"Meta Accessibility" - How to Make Accessibility Features Known to the User

Frank Ralf's picture

What if your site is perfectly accessible but no one knows about it?

This question came up while working on Accessibility improvements for vertical tabs , together with some first thoughts on this issue.

This has always been the problem with access keys and other kinds of "invisible" (i.a. not Point&Click) navigation.

In Editable Accesskeys and More on Accesskeys Jacques Distler argues that accesskey keyboard shortcuts, to be usable, need to be 1) discoverable and 2) modifiable.

Gez Lemon made that into a Greasemonkey User Script to Manage Access Keys.

I'm wondering how we could provide some of this functionality in Drupal.



The challenges of access keys

mgifford's picture

Hey Frank,

Thanks for this. I do think the idea of user definable access keys is brilliant. I think there are two approaches for this (but I can only find one at the moment). There are still some organizations that have policies in place for the use of access keys, even though this can cause accessibility challenges for some users. Being able to set up a system that is flexible enough for anyone to set their own definitely puts control where it is needed.

There are a few Drupal modules that address access keys:

Pretty sure none of these are user definable.

Liked your links above. I would think the best place for this right now would be:

Although the user definable access key article was written in 2006 or something like that, I don't know if it's been adopted many places. Greasemonkey is a very powerful plugin, and would be a very useful ad-on.

And yes, discoverable is key, but not sure that any site (other than one geared for people with accessibility challenges) would want to dedicate the screen space for a list like:

<dl id="AccessKeyList">
<dt>0</dt><dd><a href="/~distler/blog/accessibility.html" accesskey="0">Accessibility Statement</a></dd>
<dt>1</dt><dd>Main Page</dd>
<dt>2</dt><dd>Skip to Content</dd>
<dt>3</dt><dd>List of Posts</dd>
<dt>p</dt><dd>Previous (individual/monthly archive page)</dd>
<dt>n</dt><dd>Next (individual/monthly archive page)</dd>

Would have to be heavily customized for every site and couldn't be just hidden away for screen readers.


Modular Accessibility

Frank Ralf's picture

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the feedback and for pointing me to those modules. Yes, I think such a module would be a good place for these enhancements. See also Automatic access keys.

In addition to the creating the Accessible module, John Barclay also compiled this useful list: Contributed Modules to Help with Accessibility.

I think such a definition list could very well live invisible "under the hood" of a web page and be made visible only when required, but that's just an idea.

I've been made aware (again) of the power of Greasemonkey when seeing Dreditor at work.


So much progress

mgifford's picture

Must say that so much has happened on accessibility issues in Drupal in the last year! Hadn't even seen many of the changes in the Contributed Modules to Help with Accessibility page.

This was the other user defined approach I remember seeing - http://www.blether.com/archives/2006/02/userdefined_acc.php

Only way I can think of prompting some sort of help is if someone is tabbing through a page. After 10 tabs outside a textarea you can be pretty sure that the user isn't using a mouse I would think.

That being said, not sure how to make that list visible... There are lots of ways to do it, but no common Drupal way.