Tag: quite

“All these things are quite easy to do, they just need somebody to sit down and just go through the website”

I saw a video posted on Twitter from Channel 5 News in the UK (I have no idea what the credibility of them is, it’s an ocean away from me) with anchor Claudia Liza asking Glen Turner and Kristina Barrick questions about website accessibility.

Apparently, they often post videos with captions, but this particular video doesn’t (ironically). So, I’ve transcribed it here as I found them pretty well-spoken.

[Claudia Liza]: … you do have a visual impairment. How does that make it difficult for you to shop online?

[Glen Turner]: Well, I use various special features on my devices to shop online to make it easier. So, I enlarge the text, I’ll invert the colors to make the background dark so that I don’t have glare. I will zoom in on pictures, I will use speech to read things to me because it’s too difficult sometimes. But sometimes websites and apps aren’t designed in a way that is compatible with that. So sometimes the text will be poorly contrasted so you’ll have things like brown on black, or red on black, or yellow on white, something like that. Or the menu system won’t be very easy to navigate, or images won’t have descriptions for the visually impaired because images can have descriptions embedded that a speech reader will read back to them. So all these various factors make it difficult or impossible to shop on certain websites.

[Claudia Liza]: What do you need retailers to do? How do they need to change their technology on their websites and apps to make it easier?

It’s quite easy to do a lot of these things, really. Check the colors on your website. Make sure you’ve got light against dark and there is a very clear distinctive contrast. Make sure there are descriptions for the visually impaired. Make sure there are captions on videos for the hearing impaired. Make sure your menus are easy to navigate and make it easy to get around. All these things are quite easy to do, they just need somebody to sit down and just go through the website and check that it’s all right and consult disabled people as well. Ideally, you’ve got disabled people in your organization you employ, but consult the wider disabled community as well. There is loads of us online there is loads of us spread all over the country. There is 14 million of us you can talk to, so come and talk to us and say, “You know, is our website accessible for you? What can we do to improve it?” Then act on it when we give you our advice.

[Claudia Liza]: It makes sense doesn’t it, Glen? It sounds so simple. But Christina, it is a bit tricky for retailers. Why is that? What do other people with disabilities tell you?

So, we hear about content on websites being confusing in the way it’s written. There’s lots of information online about how to make an accessible website. There’s a global minimum legal standard called WCAG and there’s lot of resources online. Scope has their own which has loads of information on how to make your website accessible.

I think the problem really is generally lack of awareness. It doesn’t get spoken about a lot. I think that disabled consumers – there’s not a lot of places to complain. Sometimes they’ll go on a website and there isn’t even a way to contact that business to tell them that their website isn’t accessible. So what Scope is trying to do is raise the voices of disabled people. We have crowdsourced a lot of people’s feedback on where they experience inaccessible websites. We’re raising that profile and trying to get businesses to change.

[Claudia Liza]: So is it legal when retails aren’t making their websites accessible?

Yeah, so, under the Equality Act 2010, it’s not legal to create an inaccessible website, but what we’ve found is that government isn’t generally enforcing that as a law.

[Claudia Liza]: Glenn, do you feel confident that one day you’ll be able to buy whatever you want online?

I would certainly like to think that would be the case. As I say, you raise enough awareness and get the message out there and alert business to the fact that there is a huge consumer market among the disabled community, and we’ve got a 274 billion pound expenditure a year that we can give to them. Then if they are aware of that, then yeah, hopefully they will open their doors to us and let us spend our money with them.

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Nobody is quite wrong.

There are two opposing views on using non-polyfillable new web features that I find are both equally common in our industry:

  1. Websites don’t need to look the same in every browser. The concept of progressive enhancement helps with that. There are tools, even native language features, that help with this.
  2. If browser support isn’t where I want it to be, it’s just exotic eye candy for demos and not to be used.

I’m not sure I’d say either one of these is more or less correct than the other.

I also imagine it doesn’t come as much of surprise that I support the thinking behind #1. It’s perfectly possible to design and implement things that behave differently in different browsers and conditions. That’s essentially what responsive design is, and that’s pretty much the entire internet now.

The backbone of progressive enhancement is starting with a working foundation that works everywhere and layering design and functionality on top of that, when possible. There are even native language features to support the idea. @supports rules allow us to write CSS that can do something if a feature is supported and do something else if it isn’t.

This is the entire use case for Modernizr and it has 22,804 stars.

I don’t want to argue against progressive enhancement. Remember, I just said I support that thinking. But I do have some empathy for people and teams that choose not to go there, and end up developing more of a #2 attitude.

It is a bit more work to develop and design features that work in different ways. It might be work that is absolutely worth doing. Or it might not. Either way, it does complicate things. It’s more code, it requires more attention and testing, and it’s a bit harder to reason. It’s technical debt.

Let me be preemptively defensive again: technical debt can be fine, and even intentional. We all incur it in everything we build. My point is that it is helpful to be smart about it and take on an amount of technical debt that is feasible for you to look after in perpetuity.

You might argue that building on a progressive enhancement foundation is, in a sense, less technical debt because you’re building on such a sturdy foundation that less testing and constant tending to is required. Perhaps!

I do get behaving like a #2. It feels safer. It feels like you’re being cautious and responsible. “Hey that’s neat,” you think. “I’ll revisit it in a few years to see if I can use it for real.” I might argue that 1) that’s no fun and 2) almost counter-intuitively, it means you aren’t willing to take a progressive enhancement approach which may make your code ultimately more frail.

It depends, I suppose. It depends on what exactly you’re trying to do. It depends on the weight of that techinical debt. It depends on the team and the rate of developer churn. It depends on documentation. It depends on testing and QA.

You do you.

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