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Let’s Hear from the Disabled

Articles about blogging tipsIf you are disabled in any way which makes reading blogs and surfing the web a challenge, trying to work with what’s available or using special equipment, please let us how you access this blog and how you blog.

A lot of presumptions are made about what works and doesn’t work for accessibility standards and usability in web page design. Let’s cut through the assumptions and get the truth.

What makes a blog hard to read and use? How can bloggers improve their blog’s usability and readability? Are some blogs easier than others? Or do they all have the same problems? If you could ask bloggers to change anything in how they present, code, and write their blogs, what would you change to make your experience better?

If you are disabled and blog, how do you blog which may be different from the non-disabled? Do you use voice recognition software or special equipment? What techniques do you use that could help us better understand how you blog and how that information could help us blog better?

Who is out blogging about disabilities and how to blog with them? Any recommendations on where you go for the help and information you need to figure out all the blog and web stuff? Any good online representatives?

If you want to learn how to blog better, you have to blog for everyone. And that includes the huge community of disabled web users. So, please, share with us how the blogosphere can make your experience better. This isn’t about labeling people, it’s about learning. And we want to learn from those who know better and best.

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15 Comments

  1. Posted May 5, 2007 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I’m not disabled in the way most people will understand it but it is a huge issue for me and on-line surfing. I’m red-shifted colorblind. I do see colors but I have an issue with shades. For example, I can not distinguish the right and bottom border of the comment text box from the white background.

    Like that, there are a lot of other tiny details that make some websites quite annoying to me. Luckily I have a lot of friends who design websites and check their designs with me to verify if there is any little thing they can change. But a lot of websites don’t realize there’s a lot of us out there; most not knowing they are colorblind (I realized when I was 16).

  2. Posted May 5, 2007 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I think this is a great idea Lorrelle. I’d really love to hear from people on this.

    I’d be interested if Matias could elaborate a little, if possible. Are there any common mistakes that bother you in web design? What about light text on a dark background, or things like that?

  3. Posted May 6, 2007 at 2:19 am | Permalink

    Hello Lorrelle,

    I have a blog about special needs education and learning disabilities. I work as a special needs teacher in the Netherlands.
    I think that a lot of websites are very messy. Especially the new and hot ones for teenagers. I think that children with autism or Autism spectrum disorder have trouble getting the right stuff out of the context. Blogs should be eay to see through what the main text is and where the message is to find ( I hope my English is understandable).

  4. Posted May 6, 2007 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    My name is not linking to the right blog in the upper message. In this message it is.

  5. Posted May 6, 2007 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I use a program called Zoomtext most of the time, and sometimes use the Jaws for Windows screen reader.
    I don’t like pages that rely too heavily on images for navigation (since they need .alt text to be read by a screen reader and some people don’t include that), or where the text colour is too close to the background colour and impossible for me to read. Flash is a problem as well, since it can’t be read by a screen reader.
    Snap previews are annoying as well. With Zoomtext I only see a little bit of the screen at once, so if I accidentally mouse over a link the Snap preview comes up and I have to move the mouse off it to get it to go away, which means I’ve just lost my place. Trying to find it again usually results in the same preview coming up again. So, that’s rather annoying.
    I’ve found that WordPress as a whole is very accessible, and I don’t have much trouble with it. Everything is styled with stylesheets, so turning off CSS usually fixes most problems for me.

  6. Posted May 7, 2007 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    @ Jo

    My name is Erik Wingren and I head up User Experience Research for Snap.com. I would very much like to talk to you — over email or phone, depending on what works best for you — to gain an in-depth understanding of your experience with Snap Shots while using magnifier/reader applications such as ZoomText and JAWS. If you agree, please send me an email at erik[@]snap[.]com to let me know how and when I can reach you.

    Cheers.

    Erik Wingren
    Snap UX Research

  7. Posted May 7, 2007 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I am a legally blind computer user and blogger. I am completely blind in one eye and vision-limited in the other so using a computer at all is a blessing with today’s assistive technologies. I write, design and maintain a couple of WordPress blog sites (www.effectivebiblestudy.com, http://www.richardcravy.com) and I mostly get by with larger LCD screens running at lower than spec resolutions with large fonts turned on. However, this is not always enough as some WordPress blogs (and other sites) use themes that are still difficult for me to read. Namely, I struggle with sites that use color schemes with little contrast between background and text. For example, pale orange text in the sidebar on a white background. Very tough for me to read. Sure, I could use a screen reader and it would read it fine but I like to read for myself while I still can and I love to enjoy the artistic expression of the designers as well.
    So, if I had a suggestion for WordPress designers, be mindful of the amount of contrast that you have between your text and your backgrounds. It will make a big difference.

  8. Posted May 7, 2007 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Jo and Erik: This is as I explained in WordPress.com, Please Stop Using Snap Preview and it continues to annoy me and many others including the disabled.

    I got a phone call yesterday from a friend of mine I’d recently set up Accessibility features on his computer wanting to know what he was doing wrong. He’d had another cataract surgery and it didn’t quite work right and now he needed the larger fonts and screen size to see. Forgetting how WordPress.com continues to allow Snap on their blogs without realizing what a nuisance they are, I’d introduced him to WordPress.com bloggers. He kept having things pop up and lose his place and screw things up. It took 20 minutes to calm him down and find out that he wasn’t doing anything wrong but Snap was making his viewing experience so miserable. He reads the words with his mouse to keep track of where he is and Snap kept popping up making him lose his place. He now won’t visit any WordPress.com blogs except mine because he knows I’ve turned that annoying feature off.

    It’s sad that what could be an interesting feature is foisted upon so many unsuspecting. The opt-out plan is dumb. These things should come with an opt-in option and carry a warning on all blogs using them. Or some distinctive quality like the text link ads with double lines under them – something that says “Don’t come near unless you want interference between you and the content.”

    In my humble opinion. ;-)

  9. Posted May 8, 2007 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    I’ve also listed several reasons at WP Feedback why snap view and similar things should not be default but can’t add to what you have said.

    However, I still do NOT appreciate the default separate preview process in writing and editing posts. The older way enabled me to see the results of what I was doing quickly. This was particularly important because I need to add extra bits (like bold or characters) to be sure my readers can tell hotlinks from text (not all themes demarcate this), etc. (I have reported this to feedback.) If all themes gave comments edit buttons, that too would help. I try to regularly review previous posts and to skim each screenful for errors in display (sometimes in text, oops!).

  10. Posted May 8, 2007 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I agree and will be yelling about this soon. I was hoping it was temporary. Stay tuned and let your voice be heard next week when I lash out against this bad feature.

  11. Posted May 13, 2007 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle–saw you at SOB and I’m really enjoying your book!

    I’m deaf, so podcasts and videos are unaccessible to me unless there’s a transcript or captioning provided. I’m just now exploring some captioning options on the web and learning more myself.

  12. Posted May 13, 2007 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Excellent information. I hadn’t thought about captions for podcasts, but transcripts are a definite help. Thanks for your input on this. It’s such a critical, fairly weakly explored area of web development with more facts than usable information.

    I wish we’d had more time to chat at the conference. Wasn’t that amazing! I’m sure, having worked with translators before, that they had fun with the new blogging jargon for you. ;-)

  13. Posted May 24, 2007 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    encouraged more than once by O’Folks (previous commenter) to check this site out, i first need to say that my disability is minor–age plus the digital divide. the latter means those of us who only began to use computers late in life.

    my post today at http://www.alittleredhen.com is the second about what some blog services are doing to impede true interaction among bloggers.

    wish Type Pad had someone like you on its case! yours, naomi

  14. Catherine Turner
    Posted October 30, 2007 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    I’m visually impaired and use JAWS screen reading software. So far on the whole I’ve found blogs pretty accessible for me – I think this is because at the moment they seem to be largely text based. That’s not to say websites have to be text based to be screen reader accessible but if they are it automatically gets rid of some of the problems. A problem I recently discovered as a blogger on WordPress though is the requirement to drag and drop items when you want to customise your sidebar. This is inaccessible for me and I had to get a friend to do it and I don’t want to have to do that again.

  15. Posted February 4, 2008 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Hello,

    Ironically, I found this post while doing a Google search on accessible feed readers, and figured I’d comment since I blog quite a bit, use WordPress, and use Jaws for Windows. One thing I’ve noticed is that information doesn’t read correctly when in forms mode, (I.E., text either gets sepearated after a couple of characters onto another line, or just doesn’t read at all, as seems to be the case with this form, so sorry if there are misspellings. Also, the visual editor is completely inaccessible, so that option is out, which I’m finally noticing the loss of since Jaws has now added a copy as-is feature which allows for the copying of formatting, links, ETC. from web pages in to html-aware documents such as email, Word documents and spread sheets. To get around this, I use the code editor, and will try to remember to compose posts in a text editor so that I can correct spelling and things like that. But all and all, I think WordPress is the most accessible blogging platform around. I’ve been using it on my own server since 2005 and am glad I made the switch.


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  1. [...] Ze zou graag van mensen die hier meer over weten horen hoe hun mening is. Dus heb je iets te zeggen hierover bezoek dan haar blog: http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2007/05/05/lets-hear-from-the-disabled/. [...]

  2. [...] A lot of presumptions are made about what works and doesn’t work for accessibility standards and usability in web page design. Let’s cut through the assumptions and get the truth. http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2007/05/05/lets-hear-from-the-disabled/ [...]

  3. [...] will be highly accessible to all Web browsers, on all platforms, with all screen resolutions – even people with disabilities (like the blind using screen [...]

  4. [...] Let’s Hear from the Disabled [...]

  5. […] Let’s Hear from the Disabled […]

  6. […] article, Blogging About Disabilities, and other follow-up articles on how those with physical disabilities work and communicate on the web help web designers, developers, and typical bloggers understand that unless you take […]

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