Day 8: WCAG Understandable

It’s Friday! And I’ve managed to balance my time just enough to dedicate to study for a week straight. I’m trying not to bounce around too far afield, so I’m back at studying WCAG, acknowledging I’m past the halfway point.

At this point, I’m gaining a lot more confidence in myself and the hope of passing this test. I should interject that I’ve been actively learning about web accessibility over the past year and a half just through Googling, applying that mindset to every project I touch, and listening to accessibility experts.

Things I accomplished

What I learned today

  • No guidelines or success criteria were appended to the Understandable principle within the WCAG 2.1 update.
  • I’ve found that many of these success criteria are well-applied across the web. At least in web projects I’ve collaborated on.
  • I found one app on my iPhone that is inaccessible, but at least they tell on themselves in a “secret message for screen readers” and recommend a different app. (Spoiler: it’s Libby, and they recommend using Overdrive instead)

Day 7: Learning VoiceOver on iOS

While I’m learning about how how some users perceive and operate pages, I think it’s a good time to start diving into some of the assistive technology (AT) that people use. A week ago I had a more cut and dry approach to the WAS Body of Knowledge, as seen on my Google calendar, but now I’m discovering a more natural overlap of ideas as my own curiosity grows and I attempt to apply these ideas in a useful and concrete way.

To start, I spent time with Apple’s VoiceOver (VO) on my iPhone. Why this particular AT first? Honestly, I needed it during work today to test and share with others. Secondly, it’s one I have the least familiarity with. It’s hard to go against how I normally use my iPhone! Yet, enough motivation and time has slowly brought me around and made me also think more on how this AT can lend itself to benefiting everyone in the screen-less world we are presumed to be heading into.

Things I accomplished

  • Successfully navigated my iPhone using VoiceOver without looking at the screen or giving up too easily out of frustration.
  • As part of my bi-weekly duties at work, wrote a short accessibility blurb meant to introduce librarians, archivists, and museum staff to VO on iPhone (not yet published at the time I’m writing this).

What I learned today

  • VO has a screen curtain mode that turns the screen off, while the functionality continues. This offers added privacy or could save battery power. Careful! I scared myself, not being able to toggle my screen back on. Fortunately, I’d practiced navigating beforehand and listened my way through Settings to turn VO off, which resolved the issue. Phew!
  • Practiced at least 5 ways to interact with my iPhone using VO:
    Gesture Desired Behavior
    Swipe down with 2 fingers Start reading continuously (from this point on)
    Tap with 2 fingers Stop reading
    Rotate both thumbs in sync (like a dial) Scroll through rotor for list settings and navigation options.
    Tap with 1 finger Select item
    Double-tap with 1 finger Choose item or activate button
  • I can comfortably listen to VO at a speed of 60%.

Food for thought

  • It seems to me the visually impaired have to sacrifice a bit more of their privacy just to accomplish what people, who don’t use screen readers, can accomplish on a daily basis (everything is read aloud).
  • Imagine if all of us practiced using VO. There could be benefits to not looking at your screen at every task, giving verbal commands for tasks, and gaining empathy and insight into how others interact differently with the same world.
  • I actually appreciated listening to, as opposed to looking at, some things. For instance:
    • small icons are often problematic for me to see, but VO suddenly brought clear definition to emojis and indicators that I may have only guessed at before,
    • I could listen to my email as I walked on my break, and still keep alert for what was around me, and
    • I could perform some tasks on my phone, without looking the screen lighting up the whole room, while my son drifted off to sleep tonight.

How you can learn to use VoiceOver on iOS

Day 4: WCAG Operable

Moving onto the second WCAG principle: Operable! 1.5 hours dedicated to studying today.

Things I accomplished

  • Read through all the Operable guidelines, success criteria, and sufficient techniques.
  • Added to my WCAG 2.1 POUR spreadsheet to include Operable.
  • Started drafting a blog post to sum up the perceivable principle as though I were explaining its what, why, and how to developers. Coming soon!

What I learned today

  • SC 2.2.2: “For any moving, blinking or scrolling information that (1) starts automatically, (2) lasts more than five seconds, and (3) is presented in parallel with other content, there is a mechanism for the user to pause, stop, or hide it” Carousels, I’m looking at you! I’ve never thought to create a hide option. Something to explore further, since it only makes sense to me to provide that kind of flexibility to users.
  • Guideline 2.5: Input Modalities. This was completely new to me! Of course, all those guidelines were added as part of the WCAG 2.1 upgrade, so I imagine that’s why. Admittedly, I’ll need to read about these more in-depth, as I’m not quite finding an immediate application to projects I’ve worked on in the past.
  • My undeveloped opinion: it would seem to me that 2.5.5 Target Size would be a no-brainer (in usability) and not nice-to-have AAA conformance level. I mean, it really benefits everyone (mobile users), right?

Making progress

Though I’m only two principles into WCAG, I’m actually surprised how much I already know and have applied in my web design/development work over the last 5 years. It goes to show that the best way to learn this stuff is working with others who know it, apply it, and care about it. It also hasn’t hurt to lurk in conversations about web accessibility on Twitter, Slack, and listserv emails. Those two factors have helped me advance forward, alongside the fact that I have close friends and family with various disabilities, who have helped me relate to the challenges many people face when navigating online.

Day 3: WCAG Perceivable, Part 2

Time spent studying today: 1 hour. Again, another weekend day that I successfully allotted time for study. I’ve been through three rounds of 100 Days of Code, a 9-month course on Udacity, and one round of 100 Days of A11y. I’m no stranger to dedicating time, figuring out a process, and sacrificing blocks of time I could’ve spent with family. However, I’ve seen what I can accomplish and how I can progress, so that gives me some confidence in continuing to put time aside to prepare in-depth for this challenging exam.

Things I accomplished

  • Closely read through all of the perceivable principle’s success criteria
  • Memorized the 4 guidelines under the perceivable principle:
    • Text alternatives
    • Time-based media (audio, video)
    • Adaptable
    • Distinguishable
  • Added to my POUR spreadsheet to include more techniques

What I learned today

9 out of the 29 success criteria in the first WCAG principle are Level A. It’s like reading, “these are just the basics, folks, which gets you almost a third of the way there”. Yet if they’re so basic, why aren’t all web designers and developers trained to meet the bare minimum to create websites that are better for everyone? Is it really so much to ask for alternative text for images, captions for video, or volume controls for audio?

Other new-to-me tidbits:

  • Logos and brand names are exempt from Contrast criterion (SC 1.4.3) and Images of text (SC 1.4.5).
  • Captions and images of text are exempt from the new Resize Text criterion (SC 1.4.4).
  • There’s a suggestion for appropriate audio contrast when it comes to foreground and background noise (see SC 1.4.7)

Day 2: WCAG Perceivable, Part 1

Day 2… a weekend day, which can make it harder to make time to set aside for studying. I did it, though, spending roughly an hour and a half working through documentation, mulling over only part of the first WCAG principle, and working toward visualizing the different guidelines, success criterion, and techniques. I didn’t get as far as I would’ve liked either, yet this is the deepest work I’ve ever done at combing through the WCAG docs.

Things I accomplished

  • Read through the Perceivable¬†principle in WCAG 2.1 documentation (normative and non-normative).
  • Started a spreadsheet to visualize relationships between principles, guidelines, success criterion, and techniques. Specifically I mapped out the perceivable principle.
  • Discovered¬†techniques that failed to meet criterion within the perceivable principle.
  • Dug into helpful solutions to common situations (satisfactory techniques) via W3C’s “How to Meet WCAG 2.1“. Seriously, this resource is extremely helpful for all those situations I’ve had to figure out how to be more inclusive, and the documentation is there to back up my decision when I have to present it to my team!

What I learned today

In the process of trying to memorize guidelines and success criterion, I reinforced the image of the layers that exist within WCAG:

Additionally, looking closer at each criterion helped me to identify the additions made to WCAG 2.0’s first principle:

  • Orientation
  • Identify input purposes
  • Identify purpose
  • Reflow
  • Non-text contrast
  • Text spacing
  • Content on hover or focus

When reading through the description about text alternatives, I ran across a concept new to me: “simpler language” is considered a text alternative under Guideline 1.1. Also, there are some identified exceptions to the text alternative guideline. Those exceptions apply to:

  • controls or input fields
  • time-based media
  • tests/exams
  • specific sensory experiences
  • CAPTCHA
  • decorative images or typography

Day 1: Initialization and WCAG Introduction

And here I go! To start off my journey to earn my Web Accessibility Specialist certification, I had to get myself in gear, get organized, and just start.

Things I accomplished

  • Launched this WordPress blog to make myself accountable to commit daily to web a11y study.
  • Set up a Google Calendar to keep myself on track to complete 80% of study materials by March 10, 2019, and beyond to April 3rd, when my exam happens (see my “How to Succeed” widget.
  • Read through WCAG 2.1 introduction non-normative).

What I learned today

Pyramid with 4 Principles as the foundation, 13 Guidelines, Success Criteria, and, lastly, Techniques.

  • WCAG layers of guidance include:
  • WCAG 2.1 updated 2.0 to be more inclusive of:
    • users with cognitive or learning disabilities,
    • users with low vision, and
    • users with disabilities on mobile devices
  • 17 new success criteria were appended to WCAG 2.0:
    • 1.3.4 Orientation (AA)
    • 1.3.5 Identify Input Purpose (AA)
    • 1.3.6 Identify Purpose (AAA)
    • 1.4.10 Reflow (AA)
    • 1.4.11 Non-Text Contrast (AA)
    • 1.4.12 Text Spacing (AA)
    • 1.4.13 Content on Hover or Focus (AA)
    • 2.1.4 Character Key Shortcuts (A)
    • 2.2.6 Timeouts (AAA)
    • 2.3.3 Animation from Interactions (AAA)
    • 2.5.1 Pointer Gestures (A)
    • 2.5.2 Pointer Cancellation (A)
    • 2.5.3 Label in Name (A)
    • 2.5.4 Motion Actuation (A)
    • 2.5.5 Target Size (AAA)
    • 2.5.6 Concurrent Input Mechanisms (AAA)
    • 4.1.3 Status Messages (AA)
  • An overhaul of WCAG is coming in a few year. In the meantime, 2.1 is the current recommendation, and 2.2 will be recommended shortly after that, before the new changes happens.