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Cover image for Are you satisfied with the accessibility on the web?

Are you satisfied with the accessibility on the web?

adrianbdesigns profile image Adrian Bece ・1 min read

During my career, I was rarely asked to implement accessibility improvements, and even when I did, it was just to add a missing alt or add aria labels. I never had a chance to work on an accessibility feature in order to really change and improve the UX for people with disabilities.

So my question is primarily for people who rely heavily on accessibility features, but also to anyone else who wants to share any experience or advice on working on significant accessibility improvements.

The full question is:

Are you satisfied with the current state of accessibility on the web and what can we do to make your browsing experience easier?

and

How to approach the planning and implementation of accessibility features of a website or a web app?

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adrianbdesigns profile

Adrian Bece

@adrianbdesigns

React, Frontend, Magento 2 certified developer. Magento PWA Studio contributor. Rock and metal music fan. Reads Dune, sci-fi novels and Calvin & Hobbes. Creates amazing interfaces @ prototyp.digital

Discussion

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As somebody with no disabilities: no.
I already often have issues using and navigating websites. Readability is often fixed by turning on the browser's reader mode. But a lot of websites have unclear action elements, and are riddled with annoying pop-overs and browser prompts.
Simple is generally better. Static content is generally better than dynamic (things that move around on your screen)

 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

I admit that it's tempting to go overboard with animations and cool effects to make your website as unique as possible. We definitely need to consider how these animations affect people with disabilities and their browsing experience.

Off the top of your head, which websites you find the most usable?

 

Slashdot for example. It's design is quite clean and simple. But most important, there is surprise on the interactive elements.
When scrolling on the site everything stays where it is. It even has proper keyboard navigation (although that requires reading the manual).

Dev.to is also good. There are a bunch of confusing interaction parts. But they are non-destructive. Like pressing the (?) when writing an article, it hides your editor which might seem like you did the horrible thing of navigating way and losing all your input. Or hovering over your avatar in the upper right produces a drop-down. But clicking on it suddenly dims the page.

Note, I do browse with adblockers. So I'm not sure how terrible websites become without those.

I had the same thoughts about the "?" button when I was writing the first few of my posts. And I never clicked on my avatar to see the page dim, that's curious.

I will check out Slashdot more in-depth and see what I can learn and apply to my everyday work.

 

No, and I don't even really have anything that would be a significant disability by most people's standards (astigmatism plus myopia (and light sensitivity and nystagmus if I'm particularly stressed out)).

Just to name a few things off the top of my head that I, as a 'normal' user have issues with:

  • Pages locking out zoom functionality, especially on mobile (a lot of apps lack it too, but that's not an excuse for me to need to turn on the magnifier on my phone to be able to actually read your website).
  • Nonsensical tab-index ordering. I often navigate primarily with a keyboard, and I come across sites regularly which will have really odd tab-index ordering that doesn't even correlate with logical parsing order of the page, let alone visible layout (for example, a nav bar that has all the tabs out of order when going by tab index).
  • Unintuitive interactions all over the place. See for example that you can get a permalink to a comment here on DEV by clicking on the date in the top right of the comment, but there's nothing indicating that that's the case. Or all the places on many sites where there's a link or button that is styled to look just like the surrounding (non-interactive) text.
  • Excessive use of the beforeunload event in cases where it's not needed, though part of this is an issue with Chrome (removing all of your event listeners for the vent does not reliably prevent Chrome from showing the popup anyway).
  • Lack of state preservation in the event of accidentally navigating away from the page (fixing this would remove most of the need for beforeunload). This one isn't even a hard one to fix either, it's literally a few dozen lines of JS plus some way to serialize your state.
  • Dark themes that have insanely high contrast. Not just an issue with the web, but theming in general. White on black is, for many people, actually rather hard on the eyes. Same goes for using washed out pastel colors for your dark theme instead of properly saturated colors (I'm looking at you Android 10). Ideal dark themes in terms of accessibility are more akin to DEV's night theme, albeit ideally without the heavy bias towards blue.

Given enough time, I could name dozens of other issues, but I'll just stop there for now...

 

Thank you for the detailed comment.

It's also true that people with no disabilities can also have a bad browsing experience due to bad accessibility. It's interesting to see that overlap and what issues are shared between people with disabilities and people without disabilities. For example, how you prefer to navigate websites with your keyboard and people who only can browse the site with keyboard due to their disability.

 

No.

Especially in french government services, and public services (take Unice's subscription form, which "doesn't work on phones, tablets, big screens such as TVs", or La Caf's login form, on which you need 4+ steps to log in using a normal flow).

 

Government sites should be accessible by default. That is indeed a large problem. We have the same issue with most of the Croatian government sites as well.

 

Most public tech infrastructures are going to the lowest bidder, which effectively sucks because it means we most of the time end up with a pile of crap on something that should have high requirements.