Fix the Web

Harnessing the power of networks to make the web accessible for everyone.

the chicken and the creme egg

Posted by gailbradbrook on March 8, 2010

Wrapper from a creme egg showing the chicksSo I want to start a process to think about how social media can help Fix the Web (e-accessibility for disabled people). I’ve been chatting on email to various contacts but given this is a social media focussed project it made sense to think about communicating that way. Especially since at some point, there should be a website to promote through the networked world…

David Cushman (and his lovely family) came to visit this weekend, he is a Trustee of Citizens Online and an expert in Social Media. So we had a good natter and decided the best next step was to start a blog. I did used to have a website (anyone remember Geocities) but it was taken down even before they went under (it was about having a baby and my Demi Moore shots may have triggered alarms).

OK David I say, how do I make sure my blog is accessible to disabled people? We realise neither of us know and a cursory search doesn’t seem to help much. So I’m blogging about getting together an accessible social media website without knowing whether my site is or not. And if I don’t blog about it in real time I may lose some of the detail of the journey. I hope through blogging I’ll figure out having an accessible blog, but I don’t really know which should come first. I don’t know much about blogging or e-accessibility (I have other strengths to bring to this project!) and I think that lack of knowledge should have its benefits. I want to help create a solution that works for the average user…

The result of David’s tweeting to find out more:

“WordPress has more accessibility plugins than you can shake a stick at”

Should I need to stick in plugins? Shouldn’t this be built in? (I’m not 100% sure of what a plugin is btw)

“Wordpress is prob best. But the issue is more with the HTML and various widgets and applications than the blog platform itself”

So I might add in stuff that I think is cool and as a result be excluding people…ooohh…

AbilityNet (the national charity focused on adapting ICT for disability, health etc) says it has these accessibility features:

· a skip to content link to help screen reader and keyboard users access content quickly

· a search facility and sitemap

· alternative stylesheets (or viewing themes), including a linearised version with large text and a version designed to assist reading for visitors with dyslexia

· resizable text

· a flexible page layout (the centre column resizes with the width of your browser window)

I’m having a girlie time flicking through the themes you can have for your blog, but wondering which ones have any accessibility features built in- this doesn’t seem to be something you can filter for. I couldn’t find accessibility information from the general introductory stuff for WordPress, David got some info via a tweet:

“Here’s a link re wordpress and accessibility: http://codex.wordpress.org/Accessibility

This page starts with the inviting sentence: “Accessibility is for everyone, even WordPress users. But what is it?”

But it soon gets all techy on me:

“WordPress works right out of the box to help you keep your site accessible. Unfortunately, not all WordPress Theme authors take the time and patience to maintain those accessibility standards. Here is an example of using the title in a link in the index.php and the WordPress Loop:


permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark"

title="Permanent Link to php the_title(); ?>">

Let’s look at this. There is a link inside of the h2 tag for the title of the post. Inside of the link is a call to the permalink, the address of the post. It is followed by a rel which attaches a relationship to the link as a bookmark. This is followed by the title. In this case, it says “Permanent Link to” and then the title of the post, which is automatically generated by the the_title() template tag. The title tag is then used again as the name of the link.”

I’m on the second creme egg and feeling quite lost. I think more research is needed. I’m looking at this blog post and thinking christ the text is small, what if someone needs it bigger? This may be a chicken that gets rehatched soon….

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2 Responses to “the chicken and the creme egg”

  1. feedback from wordpress:

    All of our themes do a great job of using text that can be read using screen reading software. And while our themes don’t have built-in text-resizing options for visitors, all modern web browsers offer text-resizing options for visually impaired users. Accessibility plugins shouldn’t be necessary.

    That said, if you—or any of your visitors—ever experience any accessibility issues with any of our themes please let us know.

    GB says- I am waiting to see if this is acceptable- have asked an e-access expert

    • Some feedback I’ve had below. the theme I am using allows for the browser to text resize. I don’t know if all wordpress.com themes have that built in.

      Gail,

      I think the issue here relates to WordPress.com themes versus themes for the wordpress.org scripts

      Most commercial web sites and government web sites built on the WordPress CMS are heavily customized. Text styles are defined by the CSS associated with pages on the site – and WordPress allows a virtually unlimited number of page layouts – with or without widgets. Widgets can also by styled using the CSS. Similarly custom themes allow options for text only views, text based site maps and visual site maps – as well as a host of other accessibility options via plug-ins.

      It might be sensible for you to construct an accessibility plug-in library that helps people who are using the WordPress CMS to use plug-ins that help with site access. You could also do the same thing for other open source CMS platforms such as Joomla, Movable Type etc.

      WordPress.com themes can also be customized by altering the CSS (it’s a paid upgrade feature – but doesn’t cost much). This allows site builders to override the default CSS and to edit – for example to increase text size.

      Jeff
      >>
      Re the WordPress response – the critical question to ask is whether the WordPress themes define their text in relative or absolute terms. If relative then resizing is easy to do in any browser and adding in text resizing widgets or add-ons isn’t necessary. If absolute then some sort of patch would be needed to overcome this

      Robin Christopherson

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