Sydeny PC & Technology User Group

Web Design User Group

We Meet the third Saturday of each month
 at the Sydney Mechanics Institute 240 Pitt St Sydney from 2 pm

What we did

September 2020 Screen readers and how to make a site work for blind and vistually imparted people.

“Five most annoying website features I face as a blind person every single day.”

This month we looked at an article on what annoys blind people about web sites. We disused the an article by Holly Tuke on the “Five most annoying website features I face as a blind person every single day.”

The problem here is blind and visually impaired people rely on screen readers to hear what is contained in a website.  Here is a list of the five main areas Holly found a problem.

  1. Unlabelled links and buttons
  2. No image descriptions
  3. Poor use of headings
  4. Inaccessible web forms
  5. Auto-playing audio and video

The article starts with a look at how a screen reader works.

To quote "Screen readers read out loud everything that’s on the screen and allow people to navigate using touch gestures and shortcut keys. They also work with other output devices such as a braille display."

There is a link in that article to one on “How to write better alt-text descriptions for accessibility”

Alt text is used to describe what is in a image so a screen reader can use the description rather than simple say image. Here are the six main points made in the article

  1. Be specific and succinct
  2. Describe information, not aesthetics
  3. Think about the function of the image
  4. Use normal punctuation
  5. Leave alt-text empty for decorative images
  6. Don’t include copyright information or photo credits
  7. Don’t start with “a photo of” or “an image of”
  8. For complex images, provide further explanation elsewhere

One idea in the article was not to have a description for background images but we found that may be counter productive as the screen reader could still pick-up the existence of the image. It may be better to simply have an alt saying “background image”.

After the meeting John L sent in some comments

    Suggestions and information:
  1. Avoid words like: here, more, read more, learn more, link to [some link destination], info, go here, dead links, etc. as they are not very informative and will probably cause an accessibility alert.
  2. Don’t use the same words or phrase sequentially.
  3. I have found a cycle of the same three phrase are acceptable although not very clever.

and he found a site with great resources on Web Accessibility, particularly on this topic.

We then had a look at some of the free screen readers available

Including NVDA and the Chrome extension ChromeVox. The other one was JAWS which is free for any 40-minute session.

Steve South
Web Design leader