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Web Accessibility Twitter Chat: A Review

  • 4 Min Read

On May 15, Janna Cameron and I led a Twitter discussion about web accessibility. We’d like to thank everyone who added their voice to the choir!

Our chat was a little “all over the map,” but that was half the fun. Topics discussed included understanding the “why”of accessibility, little things that go a long way towards making a web experience accessible, helping course designers make their content work for every learner in the system, and tools that others can use to check their own approach against accessibility standards. We hope to involve more people in our next Twitter chat: the more perspectives that join the conversation, the more enlightening it will be for everyone.

Here is a transcript of our web accessibility conversation.

Welcome to our twitter chat about #d2la11y with @vccarin and @jannacameron
Q1: Why don’t web developers pay more attention to accessibility? #d2la11y
A1 : Web #a11y can feel like uncharted territory. Browse without your eyes? With poor motor control? Impossible! Or is it? #D2La11y
A1: When you dig in, you learn that web #a11y isn’t as novel as it seems. #D2La11y
.@Desire2Learn do we include online instructors in our definition of “web developers?” We certainly should, I think. #D2La11y
My former college required a11y training for online instructors. They were less than enthusiastic, mostly. Not seen as a biggie. #D2La11y
@barrydahl I think the “required” is the key word there. It’s hard to be motivated if you don’t know the full “why”. #D2La11y
.@D2LBarry Yes. We have resources for instructors so they can make their content accessible, like templates and guides with tips. #D2La11y
@barrydahl @jennyrhill for me, I think #a11y was much more interesting once I could see how it impacted people, like @vccarin #D2La11y
.@barrydahl I think it makes a lot more sense to people when they meet a person who actually benefits from this stuff. #D2La11y
.@jennyrhill Requiring the a11y training was important for our Civil Rights Review. It showed that we cared about the a11y laws. #D2La11y
@barrydahl I think instructors are definitely included. They can have a huge impact on the #a11y of their content. #D2La11y
I’d like to hear from folks on how attention to #a11y web design has made a difference to someone #D2La11y
.@ernymac I think one of the major points is that it makes a difference to everyone, not just those with specific a11y needs. #D2La11y
@ernymac I really enjoyed the first time we tested out ARIA menus with Carin. She had tears of joy/ relief. #D2La11y
@barrydahl Definitely! I think complying with the law more pleasant for everyone when they understand how a11y benefits everyone. #D2La11y
1 of the best course content collections I ever saw in an online class suffered due to crazy text formatting – colors, sizes, fonts #D2La11y
.@ernymac I really notice when A11y is considered.. Makes it a lot easier to get through a process when I don’t have to struggle. #D2La11y
.@jannacameron definitely tears of joy! That was amazing! #D2La11y
@barrydahl I think that a lot of problems are accidental. Things aren’t purposely inaccessible, people just don’t know #D2La11y
Q2: What are some small things that you find make a big difference for web #a11y? #D2La11y
@ernymac The difference is hard to put into words. #a11y is the difference between being able to participate and being left out. #d2la11y
@ernymac And when I say participate, I mean in even the most basic of online tasks. For example, this chat. #d2LA11Y
@VC_Steve What types of barriers do you see? #D2La11y
.@jannacameron using actual headings instead of big text m akes a huge difference. #D2La11y
@jannacameron Naming links so that they make sense out of context can make a big difference. It’s important they’re understandable. #D2La11y
@jannacameron With so much of the world moving online for day to day business, inaccessible online forms are a real problem. #d2la11y
@jennyrhill The benefit of link naming is something that I didn’t understand at first. It took some tutorials with JAWS #D2La11y
@jannacameron Inaccessible video content is another one I run into a lot. Many times videos are embedded improperly. #d2la11y
.@jannacameron using actual row and column headers makes it so I can tell what goes where. #D2La11y
@jannacameron And that doesn’t even touch the problem of videos that are lacking in descriptions/captions when they’re needed. #d2la11y
.@VC_Steve ug. how many times do I have to root out whether wmode has been set to transparent or opaque? #D2La11y
@VC_Steve Embedded properly = controls actually available with a keyboard.. or is there more? #D2La11y
@VCCarin @jannacameron Clearly labelled fields and buttons. That’s huge. #d2la11y
@vccarin it’s ridiculous you can name the setting wmode. #D2La11y
@VCCarin @jannacameron Useful and descriptive alt text on links so I know where I’m going whenI click. #d2la11y
@VCCarin And even if you can see the players, half the time the buttons aren’t labelled so you can’t play the thing anyway. #d2la11y
.@jannacameron The most fun is to bring up a links list to show people why it’s so important to have proper link names. #D2La11y
@VCCarin At least not without having to experiment for a few minutes first, which may or may not work in the end. #d2la11y
@jannacameron Controls available with keyboard, plus controls being visible in the first place. #d2la11y
Q3: What is most important for web #a11y? #D2La11y
any tips for Instructors or Instructional Designers when building accessible course content? #D2La11y
Small-ish thing: Is information conveyed by color also conveyed by context, markup, graphic coding, or other means? Fix it, if not. #D2La11y
.@ernymac If you’re going to put pictures in there, provide a supplementary description of the picture or diagram. #D2La11y
It’s been fun seeing #a11y newbies relieved that semantic markup is a good part of the solution #D2La11y
.@ernymac Please please pleeeease don’t just scan an image of a pdf and call it content. *tear* #D2La11y
@ernymac Consistency is important, using templates can help with that. Ensuring link names have context for the learner, too. #D2La11y
@jannacameron A clear, sensible site layout. That doesn’t mean dumb down your design. It just means explain it. #d2la11y
We did a usability test recently where the person didn’t know what “alt text” was. It’s important show what’s expected #D2La11y
@jannacameron Those small things mentioned in answers to a previous question go a long way towards explaining it. #d2la11y
Web Accessibility Initative provides great tips and tricks for designing with accessibility in mind #D2La11y #D2La11y
.@barrydahl I just love it when someone tells me to look for the fields markeed in red. I’ll get right on that. *sarcastic face* #D2La11y
@ernymac Please, do not scan your handouts as images and stick them into a PDF. Screenreaders can’t do anything with that. #d2la11y
@VCCarin Yes! Text should be text, that’s a huge thing. CSS and HTML can make it pretty without excluding learners. #D2La11y
Our HTML templates for better #a11y are available here with a CC zero license: #D2La11y
@VC_Steve scanned handouts are annoying for everyone #D2La11y
.@jannacameron really? didn’t….know? I see more often that they don’t know what alt text is truly for. #D2La11y
Giving people flexibility when viewing documents is important. Allow them to print, download, view transcripts, etc. #D2La11y
@jannacameron Plus, we’re working on a new set, they’re up on today! #D2La11y
@ernymac In a strange, perhaps selfish way, that’s nice to hear. I’m glad it isn’t just blind folks. Now how to get people to stop? #d2la11y
.@sandra_earl yeah that’s huge. Sometimes an inline viewer just doesn’t work for someone. Let them download the document. #D2La11y
@jennyrhill Woot! We’re going to be talking about these new templates at our accessibility interest group meeting #D2La11y
@VCCarin @jannacameron Yes, that happens a lot. You’ll get alt text like “a picture.” Ok, of what? #d2la11y
@vccarin I once got an image with alt text “Please enable images” #D2La11y
.@jannacameron ah yes. The alt text on the google CAPTCHA…ah…don’t get me started on those. #D2La11y
Q4: What testing platforms do people use for evaluating the accessibility of their content? #D2La11y
@jannacameron w3c validator, WAVE, Juicy Studio… and @VCCarin….. #D2La11y
@VCCarin agreed. As a student it is so important that I can organize, highlight, dissect content in ways that make sense to me. #D2La11y
@jannacameron We use a variety, WAVE (, screenreaders, color contrast analyzers, browser developer tools… #D2La11y
@jannacameron just validating our code can set us in the right direction sometimes. But nothing beats real user testing. #D2La11y
AChecker great for accessibility testing because it shows how to fix issues #D2La11y
@abergstrom I’m also really excited about the OpenAjax Accessibility Extension. #D2La11y
Obviously, the better route is to create tools where it’s very hard to make inaccessible content in the first place #D2La11y
.@sandra_earl and the possibility for accessible math. No more ugly images of equations with meh alt text. #D2La11y
@ernymac Special access for quizzes in the Desire2Learn LE is great for giving learners what they need- more time to finish, etc. #D2La11y
I like how MathJAX makes it possible to write an equation once, and present an accessible version when MathPlayer is installed #D2La11y
Thanks to everyone that took part in our TweetChat. We love the great insights from all that participated! #d2la11y.
@jennyrhill @jannacameron real user testing should be complimented by opportunities to provide feedback within the website/design #D2La11y
@jannacameron Thanks! BTW, ChromeVox now supports MathML and MathJax as well #D2La11y
Increase accessibility with HTML templates for content in online courses. New post in D2L Community. #D2La11y


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