Accessibility Blog Posts

International Assistance Dog Week 2022

Happy International Assistance Dog Week! It’s that time of year to give our special helping hounds a big round of applause. International Assistance Dog Week gives a massive thank you to all the dedicated service dogs that provide support for individuals with disabilities and other medical conditions as they navigate daily life. Here at PowerMapper, we would also like to give particular recognition to the trainers who dedicate so much time to training these dogs.

Website accessibility: disability statistics

This post is a compilation of disability statistics from government agencies and researchers in the US, UK and Canada. The statistics shown have most impact on website use, and help assess the impact of accessibility problems, in terms of numbers of people affected, and likely commercial impact. Incidence of key disabilities Reading difficulties Up to 10% of people in the US have reading difficulties, including dyslexia (source: University of Michigan). A study in 2009 by Cass Business School found that around 20% of UK entrepreneurs and 35% of US entrepreneurs are dyslexic (Bill Gates and Richard Branson are textbook examples).

Government accessibility standards and WCAG 2

This posting summarizes some detailed research into the state of government accessibility standards around the world, as of March 2016. Usually these evolve fairly slowly, although the Jodhan vs. Attorney General of Canada case may change that (governments don’t like being successfully sued by their citizens). In general, these standards apply to government agency websites (and not commercial web sites) with the exception of Australia and Norway where commercial sites are also required to comply.

Accessibility, search engines and social media: how they overlap

Search engines can’t see and can’t click, so there’s a big overlap between making sites accessible and making sites perform well in search engines. Social media also uses several features that improve accessibility.

Layout table vs data table detection

Summary The table element in HTML is not always treated as a table by assistive technology. Historically HTML tables have been misused for layout. Before the introduction of CSS Grid in 2017 there was no reliable CSS method to layout HTML on a grid, so tables were often used instead (and some legacy browsers still don’t support CSS Grid). This means there are two types of table: Data tables containing data where rows and columns have meaning (e.

Prioritizing accessibility fixes

Often scanning a large site finds a large number of issues. What’s the best way to fix these? Fix template issues Issues in page templates are often repeated on every page on a site, so fixing these has the maximum benefit. Template issues often affect site navigation, so even fixing minor issues has positive impact for users trying to navigate around the site. It’s not uncommon for template issues to account for 50% of the issues by volume, so fixing a single page template can resolve half of the issues found.

Screen reader tests - January 2020

We’ve just released a new batch of screen reader test results. We started testing screen reader support for accessibility features in 2012. Since then we’ve run over 10,000 individual tests covering 54 browser and screen reader combinations. New tests in this release cover: NVDA 2019 with Chrome, Firefox and IE11 JAWS 2019 with Chrome, Firefox and IE11 VoiceOver with Safari on macOS 10.14 and iOS 12 This is the first release with tests results for Chrome.

Screen reader tests - April 2019

A new batch of screen reader test results is now available. New tests in this release cover: NVDA 2018 with Firefox and IE11 JAWS 2018 with Firefox and IE11 VoiceOver with Safari on macOS 10.13 and iOS 11 A key finding is aria-label no longer works when reading links in JAWS 2018 with Firefox 60, but did work in previous versions of JAWS and Firefox as far back as 2012.

Waiting for Section 508: a tragicomedy in 10 acts

Update - January 2017 On January 5th, 2017 the US Access Board announced that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) cleared the Section 508 Refresh, with the compliance deadline set for January 18, 2018. Introduction Welcome to a series of articles on accessibility laws, standards, and statistics around the globe. These articles will help web professionals to understand accessibility legislation within a wider policy context. Every accessibility law has both strengths and weaknesses which can offer valuable lessons for other countries and systems.

European accessibility law in 2016

Accessibility professionals can look forward to the passage of two European laws pertaining to web accessibility: the public sector accessibility directive and the European Accessibility Act. Both of these laws will bring much-needed clarity to the drive towards better accessibility in Europe. There are, however, a number of issues which will need to be resolved before the laws can be allowed to achieve their full potential.

Screen reader detection - pros and cons

This article explores both sides of a longstanding debate: should screen readers be detectable in analytics? It’s an issue that pits accessibility against privacy, with legal complications thrown in for fun. When these aspects are taken into consideration, screen reader detection emerges as a technique which carries serious technical, ethical and privacy risks. Analytics Designers and developers live for analytics data. We can spend hours digging into fascinating insights on everything from shopping cart abandonment to social media conversions to browser use.

Table cell header calculation for AT

Summary This post describes how table cell headers for screen-readers are calculated. TH with SCOPE=ROW or SCOPE=COL is unambiguous and widely supported TD with SCOPE is non-conforming in HTML 5, and is ignored as a header on some browsers (works in Apple WebKit, but ignored in Chromium WebKit). On tables with headers in the top row, or first column, TH without SCOPE usually works. TD HEADERS is problematic because it assumes a single list of headers for each cell, but accessibility APIs expose row and column headers as separate properties On any other table, TH without SCOPE produces wildly varying results.

How disabilities affect website use

This post follows on from the one on Disability Statistics, and shows how the most common disabilities affect website use.

Christmas cards for people with limited vision

Well, it’s that time of year again. While I consider myself one of life’s formidably organised Christmas present buyers (I started in August) I seem to fall sadly short when it comes to finding the time to write and post my Christmas cards. I know that to many, card writing seems an outmoded way of sending Christmas greetings, but for many of my ageing relatives, some of whom now live alone, a hand written card arriving in the mail is still much appreciated.

Having something to say beats slick presentation

Today is World Stroke Day, which aims to raise awareness of the condition. Earlier this week I saw a conference keynote speech by Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovators Dilemma and a Professor at Harvard Business School. He introduced himself by apologizing for hesitating while speaking because he'd suffered a stroke a few months earlier. In spite of this he was an engaging speaker - much better than the other professional conference speakers.

Can website accessibility declarations be trusted?

The Design for All Research Group at Middlesex University have produced a report called Declaring conformance on web accessibility asking the question: can website accessibility declarations be trusted? Sadly the conclusion was no, for both self-declared and third-party certifications, confirming the findings of earlier studies. Using a sample of 100 European government and commercial sites claiming accessibility standards conformance, more than 95% were found to have accessibility issues. The study used our automated tool, SortSite, in conjunction with manual testing performed by the accessibility group at the Shaw Trust (see the report for details on methodology).

Giving accessible presentations

A few days ago I attended a presentation given by some UK Government departments - the main topic was providing equality of access to government contracts. There was the usual torrent of PowerPoint slides filled with facts, figures and addresses of websites which publish government contracts.  At the end of the presentations the question and answer session started: Chief Official: "Does anyone have any questions?" Lady in Audience: "Will any of the slides be available after the meeting?