Optimizing Library Resources for Screen Readers


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Concurrent session from the 2008 LITA National Forum in Cincinnati

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Optimizing Library Resources for Screen Readers

  1. 1. Optimizing Library Resources for Screen Readers<br />Nina McHale<br />Assistant Professor, Web Librarian <br />Auraria Library/University of Colorado Denver<br />LITA National Forum, October 2008<br />
  2. 2. Our Agenda<br />So what? Why does it matter?<br />General Review of Accessibility Standards (508/WCAG)<br />Putting Web Standards to Work: <br />Validation tools<br />Common problems that drive users crazy<br />JAWS Demonstration<br />Your Game Plan for Accessibility<br />
  3. 3. What this Presentation is:<br />A review of Web accessibility standards<br />A demonstration of what a screen reader sounds like and how it acts while surfing the Web<br />A call to action to those present to educate themselves and their colleagues in issues surrounding Web accessibility<br />
  4. 4. What this Presentation is NOT:<br />Comprehensive training in accessible Web design<br />Comprehensive training in Section 508 or WCAG compliance<br />Comprehensive training in use of screen reader software<br />Inclusive of all of the kinds of disabilities that our patrons may have<br />
  5. 5. So what? Why does it matter?<br />The American Foundation for the Blind estimates that:<br />10 million people in the US are blind or visually impaired<br />1.3 million people are legally blind<br />People with learning and physical disabilities use screen readers as well<br />Legal implications of Section 508: AFB vs. Target<br />Universal Design: Writing good code is good practice, and makes it more accessible to all<br />
  6. 6. Initiatives in Higher Education<br />Metropolitan State College of Denver Media Accessibility Committee<br />National Center on Disability and Access to Education (http://ncdae.org)<br />
  7. 7. Why is Accessibility an Issue?<br />Because the increasingly graphic nature of the Web has made using it more difficult for people with visual disabilities to use<br />Because Web browsers are too forgiving of bad code<br />HTML doesn’t have to be perfect to display correctly to a sighted person<br />Because library Web pages tend to be home-grown<br />
  8. 8. Web Accessibility Standards Makers<br />The Federal Government<br />Section 508, Subpart B, §1194.22, a-p<br />16 recommendations<br />World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)<br />The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <br />Priority 1: checkpoints must be satisfied<br />Priority 2: checkpoints should be satisfied<br />Priority 3: checkpoints may be satisfied<br />
  9. 9. 508 vs. WCAG: What’s the difference?<br />508 is mostly based on WCAG<br />508=WCAG Priority 1 plus five other rules (l-p)<br />Following WCAG is voluntary<br />Section 508 compliance is enforceable by law<br />Jim Thatcher, “Side by Side WCAG vs. 508”<br />Which should I use?<br />Presenter recommends 508<br />
  10. 10. Putting Web Standards to Work<br />The first step in making your library’s Web presence more usable to all patrons is ensuring that the code behind it is standards-compliant and accessible<br />There are free Web-based validation tools available to check different kinds of Web content <br />Check and recheck your Web content often (after redesigns, upgrades, etc.) <br />
  11. 11. Free Validation Tools<br />World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)<br />For HTML: http://validator.w3.org/<br />For CSS: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/<br />Cynthia Says: validates for accessibility<br />http://www.cynthiasays.com<br />Allows one to generate a detailed report of code errors based on a choice of 508, WCAG Priority 1, 1-2, or 1-3<br />Jennifer Kyrnin, “How to Use an Accessibility Validator” (now a bit outdated, but useful)<br />
  12. 12. Don’t fear the results!<br />Report text can be difficult to interpret at first, but refer to the line numbers and check your document carefully<br />Often, there are a number of simple, repeated code mistakes that will take only a few minutes to correct, such as:<br />Closing tags<br />Improperly nested elements<br />
  13. 13. Common—and Irritating!—Problems<br />No alternatives for visual elements (photos, graphics, etc.)<br />Poor document structure<br />This refers to the internal, HTML structure<br />Reminder: it can look good to a sighted user, but it may still not sound good!<br />Repetitive navigation<br />
  14. 14. Problem 1: No alternatives for visual elements <br />Web designers use images and photos to increase the visual appeal of, and sometimes to structure, Web pages<br />If no alternative to the information provided in the image or photo exists, users of screen readers to not have access to that information<br />Corresponding standards:<br />WCAG Checkpoint 1.1 (Priority 1)<br />508 Subpart B, §1194.22, paragraph a<br />
  15. 15. Solutions:<br />Use <alt> and <longdesc> tags wisely<br />Keep <alt> descriptions short and sweet<br />Use <longdesc> to include a link to a .txt file that describes the content (i.e., a graph)<br />Minimize the use of images for decoration and document structure; use CSS to structure and add decorative elements to your Web pages<br />
  16. 16. Problem 2: Poor Document Structure<br />Computer users with visual disabilities must use screen reader software to “scan” a Web page quickly for the information that they want.<br />Poorly-structured documents do not provide good “scannable” content<br />Corresponding standards:<br />508 Subpart B, §1194.22, paragraph c<br />WCAG Priority 2 Checkpoints: 3.5, 12.3, 12.4, 13.1 <br />WCAG Priority 3 Checkpoints: 9.4<br />
  17. 17. Solution 2<br />Make appropriate use of header <h1-6> and paragraph <p> tags<br />Nest header tags correctly: <h1> is highest level<br />Avoid using <br /><br /> to double space<br />Make hyperlink text meaningful<br />Bad: “Click here!”; hyperlinked footnotes<br />Good: “Click here for more information about…”<br />Label forms (including search boxes) correctly<br />Patrick Griffiths, “Accessible Forms”<br />
  18. 18. Problem 3: Repetitive Navigation <br />Good Web design requires consistent page design and navigation throughout a Web site<br />Sighted users can easily ignore these repeated elements; screen readers cannot, since they “follow the flow” of the HTML document (left to right, top to bottom)<br />Corresponding standard:<br />508 Subpart B, §1194.22, paragraph o<br />
  19. 19. Solution 3: Skip Navigation Links<br />Provide “Skip Navigation” or “Jump” Links<br />Place a link near the top of your template:<br /><a href=“#content”>skip navigation</a><br />…to a named anchor at the start of the page content:<br /> <a name="content" id="content"></a><br />Jim Thatcher, “Skip Navigation Links”<br />
  20. 20. Solution 3A:<br />If your web pages use only CSS for layout, you may be able to surmount this issue with careful ordering of your <div>s<br />Place the <div> that contains the code for site navigation at the bottom of your (X)HTML document, and position it as desired on screen with CSS<br />
  21. 21. JAWS 9.0 for Windows<br />Professional version: $1095<br />Standard version: $895<br />Site license/school district pricing available<br />Free trial mode available; Windows must restart after 45 minutes<br />Vendor: Freedom Scientific<br />Top competitor: Window-Eyes<br />
  22. 22. JAWS Demo: What You’ll Hear<br />The percent of the page loaded announced<br />The number of frames, links, headings, and forms on the web page being read announced<br />The word “edit” when JAWS encounters a form/search box<br />Now close your eyes…<br />
  23. 23. Demo links <br />Dr. Mudd Museum web page:<br />http://library.auraria.edu/~nmchale/mudd/<br />Auraria Library inaccessible page:<br />http://library.auraria.edu/~nmchale/presentations/lita2008/accessible.htm<br />Auraria Library more accessible page:<br />http://library.auraria.edu /~nmchale/presentations/lita2008/inaccessible.htm<br />
  24. 24. Fangs Emulator: Firefox Extension<br />Produces a print transcript similar to the voice output of screen readers<br />Download: http://sourceforge.net/projects/fangs/ <br />To create a transcript for a web page:<br />Open Firefox<br />Browse to the Web page you wish to test<br />Tools => Fangs <br />
  25. 25. Fangs Emulator Sample Output<br />
  26. 26. The Random “Don’t!” Slide<br />Don’t use meta refresh or other code tricks to refresh catalog or Web site pages; visually impaired users may need extra time to get through the information on the screen.<br />Don’t craft beautiful new accessible templates for your Web site and then forget to train library staff in accessibility basics (<alt> tags, meaningful hyperlink text, etc.)<br />
  27. 27. Getting Buy-In in the Library<br />“But coding with web standards…<br />…makes boring, ugly Web pages!”<br />…takes too much time!”<br />…costs too much!”<br />Insert excuse of your choice here<br />Karl Dubost, “My Web site is standard! And yours?”<br />
  28. 28. About the OPAC and the databases…<br />The majority of vendor-created library products are NOT accessible by 508/WCAG standards<br />Next Generation Catalogs are especially problematic <br />Peggy Shaughnessy, “Advocating for Accessibility in the Next Generation Catalog”<br />Try using Library subscription resources with screen reader software<br />Vibiana Bowman, “Reading Between the Lines: An Evaluation of WindowEyes Screen Reader…”<br />
  29. 29. Your Game Plan:<br />Make library site code valid, if it’s not already<br />Download the JAWS demo and/or Firefox Fangs emulator to test<br />Involve patrons who use screen readers in usability testing and/or long-term planning<br />Get buy-in from others (Dubost article)<br />Advocate for accessible products from vendors (Shaughnessy article)<br />
  30. 30. A Final Thought<br />“Sometimes I think sighted people <br />have handicaps of their own. Vision <br />can be very deceptive.”<br />-Pat Laing, computer programmer and JAWS user<br />
  31. 31. Questions?<br /> Nina McHale<br />nina.mchale@ucdenver.edu<br />http://library.auraria.edu/~nmchale/<br />