I’m finding out that some of my concerns about screen reader accessibility probably are relatively inconsequential because most vision-impaired users who use a screen reader will have JAWS, Window-Eyes, or some other expensive screen reader with ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) support. Dojo has built in accessibility features that I can’t usually experience with WebAnywhere. I feel a little bit stuck, like I need to just assume that Dojo is going to cover all the bases for Accessibility where I can’t test it. It would be nice to have access to all the common screen readers, but I know our budget won’t allow it.
I’m struggling with this a bit because I feel like my technical knowledge isn’t enough to really give me what I need regarding Dojo, etc. In fact, I don’t really understand what parts of our interface are determined by Dojo code or widgets’ default settings and what parameters were defined by our programmers. An example of this is a misconception I had about the menu. I noticed that it had tabindex=-1 for many of the menu items which prevents keyboard access, but I assumed it was assigned by Dojo and that there was a reason for it since I couldn’t see what ARIA support was in place. Wrong. Apparently it was assigned by a developer who was most likely thinking of users who have both keyboard and mouse access. Most of us wouldn’t want a menu to be included in the tab order because we’d use the mouse to click on it, but we need to keep the design at a level where it is accessible for more. Without learning Dojo and/or digging through our code, it is challenging to try to understand enough to make recommendations. I still have a few pages to investigate furtherthat don’t read properly with WebAnywhere.
I’ve also been trying many of the pages on DrProject with keyboard-only navigation with a fair amount of success. The tabindex on the menu was the only significant problem I discovered.
Thanks to David Bolter for some help with getting started understanding Dojo and accessibility. Only two weeks left… I hope to get further in that time!