Wednesday, 9 March 2016

How to make blogs accessible for visually impaired

I only lost my sight at the end of 2015; seven years after I started blogging.  
Through all those years I thought I had a good clear layout
and that my blogs were accessible;
how wrong I was.  

How do visually impaired readers access online content?
There are 3 main ways which we access websites and blogs on our technology;
which we use depends on more our technology experience than our sight.

1. Colour Changes
Most Computers, Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones have factory settings
which can be changed to allow the colours to be changed;
this reduces the glare and increases the clarity of the writing.
What works is very much a personal choice
although some eye conditions benefit more than others. 

2. Enlarge with Zoom
Computers, Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones also provide the ability
 to enlarge the apps and websites using zoom.
This is fantastic, but means a lot more scrolling
is required when reading, which isn't easy with sight loss;
it also removes the 'whole page' view which most fully sighted people enjoy.

3. Screen reading software 
There are various free and paid for pieces of software.
These allow us to speak to post online and hear posted content.
I have only used this on my smartphone and tablet,
although I'm looking at getting some for my computer as well.




What difficulties do I have with reading blogs?
I have a few major bug bears about aspects websites and blogs:
1. Pop ups I can't close
So many websites and blogs have "sign up" pop ups.
These are clearly designed to catch your attention,
and are meant to be easy to close for those not interested.
But when I have zoomed into the screen the "close" button is normally
INVISIBLE
which leaves me with two choices; keep searching OR give up.
Guess which I do most of the time?!

2. Overly busy blogs I can't 'see'
I know that there are hundreds of blog templates available
and that it's tempting to choose something different
especially when you're trying to get noticed in the blogging community.
BUT please don't choose something busy or cluttered.
There is a blog I love which has tiles of posts all over their front page,
I used to love how it looked, but now I can't find anything.
It's completely inaccessible for me.

3. Invisible comment systems
When I read I want to comment; that's how blogging works.
I know that comments are made in forms,
normally found at the bottom of blog posts.
But you'd be amazed how many blogs don't have that setup;
which means I can't 'see' the comments box
and can't comment.
It makes me sad and also excluded.
Please make your comments area really easy to find.



Improvements you can make to your blog
Here are some of the changes I have made to my blogs so I could read them.
You might want to consider these for your own blog;
you might be surprised how many extra readers you get.

1. no pop ups
Say no to pop ups
unless they have obvious
"no thanks" or "x" boxes
for us to close them down

2. large font
My blog is now set at font 16
and even that requires me to zoom in.
Please don't have small font on your blog
14 is the minimum for good accessibility

3. basic fonts
I know there are thousands of fonts
and they are exciting and dynamic
and you want your blog to stand out
but please try to stay with something simple.
I know it's boring
But it will help those of us with sight issues
and anyone with dyslexia as well.

4. clear colours with good contrast
I can not over emphasise how much colour
and contrast
affect my ability to see text.
White on black is not great
I prefer yellow on blue
or blue on yellow
depending on how light sensitive I am.
I am not expecting you to use those colours,
but try not to put pink text on orange background
it's invisible.
Just give some nice contrast please

5. contrast retained even when links are clicked
This is a fairly new discovery for me
I had totally forgotten about the colour of links
once they've been clicked.
Please check these don't become invisible either

6. simple layouts in one column
I would love to see all blogs go back to basics
with one column of text and one side banner,
But if you need more than that, please ensure
it's clear and easy to navigate.

7. search box
A simple search box is such a gift,
it allows us to search for anything we can't 'see'.

8. obvious comments box
If something's worth saying,
it's worth saying twice.
Please make your commenting facility easy to find

9.large badges and widgets
Make your badges and widgets as large as possible,
we want to share the love
let us see how to.


And finally - cookie legalities
I hate hate hate hate the new requirement for blogs and all websites to pop up a notice about cookies.  I know that every website uses cookies, and I'm fine with that, please don't tell me and make me find the button or word to click to minimise it.
I hate hate hate this legal requirement.
It's such a barrier to accessibility.


I hope this blog post is useful, if you have any questions 
then please post them in the comments.
And if you have a visual impairment 
and have problems or tips 
then place them in the comments as well.
Thanks

David and Bill from Disability and Jesus 
have produced a wonderful document entitled
 "A guide to producing accessible publications for your church"
which contains great background, reasoning and advice
to help you make all written information as accessible as possible.
It's written to specifically help churches, but is a wealth of information for everyone.

Linked up at 
Brilliant Blog Posts

15 comments:

  1. This is a brilliant well written, thoughtful article which we are delighted to share. We would add only one thing, please do not move regular page features such as page numbers, titles etc as visually impaired people use such regular features to help them navigate a page. Thanks Emma!

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    1. Thanks for including that David, and for sharing this post. And even more thanks for your help amending my blog when I lost my sight.

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  2. This have given me lots to think about Emma, I am ashamed to say that it had never occurred to me that visitors to my blog may have a visual impairment. My text is definitely small on my blog (mainly because I am unable to change the size within my theme) I would like my blog to be accessible to everyone, so I need to think on this x

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    1. Don't feel bad, I never thought about it and my eyes were never great. I can't tell you how much it means that you want to try and make your blog accessible.

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  3. Thanks for speaking up and educating us. I have some eye issues too and appreciate your tips. Actually made some adjustments to my blog settings earlier today (increased type size for one thing) and will look into doing more to help the visually impaired.

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    1. So sorry you have sight issues as well, hope you're being well cared for. I am so glad this was helpful for you and your blog.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this information Emma. My son has a vision impairment and I'm becoming more conscious about the need to make everything more accessible for him. This is a great list for people to start with - thanks for putting this together.

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    1. It was a real pleasure Emma, it's always great to team up with someone who gets it and you do. Its great your spreading the word, keep it up.

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    3. Can I be cheeky and recommend this to those who want to know moehttp://www.disabilityandjesus.org.uk/ewExternalFiles/Clear%20Print%20for%20Churches%20final.pdf

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    4. Of course David, and I'll add it into the bottom of the post so no one misses it!!

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    5. Kirsty - we need to keep raising the awareness of what the world can do to make life easier with those of us with visual impairments; usually the changes are quick and easy and people are pleased to help.

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  6. Thanks for sharing this Emma. Really useful stuff to know, and put into practice.

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    1. Thanks Joanna, glad it was helpful

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