I think most of us (myself included) tend to take for granted the simple privledges we have such as the ability to read the content on the page. We also don’t go nearly far enough out of our way to ‘really’ understand what it means to have to access a website via JAWS or similar screenreader software.
I have recently been working with a client whom has a visually impaired (actually legally blind) individual whom works with them. During one of our demo’s a few months back, I gave the typical spiel about how SharePoint 2010 has built in mechanisms to cater to such scenarios. This is what we are taught, and to a point it’s true, but…
Is that enough? What is the reality of a person consuming a SharePoint 2010 site via JAWS?
Well, today I learned that it’s not the most fluid experience that could be delivered and it’s actually quite annoying. First, they have to sit through the entire top navigation being read out to them. Then it has to read out the side navigation links. All this to get to , you guessed it, the content.
So I was called out on this today, and to be honest I’m kind of glad they did. I am a little ashamed that I didn’t take the extra time to test and deliver a better experience to “everyone’.
So, lesson learned, rules to live by:
- It only takes a few seconds to add in descriptive alt tags, do it.
- Test your page in a screen reader, see how far you can push it to drive a better experience. Close your eyes and see how well you navigate around.
Always remember that someone somewhere might well be relying on finding a piece of information and that you actually do have the ability to make their experience, and their lives (or at least day) a little bit easier.