CSS.

Accessibility has been a constant, though admittedly secondary, requirement in the JISCPress project and Eddie has made specific efforts to improve the accessibility of the plugin over the original CommentPress. I believe digress.it is partially using the ‘accessible jquery’ library, too. I’ll be looking at the WCAG2 document and reviewing, as best as I can, the areas of improvement that can still be made.

One Reply to “We’ve had some really useful feedback”

  1. Accessibility:
    Keyboard navigation is reasonably easy to implement. What I’m thinking is on the table of contents page, up and down keys choose the paragraph you want, hitting enter takes you there. On document pages, up and down highlights a paragraph, pressing right will move you to the comment box, left will move you back. Inside the comment box up and down will move through the comments and hitting tab will take you to the first input box (name).

    With Javascript disabled you don’t get the chance to comment at all currently. This can be rectified by having a comment box at the bottom of the page wrapped in a tag.

    If you disable CSS (and JavaScript) then the page is mess and this is how screen readers will see it. Inline comments would solve this issue and as would inserting the cite links and the clickable comment links via JavaScript.

    The theme for Digress.it will be based on the Blueprint CSS library which supports IE5.5+, and jQuery itself supports IE5.5+ so as long as we implement a base style which improves if you’re using a modern browser (graded browser support, see http://boagworld.com/design/a-demonstration-of-graded-browser-support for a good example) then I don’t think anyone can complain.

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