Accessibility Summit 2013 Thoughts – Part 2

Hello again.

Last week I shared a few insights (out of many!) I got from Accessibility Summit 2013, specifically from Glenda Sims and Whitney Quesenbery

Next up…I learned a lot from Dennis Lembrée and Jared Smith on Day One. Both of their presentations were more specific to troubleshooting issues. In Dennis’ case, avoiding CSS coding that causes accessibility problems, and in Jared’s, talking about keyboard usability particularly in coordination with screen readers.

From Dennis Lembrée‘s Usability and Accessibility CSS Gotchas

  • Be mindful of text readability — strive for a minimum font size of 14 pixels (16 is even better). Dennis referenced an article I hadn’t seen before from Smashing Magazine – 16 Pixels For Body Copy. Anything Less Is A Costly Mistake, which makes an interesting case for that size, complete with some dissenting counterpoints in the comments. The bottom line is that there are more people out there than you think with some sort of visual impairment — don’t assume they all can easily read your small text, or easily know how to zoom
  • Dennis brought up the ways to handle links, preferring the time-honored method of using an underline. And if for whatever reason that doesn’t fly, at least make sure links are visually distinct from the rest of the content, either through properly contrasting color and/or boldness.

From Jared Smith’s Implementing Usable Keyboard Interactions

  • Jared feels that skip links are an “intrusive hack” that may benefit a small audience but potentially pose issues for everyone else. If you’re going to use them, consider CSS techniques to hide them offscreen. I’ve always assumed, perhaps naively, that visible skip links are all-around good, so this opinion have given me cause to re-evaluate. It also made me go back to an old post I wrote in 2009 – Skip Navigation, which (at least by my standards) netted a lot of comments and good points and counterpoints!
  • Keyboard accessibility behaves differently when a screen reader is running — screen readers intercept keyboard commands
  • Unless you really really know what you’re doing, avoid using tabindex. This is something I had some dust-ups with developers over in past lives. Trying to force a tab order is risky business, and can cause real confusion.

It was a treat to finally get to see and hear Dennis and Jared. Web Axe and WebAIM are easily two of my biggest go-to’s for information, ever since I first got into accessibility.

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