University of Michigan

Accessibility Testing Newsletter > 11.16.2012

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The Accessibility Testing Newsletter is a twice-monthly publication (second and fourth Fridays) intended to supplement training provided through the Accessible Apps project. It will contain information of use to both programmers and non-programmers. The Newsletter is sent automatically to AIS staff, and to other U-M personnel by request. Please send comments or questions to Jane Vincent, Assistive Technology Lead,

Note: Because of the holiday, the next newsletter will be distributed on 11/26. Happy Thanksgiving!

Refresher: Screen Reader Compatibility

Many of the Level A success criteria for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are tied to ensuring compatibility with assistive technologies, primarily screen readers used by blind individuals to hear information from the screen. Examples of these criteria include the following (this is not an exhaustive list):

1.1.1 Non-text Content: All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose, except for [specific situations].
Implications: Screen readers cannot access information from graphics, including bitmapped text. Text alternatives are a redundant strategy for conveying important visual information. They are particularly important if the graphic also serves as a link.

1.3.1 Info and Relationships: Information, structure, and relationships conveyed through presentation can be programmatically determined or are available in text.
Implications: Information is often conveyed through visual indicators--font size, color, boldface, etc. Markup and text that is redundant with graphic elements are two common ways of also making this information available to screen reader users.

2.1.2 No Keyboard Trap: If keyboard focus can be moved to a component of the page using a keyboard interface, then focus can be moved away from that component using only a keyboard interface, and, if it requires more than... standard exit methods, the user is advised of the method for moving focus away.
Implications: Mouse users are able to click randomly anywhere on a screen. Non-mouse users are reliant on keyboard commands to move into elements such as form fields, and equally reliant on commands to move away. If these latter commands do not work, the user is 'trapped' and will be unable to access the rest of the page without refreshing it.

2.4.4 Link Purpose (In Context): The purpose of each link can be determined from the link text alone or from the link text together with its programmatically determined link context, except where the purpose of the link would be ambiguous to users in general.
Implications: Screen reader users frequently extract and review lists of links as a way to obtain an overview of page content. Having links that make sense out of context (e.g., 'More about Brady Hoke' instead of simply 'More') make this process much more efficient.

3.1.1 Language of Page: The default human language of each Web page can be programmatically determined.
Implications: If a screen reader that supports multiple languages can't determine what language a page is written in, it may end up using, say, English pronunciation rules to try to read a page that's in Portuguese. This can be highly amusing...unless you're trying to finish up research for a paper that's due in an hour.

Coming up in our 11/26 issue: a Refresher on the differences between screen readers for blind individuals and text-to-speech for individuals with learning disabilities.

Problem of the Week

Combo box containing the text Recommended Resources by Subject

Someone asked me if combo boxes, like the one below from the Hatcher Graduate Library site, are accessible to assistive technology users. I couldn't think how someone who can't use a mouse would be able to navigate one. Please clarify.

Answer: Most combo boxes are accessible once they gain focus. The user can press the up and down arrows to navigate through options, and then either press Enter or navigate to a 'Go'-type button to make their selection.

The most common problem with combo boxes is if they are designed so that a selection activates automatically when the user navigates to it. There may be legitimate reasons the coding has been set up this way, but it will cause major access barriers.

Coming up in our 11/26 issue: Do genuinely accessible CAPTCHAs exist?

Answer to 10/26 Quiz Question:

Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) Success Criteria 2.2.2 states 'For any moving, blinking or scrolling information that (1) starts automatically, (2) lasts more than five seconds, and (3) is presented in parallel with other content, there is a mechanism for the user to pause, stop, or hide it unless the movement, blinking, or scrolling is part of an activity where it is essential...' This criteria is tremendously helpful to assistive technology users, as well as to individuals with attention deficit disorder (ADD).

The news carousels now included on many sites are a type of 'moving, blinking, or scrolling information.' For example, here's a carousel from the U-M home page:

Carousel with large picture on the top and thumbnails of other options on the bottom.

This carousel has the following features:

Does this carousel meet WCAG Success Criteria 2.2.2?>

Answer: Yes, this is a very good example of an accessible carousel. Scott Williams, the University's Web Access Coordinator, praised it because of the following features...

11/9 Quiz Question

WCAG Guideline 1.4.1. states that information conveyed via color needs to have at least one redundant visual means of conveying the information. This redundant strategy can be text, shape, or any other indicator that does not rely on color.

Planview has the following on its Authorized Work: Project View page:

A list of items where green circles are used to indicate project work and blue circles are used to indicate support ticket work.

Is the Planview use of colored circles compliant with Guideline 1.4.1? If not, what could be done to bring it into compliance?

Evaluation Tool Tip: New WAVE features

WAVE is a free automatic website checker available both online or as a Firefox plug-in. A new beta version of the online checker has just been made public. This version includes:

While WAVE has always been a powerful tool, this version advances its usefulness several steps further.

Coming up in our 11/26 issue: A new NVDA keyboard overlay makes testing easier for sighted users

For the Accessible Apps team:
Pam Fons, Scott Williams, Jane Vincent