Accessibility and inclusive design should be the first considerations when designing a digital product, service or website. A full list of categories is also available.
Article posted 30th November 2023 in Accessibility
There’s a common misconception that everyone who uses screen reader software is blind; that’s mostly the case, but not always.
Article posted 31st October 2023 in Accessibility
Retro-fitting accessibility is far from ideal but usually the only way digital products are able to reach all of their potential users.
Article posted 31st July 2023 in Accessibility
Accessibility is a great measure of mature, disciplined software production, and Twitter have become a good example of the opposite.
Every idea comes from a good place, but some well-intended features are actually bad for usability; limiting form field input is one of those things.
The whole point of VoiceOver is that it talks out loud, but sometimes you need it to be quiet for a moment.
Did you know there’s a way to make VoiceOver on a Mac behave like VoiceOver on an iPhone or iPad? No? Let me introduce you to Trackpad Commander!
I’ve written about Increased Contrast Mode and Windows High Contrast Mode, but what’s the difference? And where does Forced Colours Mode come in?
In order to make my website’s keyboard focus outlines pretty in Safari, I inadvertently broke things for people who use Windows High Contrast Mode.
Article posted 17th February 2023 in Accessibility
I often hear the phrase “forward fix” used when referring to accessibility. It sounds fancy, but what it really means is “We’ll come back to the accessibility bit later”.
Knowing when to use a button or link is important, and there’s some great guidance out there. Here’s another way to work out when to use which.
Links sometimes need to look like buttons, but what about the other way round? Spoiler alert: it’s a terrible idea!
When an interactive element like a button, link, and form field sits on top of another interactive element, accessibility (and usability) problems arise.
‘Alt’ text is vital for people who can’t see an image, but what about those who don’t use a screen reader but still struggle with low contrast images?
Image alt text is extremely important to many users, but how do we know which images should be described, and which shouldn’t?
We can all agree that icon-only buttons are a bad idea, but how do we provide the most accessible experience when we pair an icon with visible text?
Whenever we design a non-standard but seemingly helpful behaviour, keep asking yourself if it’s the right thing to do for all users.
Just as not all disabilities are visible, accessibility goes much further than the tools people use to access digital content on a practical level.
As a designer and developer I’ve made countless mistakes, but that’s part of the reason I’m good at what I do.
Article posted 2nd September 2022 in Accessibility
There’s some great stuff coming up in WCAG 2.2, but there’s one rule that’s particularly difficult to understand, so here it is in a bit more detail.
Every now and again I read an article that links to multiple places, and each link is a separate word in a short phrase. I’m not a fan.
Article posted 18th July 2022 in Accessibility
We can all agree that abbreviations like acronyms usually need to be defined, but what if the HTML method we use isn’t accessible to all users?
Article posted 13th July 2022 in Accessibility
Complying with WCAG AA is hard, and AAA seems a lot harder, but there are actually plenty of AAA rules that are relatively easy to meet.
Accessible animated GIFs are rubbish. Instead of compromising our animations in order to meet WCAG, we should be checking what our users prefer.
Article posted 23rd June 2022 in Accessibility
While it’s true that WCAG represents a solid baseline, there’s a lot more we should be doing to make our work truly accessible.
Article posted 20th June 2022 in Accessibility
Icon-only buttons don’t fail the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), even though I wish they did, but what about icon-only links?
Article posted 16th June 2022 in Accessibility
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) ensure that buttons have a programmatical accessible name, but it doesn’t have to be visible.
Article posted 20th April 2022 in Accessibility
There’s a commonly held idea that HTML is accessible out of the box, before any CSS has been applied. Unfortunately, that isn’t quite the case.
Article posted 9th April 2022 in Accessibility
CSS Naked Day is a day when all website owners should strip their site of CSS to expose the ‘naked’ HTML underneath.
Article posted 23rd March 2022 in Accessibility
A follow-up to my post on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, level AA; this time covering the rules that make up the stricter level AAA.
Article posted 16th March 2022 in Accessibility
Is the term ‘a11y’ inherently inaccessible? Well, yes and no. It can come in very handy in some circumstances, but it should be used with care.
macOS 12.3 and iOS 15.4 landed yesterday, and with them came Safari 15.4 and some exciting new features. Here are the five that stood out to me.
Article posted 21st February 2022 in Accessibility
A follow-up to my post on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, level AA; this time explaining the nine rules coming up in WCAG 2.2.
Safari is the last browser to support the
:focus-visiblepseudo-class, and with that support comes a huge accessibility win.
Article posted 28th January 2022 in Accessibility
An as-close-to-a-single-paragraph-as-I-can-manage summary of each rule in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, version 2.1, level AA.
Design is a hugely responsible role, and one responsibility is ensuring everyone can use our websites, products, services, and applications.
Language is a powerful thing; if the metaphor we use to describe actions to our users is ‘click’ we tend to forget about all those who don’t.
I like to use invalid HTML and ARIA as a design constraint; a line I can’t step across. Sounds obvious, but in practice it’s not always that simple!
Links without an
The last major version of this website was a complete behind-the-scenes rebuild. This version, on the other hand, is almost entirely visual.
Satisfying the enhanced contrast AAA WCAG rule can be limiting; luckily
prefers-contrast: moreallows us more freedom with our default themes.
A bug with link text colours in Safari’s HTML-only Dark Mode theme means we need a bit of extra code. Here’s how to patch things until it’s fixed.
When our CSS contains Dark Mode rules and the file fails to load, we’re left with plain old HTML. Luckily we can request Dark Mode in our markup!
Tables can be tricky to make work responsively; they can also be tricky to make accessible. Here’s a step by step guide to making your tables both!
Struck-through text isn’t read by screen readers. This is true of all text-level semantics, but it’s worth drawing attention to strikethough.
Article posted 2nd April 2021 in Accessibility
Emphasis and other text-level semantics are normally ignored by screen readers, so it you’re relying on them for meaning you could be in trouble.
I’m a fan of good typography, and something I come across a fair bit is whether sentence case or title case is better for headings.
Article posted 10th March 2021 in Accessibility
I love those old-school ASCII art characters, but I’ve stopped using them as they’re not accessible.
So what on earth is a
<section>element actually for? The answer isn’t as obvious as you might have hoped, but it’s definitely straightforward.
The other day, I realised the scroll markers were invisible on my website in Light Mode. The fix was pretty easy once I knew what was going on.
If you’re new to VoiceOver, once you’ve got the hang of the basics, the next thing to learn is the ‘rotor’; a supercharged navigation tool.
Understanding how screen readers work is important for anyone who works on digital products. Here’s how to get started with VoiceOver on macOS.
Article posted 8th January 2021 in Accessibility
Animated GIFs are everywhere, but are they accessible to everyone? I’m afraid to say, they’re not, and we probably shouldn’t be using them.
Article posted 30th December 2020 in Accessibility
COVID-19 changed the way we work. Now that we all work from home, remote team members report feeling more included, and I’ve noticed another benefit.
I have a list of all the commands for Voice Control for macOS, and it comes in handy pretty much every time I do any speech recognition testing.
Respecting your users’ preferences with
prefers-reduced-motionis great, but what about users with older operating systems and browsers?
A summary of the things missing in CSS got me thinking about how lack of some form styling may have seriously damaged accessibility on the web.
If we remove the list markers from an ordered or unordered list, we’re likely to run into some issues with VoiceOver.
Article posted 6th October 2020 in Accessibility
A great way to start accessibility testing is to navigate with the keyboard. Safari is limited by default, so here’s how get it working properly.
Article posted 5th October 2020 in Accessibility
I’ve just set up a new Mac, and keyboard navigation is pretty limited by default. Here’s how to make it much more useful.
A link should look like the text around it, but with a couple of differences: maybe a bit of colour and (almost) always an underline.
Last year, I wrote about implicit ARIA roles; an issue I encountered was that VoiceOver didn’t give an implicit role to footers. Well, it’s fixed!
My most anticipated iOS 14 feature wasn’t mentioned at WWDC 2020, but will sort my biggest issue with iPhones X and above: Control Centre access.
There’s a bug in Safari that adds an implicit role to
<address>which causes problems for screen readers. The good news is, a fix is very close!
Semantic HTML is great. But sometimes following the rules is tricky. Grab a cuppa and let me tell you a story about links that look like buttons.
What is a document outline? Sounds complicated, but it’s really not – it’s just headings! Find out more about them and why they’re a good idea.
Article posted 20th February 2020 in Accessibility
A couple of recent CSS-Tricks articles got me thinking about how website owners prioritise their legal (and moral!) obligations to their users.
Article posted 6th November 2019 in Accessibility
Colour contrast on my site now meets WCAG AAA, in light or dark mode. There have been compromises but, if it’s more useable, I’m happy to make them.
I’ve cared about accessibility for as long as I’ve been working in the web and, even after all these years, I still enjoy learning new things.
Semantic HTML is hard. We stopped using
<b>elements in favour of
<strong>, but are
ARIA landmarks give a screen reader user an easy way to orient themselves on a web page. Implicit roles are also great. Except when they’re not.
Accessibility is important, so I’ve taken steps to minimise animation on my site, and even removed it completely for those who ‘prefer reduce motion’.
Performance matters. If your website loads slowly it could be costing you business, so make sure it works for even the slowest of internet connections
You might have noticed that if you search for something on Google on your phone there’s a new ‘Mobile friendly’ label.
Every site I build is now mobile friendly and allows the editing of all content by default. This is for a few very good reasons.
Resource posted 19th November 2012 in Accessibility
Responsive web design is when the content of your website is laid out differently, depending on the size of the screen your visitor is using. Catering
Resource posted 3rd November 2012 in Accessibility
Just like in ‘real’ life, your visitors come in all shapes and sizes. Inclusivity is—rightly—front and centre for businesses these days.
Useful ‘alt’ text on images will not only keep your visitors happy but has happy knock-on effect on your search engine ranking.
Resource posted 26th August 2011 in Accessibility
Some visitors to your site will use out of date browsers. Is it worth catering for these visitors? Here’s how to make an informed decision.
Resource posted 28th July 2011 in Accessibility
One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the use of smartphones. How should your website cater for these devices?
Resource posted 27th July 2011 in Accessibility
So what’s all this fuss about Internet Browsers? Maybe you, like a lot of people, you didn’t realise there was a choice…