Is user testing more important than following WAI guidelines? A discussion on user testing and aspects of web development such as accessible forms, tables, skip links, source order and structural labels.
Solution 1: Link from heading, descriptive links, hide sections if necessary. http://www.maxdesign.com.au/presentation/more-links/
Lesson 2: content blending Semantic markup is not necessarily enough.
Solution 2: Structural headings - headings that describe sections of the page. http://www.maxdesign.com.au/2006/01/17/about-structural-labels/
Lesson 3: form confusion When forms do not use correct form elements, confusion can follow.
Solution 3: Use correct form elements. <label for=“add” >Label here</label> <input name=”add" id=“add” type="text" />
Another rude awakening Watching a screen magnifier user in action.
Lesson 4: Dropdown hell Dropdowns and fly-out menus can be totally inaccessible for some users.
Solution 4: Avoid dropdown and fly-out menus altogether. They negatively affect many groups
Lesson 5: images for content When enlarged, images can become unreadable.
Solution 5: Avoid images for important content.
Seeing is believing Watching users in action is vital for web designers, developers and managers.
When in doubt - test If you are unsure about a page or function – sit down with specific user groups and test!
Don’t believe the hype There are many urban myths circulating the web. Testing is the only way to check and document.
Some of our tests 1. Cognitive impairment 2. Data tables 3. Source order, skip links and structural headings
Cognitive impairment “People with cognitive disabilities and learning disorders are a relatively large proportion of the disabled population and often overlooked or ignored . Their needs are very hard to meet through a website – not just a matter of design, markup and CSS. You also need to get commitment from site owners to re-write the content in a more appropriate way.” http://juicystudio.com/article/cognitive-impairment.php
Data Tables “The id and headers attributes are the most effective way to make complex data tables accessible. Although slightly more difficult to code than scope, the apparent poor screen reader support for scope, and its lack of support for more than two levels of heading , means that this is probably not an effective accessibility option.” http://usability.com.au/resources/tables.cfm
Source order “Most screen reader users expect navigation to be presented before content. There appears to be little evidence to support the view that screen reader users would prefer content first, or find sites easier to use when this occurs.” http://usability.com.au/resources/source-order.cfm
Skip links “Many experienced users do not need skip links. But less experienced screen reader users are likely to find skip links useful for moving directly to specific sections of the page. In our opinion, websites should continue to provide visible skip links at the top of pages.”
Structural labels “All of the research participants found the structural labels to be useful. The inclusion of structural labels seems to be an effective and relatively simple solution to the significant problem some screen reader users have in identifying the different elements on a page.”
A conclusion While guidelines and checklists are important, it is also vital to observe real users in action .