Laine’s AT Corner

CSUN 2018 – Recap

I just returned from the 33rd annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference – a week of learning, sharing and networking. The international audience provides many opportunities to experience innovative ideas and gain a greater insight into what it is that people need and want, in terms of assistive technology.

The conference is evolving into an accessibility conference; I think that the decreasing number of specialized venders displaying wares in the vender hall and the greater presence of companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Adobe speaks to the increased use of main-stream technologies by people with disabilities. I was encouraged by the number of developers, designers and programmers present. I think this speaks to the fact that they get it; they’ve been listening!

As I explore the accessibility space in greater depth, working to find my place in this ever-changing landscape, I took 2 major things away from the conference:

  • The powers that be understand the value of manual and user testing
  • Test with NVDA

My 2-major take-aways from the vender hall were:

  • Wearables are in, and going to stay this time
  • There are fewer assistive technologies and more accessibility services

I am grateful for the opportunity to have attended this year; for the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest in the industry; and for the reinforcement that what we do makes a difference, that the powers that be are listening.

Accessibility Feature Highlight – Facebook Navigation Assistant and Keyboard Shortcuts

Discussion & Resources

One of our most common training requests is related to using Facebook with a screen reader. And, one of the most frequent questions I find myself answering is, “What is the best way to access Facebook, do I need an iPhone like others suggest?”. This is one of the most tough questions, and training requests because Facebook is constantly changing! Fortunately, Facebook seems to be changing for the better, as far as access to users of assistive technologies are concerned.

Historically the complex web of different sections and dynamic, ever-changing, content, has made the standard facebook.com site difficult for users of screen reading technology. This caused many users to use the m.facebook.com site, which often meant that they sacrificed access to the variety of features that make Facebook such a useful social network. Others turned to the Apps on their mobile devices. The mobile devices seem to provide greater access to many of the useful features of Facebook, but the native methods of using a screen reader often turns the experience into a long and drawn out exercise in tedium.

In an article, “Facebook AX Navbar” curated by Marcy Sutton on the A11yWins Tumbler page the Accessibility Navbar and its benefits are described. And, on the Facebook Accessibility Help page the keyboard shortcuts are listed, and the Accessibility Navbar previously referenced, which Facebook calls the “Navigation Assistant” is explained.

To get the most out of the new accessibility features however many users are having to change the way they think about interacting with web pages. Facebook is evolving into a Web App, or program accessed via a web browser, kind of like Google Docs, except the function is networking rather than document creation. Further, users may have to do some advanced configuration to their screen reader so that they have the experiential outcome as described by Facebook.

Tips for JAWS Users

In JAWS 2018 the Allow Web Application Reserved Keystrokes is enabled by default. This means that when you go to facebook.com you should be able to use any of the keyboard shortcuts, as defined by Facebook, even if they conflict with JAWS keystrokes, (e.g. the Letter “J” usually opens a Jump to Line Dialog Box, but on the Facebook page it will move among stories in the newsfeed).

If Facebook keyboard Shortcuts do not work as expected, you may consider checking the JAWS Setting Center to confirm that the option to allow web application reserved keystrokes is checked by doing the following:

  1. Press MODIFIER + 6 to open the JAWS Settings Center. Focus will be in the “Search” edit box.
  2. Type the following, without quotes, “web app”. A list of two items containing the search terms will appear.
  3. Press the DOWN ARROW repeatedly, pausing after each press to listen to the item in focus, to move focus among the results.
  4. When focus reaches the item that reads, “Allow Web Application Reserved Keystrokes” listen for the announcement regarding the status of the control (i.e. check box checked or checkbox not checked).
  5. If you miss the announcement, press either MODIFIER + UP ARROW or MODIFIER + TAB to have JAWS re-read the option in focus.
  6. If the status of the control is identified as, “not checked” press the SPACEBAR to check it followed by TAB, twice, to move focus to the OK Button and ENTER to activate it and save the changes.
  7. If JAWS indicates the status of the control as, “checked” press ESCAPE to close the Settings Center and note that you may need to contact someone for assistance.

Disable the Virtual PC Cursor – Yes, I said disable the very JAWS feature that often gives you access to information on a web page! While it is not necessary to disable the PC Cursor to use the Facebook keyboard shortcuts the experience is a bit less stressful if you do. For example, the Letter “J” is used to move among the stories in your news feed. If you press the keystroke, while the Virtual PC Cursor is on, focus moves to the start of an “article” or “post but doesn’t read it. You must then USE the DOWN ARROW or CTRL + DOWN ARROW to read the post. This also means listening to controls such as, “story options button menu” and others. If you disable the Virtual PC Cursor and press the Letter “J” to move among the posts on your newsfeed JAWS will not only move focus to the post, but also read it, without causing you to navigate other elements on the page. If you want to read through the text of the post word-by-word or letter-by-letter then leaving the Virtual PC Cursor may be your preferred method, but most users just want to hear the content of the post and avoid the extraneous element information.

Facebook Keyboard Shortcuts – Interacting with the Newsfeed

  • J: Move forward through Newsfeed stories
  • K: Move backward through Newsfeed stories
  • ENTER: See more of the story
  • P: Post a status update
  • L: Toggle a like reaction to a post on or off (unfortunately JAWS does not tell you if you “like” or “unlike” the item)
  • C: Comment on a post (focus will move directly to the comment field, and you can begin typing. ENTER will post the comment)
  • S: Share a post (a menu with sharing options appears. Use the UP/DOWN ARROW Keys to move among the options in the menu and ENTER to activate the desired option)
  • O: Open an attachment in a post (the link in the page will open in a new tab and if you disabled the Virtual PC Cursor it will be enabled again)
  • SLASH (/): To move directly to the search box, and begin a search
  • Q: To search contacts to chat with (focus will move to a search field. After a name is types results will appear in a list. UP/DOWN ARROW will move among the results. ENTER is used to start a chat with the contact in the list that is in focus. If a contact is selected, with ENTER, focus moves to an edit box where your message can be typed. There is more involved in working with messaging. ESCAPE will close the chat search and return focus to the Newsfeed)
  • QUESTION MARK (?): Open the list of keyboard shortcuts (it is necessary to enable the Virtual PC Cursor, then move focus to the level 3 heading at the bottom of the page to access the list that appears. ESCAPE will close the list)

Enjoy your new facebook.com experience!

Web Accessibility Highlight: Making Screen Readers Personal

in his recent article, A Tale of Two Rooms Ryan Jones uses a great analogy of entering a room, and the strategies one would use to scan the room before entering, to explain how screen reader users often engage with web pages. The implication is that the experience of a screen reader user is similar to the experience one would have using only a flash light, with a narrow beam of light, to scan a dark room before entering. Who can’t relate to this?

I often use similar analogies when conducting disability awareness, and assistive technology, awareness trainings. One of my personal favorites is asking the audience to try to imagine their pantry, and how they might find something in it if, say, there were no light, or only a small pin light to review the contents of the pantry. I usually open the presentation for discussion, and allow audience members to talk about the strategies they might use and what types of environmental structures might assist them in developing functional strategies to review the contents of their pantry in the absence of light. It is far easier for many of us to problem solve the hypothetical strategies for scanning a dark room, or dark pantry, because these are every day things that we can see, smell, touch and even hear and taste; we can engage with them with all 5 senses and the experience is very similar to what screen reader users experience when navigating web pages and documents.

Happy Holidays 2017

Thank you for the tremendous support as Amoureux AT Consulting launched in October!

It is common to find ourselves reflecting on our accomplishments and contributions over the past year, as we approach these last few weeks of the year. I can say that 2017 was full of trials, that have made me wiser and stronger, and blessings, that have lifted me up and given me hope and perspective

We wish you, and yours, a happy, and safe, Holiday season. We hope to see you in 2018, and look forward to learning and growing in this life with you.

Laine

Web Accessibility Highlight: Are tools, like a magnifier or other tool that allows users to change colors, on my website required for compliance?

This question is asked, in many ways, in nearly every presentation I conduct. I have yet to find any documentation that indicates providing server-side add-ons, like SiteCues from AISquared/VFO / is a mandatory requirement for accessibility compliance. Yet, many web developers are seemingly backed into a corner by individuals, and end-users, telling them they must do it.

The Web AIM, 508 Checklist provides guidance that suggests if a product is provided to allow for the adjustment of colors on a web site, the tool allow for a variety of different colors and contrast levels, but does not link to anything that states this is a must have. The Section 508 Quick Reference Guide provides details on how to make sure that this the requirement is met, if the tool is provided, but again does not specify that a such a tool must be provided in order to meet compliance standards. With this said, however, many businesses, organizations or states may have more extensive guidance regarding the addition of such tools to a website.

I think of the addition of such tools to a web site much like I think of the motorized shopping carts provided at some big box stores. You may notice the motorized carts at stores like Wal-Mart, but not in your local second-hand store. This is because they are not an absolute must-have to meet access laws for people with mobility impairments, but they are a convenient nicety for customers who may need them. If an establishment does provide motorized carts they are required to maintain them, but if they do not provide them they are not in the wrong.

As a developer, before dismissing such tools as a must-have, check state laws and organizational policies. I also encourage you to consider the demographic of people who may visit your site, and whether they can afford, or use, the, expensive and usually comprehensive, assistive technology, or even the updated computers and browsers with built-in accessibility tools or add-ons for accessing the web. As a consumer, who may benefit from the convenience of having such tools available on a website, rather than configuring, and re-configuring, your own computer and/or browser please be considerate of the developers, and understand the state laws, and organizational policies, that they must work with-in. the addition may not be a requirement that you are entitled to, but if you ask nicely they may consider the addition.

Office Accessibility Highlight: Sound Schemes

Have you ever pressed CTRL + S to save a document and wonder, “did it actualy save”? As a screen reader user have you ever wondered, “isn’t there a way to hear that the content I just deleted, or cut, from the text was actually gone, without having to navigate the text?” Many students have asked me over the years, “How can I know that it did the command?
Rejoice! Office 365 Sound Schemes now provide audible feedback for a variety of different actions. Perhaps most notably for the Save command! Once the sound feedback feature is enabled users will notice new sounds in all Office applications. So far our consumers love the cues!

Enable Sound Feedback

  1. Open any Office application.
  2. Open the File Tab. (accelerator Key: ALT + F)
  3. Activate the Option Command. (Accelerator Key: the Letter “T”.)
  4. Select the Ease of Access Category from the left-hand side of the Options Dialog Box. (Accelerator Key: the Letter “E”.)
  5. Check the box to Provide Feedback with Sound Check Box. (Accelerator Key: ALT + S)
  6. From the Sound Schemes Combo Box choose Modern or Classic sounds. (Keyboard Access: press the TAB Key once, from the Check Box. Press ALT + DOWN-ARROW to expand the options. Press the DOWN-ARROW Key repeatedly, pausing after each press to hear the selected option. With your desired scheme selected press the ENTER Key).
  7. Activate the OK Button.

Resources

For additional information visit this Office Support Page.

Hopes

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” Cesar Chavez

Through a community of Practice (COP) of users, teachers and designers we can
be the progress, and establish the prosperity, of our communities at large. It is my hope, at Amoureux AT Consulting, to facilitate the creation of one such COP. We will work together to create content that all may learn from.
Laine