Accessibility. You’re doing it wrong.

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I’ve spent over a decade creating websites for a living, and only recently have I worked on a project which included some research with disabled and deaf people, observing their online habits and chatting about their needs. This has changed everything. I’m no expert (yet), but I found it fascinating, and hopefully some of the insight I gained will be useful and interesting to you, too.

A few years ago, whilst at Clearleft, I designed the website for an assistive technology provider, but any actual observational research was out of scope for the project so even then my understanding of accessibility was only hearsay. I would suggest that this is fairly typical of most website designers’ understanding of the subject, despite the fact that nearly a third of the population (in the UK) have some kind of accessibility requirements. Many of those people struggle on without knowing that things could be better, so imagine their delight if a website offered to make a transaction easier than they thought possible.

I knew, as no doubt you do, that people who had problems with their eyesight might use a screen reader so their computer reads a page aloud, or might want a high contrast version of the site (back then I hadn’t considered other colour variations for people with dyslexia or colour blindness), or may want to enlarge the text on a site to make it more legible.

I was opposed to replicating the browser’s text resize controls within the page, but I realised that people might expect those controls, so I included them as a link to instructions on how to use the browser’s own functionality instead (teaching a man to fish rather than giving him a fish, so to speak). I stand by this as A Good Idea, although I’ve never seen it done that way on other sites.

Of course, I also understood the importance of alt-text on images, skip-to-content links before navigation, and using semantically meaningful HTML. This is all well documented good practice, but watching disabled people use the web has made me realise that whilst these things are very useful, “accessibility compliance” really covers only the bare minimum we should be doing to meet disabled people’s needs. We are merely ticking the boxes rather than considering context. Rather than being user-centred.

So, earlier this year I created a prototype venue and event listing site specifically for use by people with access requirements. Listing sites are a dime a dozen, but pretty much all of them fall down when it comes to accessibility, especially in its broader sense. I worked with Lizzie Ostrom from A+E, the client was Alison Smith from Pesky People, and the site will be called Go Genie. The purpose of the prototype was to show where people’s needs aren’t currently catered for, to demonstrate our ideas to fill these gaps, and to secure funding for the site’s development.

We spent a few days with people who have a variety of visual impairments, hearing problems, learning disabilities, and motor disabilities. As we’d only enlisted a couple of dozen people for this research these are personal anecdotes rather than hard-and-fast rules – everyone has different needs, which makes addressing them all a near impossible challenge. Nevertheless, there are some enlightening observations about how disabled folk use the web and – as importantly as web accessibility – the kind of information they’re looking for online which would help them become more participatory in society. Here’s a summary of some what we learnt.

Non-disabled people
You may have noticed that I referred to “disabled and deaf people” back there. This is because people who are deaf or hard of hearing do not always consider themselves to be disabled, even though they might find accessible features helpful. Indeed, as we get older we naturally begin to have mild access needs without being “disabled” – I often use Readability to make article text larger, clearer, and uncluttered, but I don’t consider myself to be visually impaired.

Browser text resize
Just like non-power-users without access needs, disabled people don’t necessarily know what their browser can already do to help them. Don’t assume that they will know about the browser’s text resize feature just because they are the ideal target audience for it. Why isn’t there a campaign to educate people about this feature? This seems like an easier win than getting every website to implement its own text-resize controls.

OS built-in accessibility
A number of people is our observation sessions chose to use the operating system’s built-in accessibility features to customise the machine’s behaviour to their own requirements. This is worth noting, because unlike in-page contrast options or browser text resizing there’s no way that a website can know if someone is using these features, making it harder (impossible?) to gain accurate metrics of accessibility setup from your site logs. (I’m not a techie, so please correct me if I’m wrong here!)

Extreme zoom
Registered blind people often have some degree of sight. We observed that some people will zoom in so far that only a few words at a time fit on the screen, then move their face to within an inch of the monitor to read the text one word at a time, moving the screen along each line with the mouse as they go. The process is long and arduous, and highlights the need for keeping text concise and line-lengths short.

Columns and physically grouped content
This kind of extreme zooming can make it hard to find your way around even a single web page. To make this less of a burden, physically grouping similar elements on screen and arranging content in columns rather than in a staggered layout helps. I used to be of the opinion that an accessible website needn’t compromise the design of the page (because you can make it accessible with code, right?), but now I realise that accessibility is just as much about visual design patterns and layout as it is about coding style, and also content. That doesn’t mean an accessible page has to be ugly – chances are the more outlandish design would have also been unnecessarily complex in design, and therefore harder to use anyway.

Video content for people with learning disabilities
In our research, people with some learning disabilities would arrive at a website from Google and just look at the screen, and if they couldn’t see the information they were looking for then they’d assume it wasn’t there. They wouldn’t consider scrolling, or clicking on a link. Depending on the content, it would appear that providing a video version of the page would be a good solution to this because it would put all the information in one physical place on the screen (just revealed over time as the video plays). However, this brings about questions of cost, maintainability, and scalability.

If somebody tells you accessibility is free, quick and easy to implement then they’re talking about the ticking-the-boxes kind, but video is one of the things that can be expensive and time consuming to source to a professional standard. The content of most importance to people with these access requirements should be given priority for video versions, bearing in mind that if the content changes then the video would need to change too. Don’t do this kind of accessibility early in the development process if your content isn’t yet finished, and ask the producers to keep the source files for future amendments. Also worth noting that videos need captions (or sign language) for people who are hard of hearing – often this can be switched on and off in the player, so it’s not intrusive for people who don’t need it.

Access symbols
These icons are universally recognised and should be used whenever providing information for people with access needs. Note the last symbol – this isn’t just about disabled users!

Access symbols

“But half those symbols represent someone offline, and the mother-and-child aren’t even disabled. How is this relevant to the web?” I hear you say. I’m glad you asked…

Extending accessibility to include online advice about offline situations
One of the major things that struck me from this research is that disabled and deaf people often lack any confidence that real-world situations will be accessible to them, so they tend to stay home and not participate in society as much as they could. Given the power and opportunity that the web affords us, it’s sad that this remains a problem – though possibly not surprising as I wouldn’t have thought about it were it not for this research.

To give you an example, somebody in a wheelchair may never go to the cinema because they don’t know how easy it is to get to, or what the access is like when they get there.

  • Is there a train station nearby?
  • Is the cinema near any rowdy bars which may have intimidating drunks outside after the show?
  • Is there disabled parking? How far is it from the entrance?
  • What’s the terrain like from the parking to the entrance – Uphill? Downhill? Across roads?
  • Are there dropped-kerbs? Are they good quality or do they dip below the road surface causing an unexpected bump?
  • Can I sit with my friends in the cinema or is there a separate area for people in wheelchairs?
  • Is that area raised, and if so will I block the view of anyone sitting behind, and be considered an inconvenience?
  • Are there closed captions?
  • Is there an induction loop for people with hearing aids? Is it always turned on? Do the staff know how to use it?
  • Are the staff well trained in helping people with disabilities?
  • Are there concessionary prices for disabled people? What makes someone eligible for those prices? (more than one person reported being humiliated when staff doubted the authenticity of their disability, because it wasn’t visibly obvious)
  • Etc.

The list of potential questions can get very long and it’s a difficult balance between providing enough detail and providing an overwhelming amount. This information can be different for each type of venue, and at least it only has to be provided once, but unless you have infinite time and resources then a pragmatic approach to prioritising what’s important for your site is clearly the way to go. From a disabled user’s perspective, maybe a good solution is for them to tell a site what their access needs are so that the site can provide only the info relevant to them.

Putting this amount of thought into accessibility could really make the difference between someone having a great experience or never bothering at all. It’s not about just giving them the ability to read a website, these are the kinds of extra steps that could could literally change someone’s life for the better.

A footnote about Alpha.gov.uk
The Go Genie prototype consisted of an imagemap-based walkthrough of a few mocked-up pages of the site (here’s a video, starting with a clickable Go Genie widget on the Birmingham Hippodrome website), and some storyboards explaining some typical scenarios. The prototype itself was not available to the public, and wasn’t accessible of course, because it’s purpose was in part to secure the required funding to develop it with accessibility (and congrats to Alison, as Go Genie is now funded!).

In this regard there are interesting parallels to the recent Alpha.gov.uk prototype I worked on for the Cabinet Office. The purpose of the prototype was similar in many ways, but we took the extra step of making it available to most of the public. Despite the fact that we used semantically meaningful markup, skip-to-content links, alt-text on images, correctly labelled form elements, and added the caveat that we knew accessibility was one of the many things on the site that was unfinished in the incredibly short amount of time we’d had, we still received some very hostile criticism from some accessibility advocates for daring to release something (even a demo) that wasn’t totally accessible.

That’s a real shame – the team want to seek external advice on the matter, but it’s also a natural human reaction to want to avoid aggression and seek constructive and helpful criticism instead. I’m sure that as ever it’s only a vocal minority that are being unfriendly in their approach to the project, but it still leaves a bitter taste after all the efforts we had made. The points might be valid, but hostility doesn’t win any friends.

Maybe I’ll hook the team up with the disabled folk who helped out on the Go Genie prototype, who by contrast were delightful and very eager to have their voices heard and I’m sure would welcome the opportunity to have some input into the new Government site.

I’m interested in reading your (non-aggressive!) comments below, or via Twitter @paulannett.

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31 thoughts on “Accessibility. You’re doing it wrong.

  1. Really enjoyed reading that – hits home with me as i’m currently developing an online portal for ‘disabled’ students to complete some online documentation…will be quite a balancing act to try to keep various camps happy.

    Joel

  2. I guess I’m disappointed that it took this testing for you to realise the needs. On the other hand, I appreciate your honesty in revealing your previous ignorance. Well done.

  3. I recently worked with and organisation that supports people with a wide range of disabilities and they said they only really began to understand the needs of their clients when they had sat with them and watched them trying to access information from their old site.

    They had a general understanding of accessibility issues (in fact a better understanding that most people I’ve work for) but they recognised that they needed to learn more.

    I think this is a great article. Having been disabled myself (respiratory illness, had a lung transplant. please join the donor register while I think about it) I had my own accessibility issues, which do tend to be addressed in good web design. Unfortunately there are still a lot of non-good sites out there.

  4. Good blog Paul and as I said previously, you obviously have knowledge and experience of accessibility.
    I do however disagree on two points you have made here though.
    1) I don’t think that comments made by accessibility people to your previous blogs were aggressive – I think we were trying to put across some valid points. However, it’s difficult having a professional and rational dialogue about these things though via the written word and both sides can come across badly due to misunderstandings and misinterpretations. We should apply the same rules to commenting on blogs as we do to firing off angry emails at work! Basically, count to 10!
    2) I have to disagree with your point on disabled and deaf people lacking confidence, so staying at home and not participating. I have found the total opposite. I have found that people are determined to participate regardless and to lead a active life – maybe more than non-disabled people in some cases. I can speak from personal experience too here. Having had Chronic Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis since the age of two, my parents and I have thrown myself into every aspect of life. This goes for a lot of my ‘disabled’ friends too. If we see that something might be tricky we go for it anyway.
    I do think that when you get older or get a disability late in life this can affect confidents to a certain extent, but I think if you speak to 5 – 45 years olds who have disabilities of some kind you might find that they want to join in as much as possible.

    One final point. I am not trying to explain away any rudeness or aggression that you feel you have received on your previous blogs but I do want to raise something that I feel is often forgotten about us ‘disabled and/ or accessibility folk.
    It is often the case when you have some disease that makes life tricky, that you build up a certain level of anger under the surface. This builds up over the years, mainly due to factors like pain, being spoken to like idiots but Drs, not being able to get on and off a bus, being stuck in hospital while your friends are clubbing in Ibiza etc. So, we get used to being forthright and outspoken (in some cases) to be heard and to get things changed.
    It’s unfortunate that this anger can sometimes spill out.
    It’s the same for accessibility specialists. They have to be very ‘strong’ to keep getting up after being pushed back all the time.

    So I apologies on behalf of all of us – I do not want people to think badly of accessibility because of the ‘anger’ of a few – and hope that we can all have a more civil dialogue from now on! :)

    • Thanks for your comment Lucy. In response to your points:

      1) You didn’t see some of the emails we got!

      2) Agreed, the people we spoke to weren’t representative of everybody. We found that people with learning disabilities were the ones who lacked confidence most because they felt excluded and vulnerable. On the other hand, one particular wheelchair-bound guy was probably one of the most confident people I’ve ever met! But because we didn’t need to help him get more confident he didn’t feature in my analysis above.

    • I have a friend who I know through her husband. I’d known him for a year before I met her. When I asked why I hadn’t been introduced to her yet, he told me that she gets out very little since the Deafness makes her feel like a burden on him (because he spends the time interpreting) and the wheelchair means all she sees at folk festivals and the like are butts and crotches.

      I’ve since learned a lot of sign language from her, and I think the fact that she now has two people she can rely on to interpret for her (taking turns instead of being monopolised) in social situations is has contributed to her getting out more.

  5. No, I didn’t. I used to get a few myself when I was the accessibility specialist at the BBC – it’s not just designers that get it in the neck :)

    I read an interesting study about people with learning disabilities and the lack of choice that they experience due to those around them making decisions for them.

    It’s true that you don’t hear from this segment of the audience with regards to accessibility – they don’t have the confidence to complain because they often believe they are causing the problem and not the website.

    In the training I provide now, I try to get this point across. We need to pay more attention to those we don’t hear complaints from rather always jumping to the tune of those that shout the loudest!

  6. Paul this is a really nice, insightful and honest perspective.

    Accessibility can generate polarized perspectives and you make an excellent point about the need of moving beyond compliance.

    From my perspective as MD of Nomensa accessibility means so much more than compliance. I do not believe that a website can truly reach its full potential without being open and available to all or at least having the strategic ambition.

    Great usability is only part of the user experience equation. For a site to provide a truly great experience it should balance accessibility and usability: both must be given equal consideration because they impact design and technology decisions so fundamentally.

    However, I do believe (in spirit) this is the approach that has been adopted for the Alphagov project which is even more impressive given what has been delivered in very aggressive timescales.

    You are also right of course about aggressive criticism because it is far easier to do but less significant than offering advice on how to improve or optimise. Again, people can have very polarised views about accessibility.

    My view is that we still have a very long way to go before we deliver experiences that have accessibility consideration that are equally as important as design, technology and usability.

    I believe this is the decade that accessibility will be more fully adopted because it needs to be if we are to deliver experiences that engage us all and allow each and every one of us to contribute our potential.

    I am pleased to read you stressing the importance of research (and observation) which is vital in the quest to understand human behaviour and specifically how people interact with technology. To put it another way the more we understand the more we can design-in and therefore the better the experiences we can deliver.

    Simon

  7. It’s great to hear of this experience and the extra understanding that it has given you. It’s arguably not practical for all of us web-developers to gain the same ‘real-life’ experience however (it just doesn’t scale). So the question becomes how do we gain this understanding for creating accessible web-sites without all having worked directly with disabled people?

    (Aside – Or do we need a ‘web-developer licence’ where you can’t practice until you’ve been on the working with disabled people course? Works in some professions, but I can’t see it catching on in web-design somehow…)

    I had thought that one purpose of standards is to help codify this kind of experience and best practice into something that the inexperienced can then follow, to help ensure needs of diverse users are taken into account. Is the underlying problem for the inexperienced that standards such as WCAG doesn’t go far enough? Or are too ambigous? Or just not practiced enough?

  8. Thanks for this article, Paul. It’s always interesting to learn some new points and be reminded of old ones. No doubt I shall refer some clients to this article in the future.

  9. Completely agree – there’s so much more to assisting users with special needs than passing an online test. And yet again another great example of the need to user test.

    Having been involved in some testing myself using The Shaw Trust (http://www.shaw-trust.org.uk/) I cannot agree more with the fact that seeing those using the website using assistive technologies is a real eye opener.

    I think what The Shaw Trust did well was to provide testing with a range of different users using a wide range of assistive technologies.

    But making the ‘website’ accessible is only half the battle – is there’s no useful information in there you might as well not bother. The other half of the battle is in the content – as you say – Extending accessibility to include online advice about offline processes.

    I work – amongst others – for a ski company – and we do lots of work with the Disabled Ski charity DSUK who help the disabled ski down icy mountains! Its amazing what people with special needs can do with the right enablers.

    Yet on the web we provide them with little or no information on which resorts are suitable for wheelchairs (some are going to be downright impossible) or suitability for any other types of special needs.

    It doesn’t make a difference how accessible our website is – since they will never know what product is suitable for them due to lack of content.

    Even the simple addition of the wheelchair symbol on the Tube map(denoting which stops are accessible via wheelchair and pushchair) means that my family and I can access London with a pushchair and without a massive headache.

    Little thing – big difference to our experience.

  10. Great Article really interesting.

    Was wondering where you got the stat that a 3rd of the UK population has accessibility requirement? It’s a compelling argument to have with clients when they don’t want to consider accessibility due to budget, etc…

    • The client – Alison at Pesky People – gave me the figure of 30%. (that’s people with access needs, not the same number as registered disabled people).

      • Yep the figure I’ve come across more often is 1/5, however there are no hard and fast figures in existence.. all you can get hold of is numbers of people who are physically / mentally capable of responding to a survey, numbers of people who are actually registered as being disabled, people who have actually been diagnosed.. etc! Especially tricky when trying to get hold of figures on child disability, when conditions so often haven’t been picked up at all yet.

  11. Interesting article. I wouldn’t completely agree with you that using guidelines and checklists only covers “the bare minimum”. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines have been developed over years and meeting them can provide a good indication of accessibility well beyond the bare minimum. I do accept they are not perfect (for example WCAG2.0 now allows most “click here” links to pass providing they are within a context that enables users to understand where they are going), and they can never be fully objective (what is or isn’t adequate for a text alternative for example) or that they cover everything but I do believe they are a valuable tool.

    Interesting about the Cinema story as well. One famous cinema chain has an accessibility option in it’s phone booking system. which nicely tells you that the cinema has level access, accessible parking, toilets etc. but completely fails to tell you whether the particular screening you want to go to has a disabled seat available or not.

    • You’re right, maybe “the bare minimum” is a bit deliberately contentious!

      Your cinema comment just reminded me that we found one venue where the online floorplan showed a row of ‘unavailable’ seats and no disabled seats. A phone call to the venue revealed that those unavailable seats were reserved for disabled people… “But it looks like you have no disabled seating. They’re marked as unavailable to book.” – they just couldn’t see our point :-(

  12. “Of course, I also understood the importance of alt-text on images, skip-to-content links before navigation, and using semantically meaningful HTML. This is all well documented good practice, but watching disabled people use the web has made me realise that whilst these things are very useful, “accessibility compliance” really covers only the bare minimum we should be doing to meet disabled people’s needs. We are merely ticking the boxes rather than considering context. Rather than being user-centred.”

    A pure gem.

  13. @Dick – Not quite there with you on this one.

    True, the “bare minimum” statement is a little strong, but it is true that simply checking the accessibility boxes just won’t be enough to make an application or a web site accessible. Sure, the checklists are great and WCAG 2.0 is a wonderful tool, but by itself, it is just not enough.

    I consider the WCAG 2.0 checklist to be the first necessary and unavoidable step for accessibility. An objective approach, based on a set of measurable criteria. To be considered complete, user-centered and truly accessible however, accessibility also has to integrate a much more subjective approach, based on user testing. There are so many things that can still cause problems, even when the different success criteria have been taken into account (redundancy, hover problems, attribute support in ATs, focus indicators, etc.). It is really important that we understand the need to focus on compatibility beyond standards.

    During the 2010 a11ySummit, WebAIM’s Jared Smith presented an awesome conference on the whole thing (http://webaim.org/presentations/2010/a11ysummit/compatibility.pdf) which can be summarized in a single idea:

    compliance != accessibility

    • Agree with what you’re saying about ‘also’, it’s not a case of compliance Vs user testing, so there’s a bit missing from that equation..

      compliance != accessibility

      AND

      testing with a statistically insignificant sample != accessibility

      What we’re actually striving for is to cater for all of our users.

      To do a perfect job of that we would need test with every single one of our users. That’s obviously impossible, so both compliance and testing (and not forgetting expert review too) are tools that have been developed to do as much as we can to get closer towards catering for everyone.

      Use more tools, and you’ll always be closer than using just one.

  14. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Here are some relevant resources:
    * How People with Disabilities Use the Web http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/people-use-web/
    * Contacting Organizations about Inaccessible Websites http://www.w3.org/WAI/users/inaccessible – which says “When contacting an organization about accessibility, consider what approach will get the results you want. The tone of your emails, phone calls, and other communications will impact how people react and respond….”
    * Involving Users in Web Projects for Better, Easier Accessibility http://www.w3.org/WAI/users/involving
    * Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design http://www.uiAccess.com/JustAsk/

    Suggestions for improving these resources are welcome!

    ~Shawn

  15. Always good to see a nice user centred approacch advocated, especially where accessibility goes! It doesn’t take much to do, recuiters don’t charge any extra to get hold of a sample containing people with disabilities than without.

    Standards / heuristics still do have their place though, testing is by necessity only with small samples so can’t pick up on everything, so a mix of methods is always the best way forward.

    I would strongly disagree with something though:

    “If somebody tells you accessibility is free, quick and easy to implement then they’re talking about the ticking-the-boxes kind”

    There is alot that can be done at zero (or even negative) cost, simple design decisions such as a choice of colour, using EMs instead of fixed font sizes or deciding not to animate a carousel, that can make a real significant difference to people. Some of your examples in the article (eg. line width, or choosing one icon over another) are free.

    Getting cultural change across the industry is a hearts and minds job, so if people’s interest can be piqued by starting with some easy stuff first rather than being put off by the idea that accessibility can only be difficult and expensive, then we’ll be onto a winner.

    It has happened successfully with a very well known agency we’ve worked with.. starting with introducing them to a bit of basic colour contrast and tabbing stuff, and now on later projects progressing all the way to catering for the most challenging audience possible, infants with profound and multiple special needs.. high functioning autism, single switch interfaces, etc.

    Also alphagov – that’s a bit of a unique situation as it has an obligation to be a shining example of best practice, that’s why (like the BBC) it’s under such close scrutiny. Sorry to hear about the emails though, vocal criticism is one thing but aggression doesn’t help anyone!

  16. Hi Paul

    Thanks for the link to this – and for creating a thoughtful and informative post which has helped lots of people with different interests and experience to offer their knowledge and expertise in such a useful way

    I wonder whether you know of a place where this debate is raised on an ongoing basis and the lessons learned are being shared already – both for people who want to know about current and for those who want to debate the solutions?

    As an example this would have been a great topic for presentation and debate at yesterday’s e-access conference in London, which drew together lots of people from the accessibility side, and may have attracted a lot more from the design side if they’d known you’d be there. Is there a forum for the two to come together?

    I also think that your take on this topic would be ideal for conferences such as dConstruct in Brighton, which is about cutting edge design thinking but would seldom consider issues such as the ones raised here?

    Thanks

    Mark

    • Thanks Mark. I’d happily give a presentation on the subject. I think there are lessons to be learnt by the web design community and also by the accessibility advocate community. I didn’t know about yesterday’s e-access conference. If you know of anybody organising a conference, please feel free to direct them to this post if you think they’d be interested.

      I used to help run dConstruct when I worked at Clearleft, but their talks these days tend to be bigger picture inspirational thought pieces rather than practical advice on a specific topic, so I’m not sure this would fit in.

  17. Hi, very interesting.

    I’ve a comment about text size. After having laser eye surgery in the summer and not being able to read normal sized text for a while, I had to push Firefox’es min. font size. up to 22px or more. ( and it takes so many clicks to do this that Mozilla should rethink this, IMO) Well, what a revelation…

    Back in the days before browsers zoomed, a responsible frontend developer would have taken on board the recommendations in Dan Cederholm’s “Bulletproof CSS” books, and build sites in a way so that when you inc/decrease the font size the layout doesn’t break and content & UI isn’t hidden from view; the goal being two text-sizes’ change in either direction without the site breaking.

    I found that the developers of many of my usual internet haunts mostly hadn’t considered that users would increase the browser’s text size, thinking probably that as browsers zoom, that is enough.

    With an inreased min. font size I found broken layouts, and text and UI elements that disappeared out of fixed-height blocks or due to overflow:hidden. (Lynda.com was one culprit – they should certainly know better). I was really shocked – with so many people in the web community claiming to be “standardistas” and banging on about accesibility I expected better attention to this. I’d guess that the situation is actually worse now than five years ago, as browser zooming masks “bulletproofing” inadequacies.

    As you say (and as I found), zooming isn’t a panacea if you need a drastic hike in text size: you can only fit so much on the screen, so if you have to zoom in a lot you’ll end up scrolling horizontally – very tiring, slow and bad for comprehension.

    It really made me sorry for people with long-term visual problems that more sites aren’t well thought out, and I was very grateful to get my normal sight back.

    Thanks for an a thought-provoking and informative article,

    S.Smith.

    PS – I like your approach of putting the “how to change your browser’s font size” on your websites – actually the last place I worked did this too, so hooray to us both :)

  18. Thanks for the great article, I was researching for details like this, going to check out the other posts.

  19. Nice article Paul. It seems to be a fight that I have on a daily basis, We seem to be an industry that wants to cut corners all the time. The old “looks and works fine on my screen just get it out there” seems to be a statement I hear more and more.

    Its a struggle just trying to educate clients, managers, directors and 99% people that want/need websites built on the importance of user testing with real disabled people and to really invest in proper accessibility testing and on going testing. Everyone is always keen for websites to be accessible until it starts costing them money then the old “don’t spend to much time on a minority” quote comes out. I think an awareness campaign to show both clients and designers/developers the real issues people have with their sites would be great for our industry.

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