Since @lrhodes just recently suggested that there should be a feature to hide inaccessible posts, and @gemlog reminded me today that folks might not even realize their names and toots might be hard for some people to read unless they are told, I guess it is my duty now to write another round of educational posts.
Hmm, this isn't really my area of expertise ... maybe I should just go find some old one and reboost?
Nah, let's do this.
In this thread, I'll list a couple suggestions for #Accessibility adjustments you can do to help out people who are #Blind, #VisuallyImpaired, or those who for other reasons use a #ScreenReader. Boosts appreciated!
But before I start:
If you can't do these things, that's fine. It is not my intention to bash other disabilities. The ways our lives suck are different, but we still should get along. You all are, after all, awesome people!
And if you just don't feel like doing them, that's OK. We are used to it. :)
Some people on the Fedi can't see your memes, doggos, flowers, art. That doesn't mean we wouldn't want to enjoy them.
There are also those who have to browse on data, and turned loading images off to save it. Those things eat up quite a bit of bandwidth!
And there are those who have trouble figuring out what they are looking at. Maybe because of the way their brain works, maybe because your image isn't clear to everyone.
You can help all of those by writing a caption for your image.
It doesn't need to be an essay. Even just a few words will do. Enough to explain the joke, or the cute pose your kitten is making. Don't worry about it; just write something!
If you have trouble remembering to do so, and would like a reminder, follow @PleaseCaption
Emojis are a wonderful invention! They help us humans, emotional as we normally are, express those emotions in places where voice tone and facial expressions aren't available. Much better than trying to put those feelings into words, right?
Well, people using a screen reader (a software that allows people, primarily visually impaired ones, to read what is on the screen using text to speech) still hear those emojis as words.
For example, 😉 is read as "graphic Winking Face", with graphic of course explaining what kind of element it is.
And by default for most screen readers, each graphic is on its own line.
So, what this means is that if you put 3 emojis in your name, your name will be 4 lines long to us. I know some of you like having emojis in your name, but if you could at least limit them to <=3, that'd be lovely.
And if you put a clapping emoji after every word, they'll be on separate lines, too. So maybe don't do that either? 🤷♀️
Oh, right! Almost forgot.
If you have any questions, ask them, and I'll do my best.
If you are curious how a particular emoji or symbol is read, send it, and I'll tel you. I can check with eSpeak, which is the default TTS engine for NVDA, as well as Microsoft's voices and a few others.
And also: Thank you. Both for reading this far, and if it makes you change anything. 💙
@Mayana If I can add?
This isn't JUST for social media. If you have a website/webpages/write books that are available in e-format, etc this all applies.
I have a kid who frequently uses screen readers for school reading assignments and assignments with lots of graphics in them tend to be an absolute pain bc the text is ALWAYS referencing the map/picture/chart/thing, but the screen reader has no reference/info for the graphic and it makes the reading impossible.
@jessmahler Yes, definitely! Accessibility doesn't apply just to Mastodon, or just to social media. Image descriptions especially should be provided wherever that is possible. We need more of those!
Thank you for your thoughts. I am just one person and only thought of a few things, so additions from others are more than welcome.
Yes. It's sad how the pdf format has become so popular. It's an obfuscated, compiled, page description language. It is very good at what it does, but does not lend itself to indexing for screen readers.
Tex/latex style things should be the future from our past.
This seems to be like what @pizza_pal is attempting. @aldersprig @jessmahler
@gemlog @Mayana @aldersprig @jessmahler PDF is kind of the devil. About 50% of the computing that I've gotten paid for has, in some form, involved extracting structured data from PDF files, and it is not good.
It should be a lot better. One thing that is pretty interesting is TEI (Text Encoding Initiative). It is kind of like LaTeX, but more about the semantics of document layout.
@Mayana this may be a silly question, but how do you tell posts apart? i. e. where one post ends and the other begins. a while ago i tried the built-in iOS screen reader, it announced "landmarks" to me. but it only announced them after reading the text. i found it very inconvenient, as you hear the text first and only then get told it isn't related to previous paragraphs. how do other screen readers do it?
@Mayana oh, and another one if you don't mind. does the capital letter in the beginning of a sentence change the way it is read? is it the full stop that terminates the sentence, or the full stop, space, upper case letter sequence?
@leip4Ier Hmm. That's a hard question to answer actually, because there's a lot of text to speech engines out there, and their rules for this differ.
For example, Eloquence, eSpeak and RHVoice seem to ignore the full stop if the next word after it is not capitalized, where as Microsoft's voices and DECTalk separate the sentences the same way regardless of capitalization.
But of course, I only tested this with a couple sentences. Since I use eSpeak regularly, I can tell you that sometimes, it ignores capitalization, too. There is no logic to be found here! :)
@leip4Ier Both approaches make sense; some languages finish their abbreviations with a period, and pausing isn't desirable there. But people are lazy, and don't like capitalizing things. :) So I can't say either side is doing it wrong.
I'd say that, whenever possible, try using correct grammar. It'll be more easily readable for everyone. Not just blind people; dyslexic people, those for whom English is not the first language, and grammar nazis, too!
@Mayana i see, thanks! that's unfortunate, always using lowercase letters is somewhat personal to me (and many other people too, as far as i can tell)...
@leip4Ier Personal how, if I may ask? Just a way to rebel against the rules of the English language, or ...?
@Mayana more against the smartphone keyboards capitalizing everything automatically, even when it isn't necessary :)
for me there's also a personal story, but i don't wanna talk about it on fediverse
@leip4Ier Isn't there a way to disable that though? There definitely is on mine. But, being a grammar nazi, I obviously keep it turned on for convenience.
It is a pain when writing poetry, though. That format does deserve some more freedon.
And of course. I didn't mean to pry.
@leip4Ier Can't speak for iOS, as I don't use it, but I assume that's something that can be changed in the settings? It definitely can be in Talkback; by default, the name of the element is read first, and the type and state after that, but I was able to change it to state, type, name.
On Windows, the type of the element is read first. So for example, "button Reply to thread"
@leip4Ier On Android, at least with Tusky and Fedilab, each toot is its own object, and is read all at once. I actually don't bother searching for them on the screen most of the time, just swiping left and right to get to the next element.
As mentioned, on Windows I generally move with arrows. Figuring out where one toot ends and another begins isn't a problem at all; there's an username before each one, and several buttons after! :)
@Mayana i see, thanks for the answer! i couldn't figure out how to separate posts on my website: there're visual borders, but not anything for screen readers (except for the post dates, which also act as links). so i decided to add those landmark labels. now after your reply i'm worried those landmarks are just annoying and the date would be enough..
i think i'll try installing NVDA myself and looking at how it's works in mastodon and pinafore :)
@leip4Ier The best way to separate them would probably be headings. At least on desktop, that's one of the main things I use when trying to skip to content that interests me (h key).
Navigation by links (k, or u for unvisited and v for visited) is also possible, but if you also have links inside your posts, slower.
As is, of course, navigation by landmarks using the d key, though those new to screen readers might not remember to use that.
If you want, you can send me the link to your website and I can take a look. There are also tools for checking its accessibility. I'll see if I can find them.
@leip4Ier Maybe take a look at this?
Here are a few simple accessibility tips:
And here's this awesome longer guide by @thomasorus:
@Mayana it displays mastodon posts, so headings aren't an option...
I would be very grateful if you could do that! The link is https://purr.neocities.org. On the main page there's the "see demo" link, you can click it and it should say "showing your toots" in a couple seconds. That's the page with the posts.
@leip4Ier That does show up fine. Although, there is no username before the date. Is that intentional?
No, I guess using landmarks (or complimentary landmarks, as they're read here) isn't really necessary in this case. The post privacy and date make the start of the next post pretty clear. Though it does make it easier to skip to the next post, as I've mentioned.
Hmm. Maybe you could put these in a list? Then people could use the letter i to move to the next/previous list item.
But if not, then link navigation works well enough.
(Sorry for the late reply; I had it mostly written, but then something came up.)
@Mayana yeah, it is intentional, bc these all are posts by the same person (supposedly the user). Boost, favorite and bookmark pages have usernames at the top of each post, as those may be from different people.
I see! I think I'll keep the landmarks though if they aren't annoying.
I'm not sure about a list, I'll look into it. It's an interesting idea, usually only menus and lists are done using lists, so I didn't even think of that as an option.
Thanks a lot! Good to know it is usable :)
@leip4Ier Interesting. I don't recall seeing any posts with an username at all; maybe there were no boosts/favorites, but maybe I was just not paying enough attention when reading. I'll check again in a bit.
Well, to be fair, I don't know how distracting a list would be visually. It was just a suggestion, and I am no web dev.
The landmarks are slightly annoying in the sense that they are read for each post, and "complimentary landmark" is two words, which is a bit distracting even when the speech is at a high speed. But they are the sort of thing people could get used to.
I'll have to check the guides I sent you. The one from Thomasorus will surely have some better alternatives than lists.
@Mayana boosts and favorites are on separate pages, there should be links at the bottom of the page.
Lists can be styled very differently, I think most (sighted) users usually don't know when the element they're interacting with is implemented as a list. So that probably won't be an issue. And it would make sense logically, as the page is basically a list of toots.
Oh, that's no good!
@Mayana I think I'll read the links tomorrow, I only skimmed through them for now. Previously I tried to follow WCAG guidelines, but those don't say much about such cases. Or maybe I missed the place where they did...
@leip4Ier It's entirely possible they don't; this is a pretty specific case.
No rush! And feel free to ask if you ever want more opinions, and I'll make sure to boost it. I'm far from the only blind person on here, and there are some blind webdevs around.
@Mayana thank you! :)
@leip4Ier Oh, you're right! I'm sorry, missed those links. Everything shows up fine, then!
I'm glad to hear that wouldn't be a problem. :)
@Mayana I installed NVDA and am testing a list-based implementation. Turns out the complimentary landmark was not the toot itself, but the "aside" element with the date and post visibility. So I think NVDA doesn't even see toot containers as landmarks, even though iOS' VoiceOver does. This also explains why it doesn't read the post number (I thought it would do that).
@Mayana in my test implementation it reads list items in one go, which seems inconvenient to me. But you say you read toots that way on your phone, so maybe it isn't actually bad. Other than that it works fine. I think I need to do more research before deciding on a solution, HTML accessibility turned out less straightforward than I expected it to be.
@leip4Ier There should be options for reading by word, line, paragraph and such. There definitely are on Android, by swiping up or down. I think on iOS you access the settings menu VoiceOver has by making a sort of half-circle shape? Not sure though.
@leip4Ier That's interesting, since reporting landmarks and regions is turned on by default. But I've definitely been able to access some landmarks before that hadn't been reported, so I guess that makes sense.
For example, on Mastodon's web interface (at least in advanced view) the headings for Notifications, Home, Local Timeline and such are also landmarks apparently (they can be navigated to using the D key), but aren't reported as such.
@Mayana sorry to bother you again, but I thought you might be interested in my findings. It turns out that NVDA doesn't report article tags (I use them for toots) by default, but that's configurable! Reporting can be enabled in settings in the Document Formatting category and hotkeys for article navigation can be set by opening the gestures dialog from a browse mode document.
@Mayana I guess I'll keep it the way it is on my website, as other screen readers support article navigation out if the box and I think link navigation is a reasonable compromise for NVDA users. I'll remove the complimentary landmark though, it's annoying.
@leip4Ier@infosec.exchangeOh yeah, didn't even think of that!
I've definitely seen that option sometime, but after experimenting chose to keep it disabled because of how many articles there were. It's been a while though, I need to test again.
Thank you for doing so much research into this! Pretty impressive, honestly. :)
@Mayana what about the letters used to represent the planets?
@Mayana what about putting multiple exclamation marks, question marks & a combination of those 2
@Mayana What Having many emojis in a post?
@Mayana what about wrong spellings, or different like instead of pay my keyboard autocorrected to gay for reasons unknown to me for now
@Mayana What about using hewwo instead of Hello & nya instead of a Yes or yeah?
@sidd_harth0_5h4h They are read as they should be read, I think. So not a screen reader issue.
But wait ... nya means yes? But it starts with a n! This is news to me.
OK. 😌 Last "What if?" question. I must admit that when I said people could send them, I did not expect someone to send me 5 ...
Anything else? :P
@Mayana Its mostly because I like nya because its what cats do they nya which is similar to meow, mew or miau.
@sidd_harth0_5h4h For wrong spellings, it depends. Some read as the correct spellings, some slightly differently, some so differently that I have to read by letter to understand what the hell was meant.
As for autocorrect, well, it is as confusing for me as it is for any sighted person. It's not a screen reader thing, after all. Just a Guess What Word Was Replaced thing.
@Mayana With context people do understand the word that was auto corrected like from pay to gay with context is understood that gay here is actually pay. Regarding spelling errors, they happen & I rarely if ever correct those or the auto corrections for that matter.
@sidd_harth0_5h4h Rather lazy, don't you think? But well, it is your choice.
@Mayana Lazy indeed, & I feel that accessibility is essential but the tech isn't putting accessibility as a default nor does it begin with accessibility. Same goes with most people including me. There's no excuse for making things inaccessible for me atleast.
@Mayana I realize that I do make things inaccessible unnecessarily, I don't have any reason to make them inaccessible. I do it because I feel they convey a different meaning. Like saying rather posting would be more accurate "hewwo" instead of a "hello" has a slightly different meaning for me. I read "hewwo" as more friendly & soft than a "hello".
@Mayana Its different meanings that get conveyed but in the process or rather in the pursuit of those different meanings the thing becomes inaccessible. I do believe that things should be as accessible as possible, when thinking rationally but feelings take over the rational mind most of the time.
@sidd_harth0_5h4h Like I said, hewwo is not less accessible.
To me though, it comes accross as, hmm, more sillier? 🤷♀️ But that's just a personality difference.
@sidd_harth0_5h4h It can be annoying, yes.
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