Accessibility Notes: FWD/Forward: Now With Bigger Fontification!

Readers may have noted today that the appearance of the site shifted around a bit (often between loading pages, in some cases). That’s because we’re working on making the text size more accessible, as part of our overall commitment to accessibility at FWD/Forward. To that end, we’ve implemented two changes which matter to readers:

  1. There is now a “Text Size” option in the sidebar which you can use to select a text size you feel comfortable with. Your setting will save so that the site should always load at the size you like when you visit. You can resize as often as you like, and you can also resize by hitting “Ctrl+” or “Ctrl-” at any time.
  2. The default font size at FWD/Forward is now bigger.

We appreciate the input of several readers who brought the font size issue to our attention (and pointed out some weird issues which happened with various elements on the site when the site was scaled up). Never hesitate to bring up accessibility issues in Administrivia posts like this one or by email to admin or administrator @ disabledfeminists dot com!

By 18 October, 2009.    administrivia   



11 Comments

  1. Hi,

    I have some tech questions, and hope this is an OK place for them.

    I’m in the process of creating a blog about feminist issues, and would also like to make my blog accessible, but am still learning about web accessibility. So far, I’ve been tinkering with wordpress and using themes that are marked as being designed with accessibility in mind. I’ve been focusing on making sure that the colors I use are readable for people with various forms of color blindness, that the HTML is clean and validates, that it does not rely on images, that any images I choose to use in my entries have alternate text, and that it has useful access keys.

    The text size changer sounds like it would be highly useful for a lot of people, and so I may want to install something similar on my blog. I was wondering whether its a wordpress plugin, and if so, which one.

    I was also wondering if you knew of any good resources about web accessibility in general. I’ve heard that the W3C web accessibility initiative is out of date, and I don’t really know of any other standards or other general resources.

  2. I can has big fonts in comments! Score! Thank you!
    .-= Tera´s last blog ..New blog of awesomeness =-.

  3. Hi Elana, it sounds like you are taking some steps in the right direction; other contributors can point you to some useful accessibility resources, but I would definitely recommend Wave, which you can use to evaluate your site.

    The text size changer is indeed a plugin: WP-chgFontSize, in fact.

  4. Thanks Meloukhia!

  5. Elana: Access keys are a nice idea, but in a lot of cases they can get in the way of accessibility because of badly-designed browser support for them. It’s usual for access keys to be called using Ctrl-key or Alt-key, which often interferes with browser shortcuts for other things. (Opera is the only browser I know of where the access keys won’t clash with other browser functionality) Also, most browsers don’t make it easy to find out what access keys there are on a page and what they do, so you need to advertise this in some other way.

    You seem to be considering most of the major areas already: the only other obvious technical one is making sure the site still works without Javascript. The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative guidelines are old, and incomplete (very little to help people with cognitive disabilities, for example), but still good in the areas that they cover.

    I’ve some experience as a web accessibility assessor/fixer, so while it won’t be a substitute for people with disabilities testing and assessing your page, I’d be happy to look over your code for some of the obvious things. Email me at cim-wa@compsoc.dur.ac.uk with your site URL if you’re interested.

  6. Awesome! Thanks!
    .-= Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D.´s last blog ..9/11 still killing =-.

  7. I also want to alert people to the fact that we are still working on accessibility issues; we are aware that the comments column becomes very narrow when people choose to view at larger sizes, and we’re going to fix that! If people have identified other problems, this is a good thread to mention them in!
    .-= meloukhia´s last blog ..Glee: Throwdown =-.

  8. Marvelous changes, folks! Thanks so much for responding so quickly, and to such a good end.

    As a large print user, increasing the base font size and the width of the comment area improves readability a lot.

    I also just discovered the joys of Opera; it permits me to switch between the site designer’s layout and a no-column, my colors & fonts layout with a shift-G. Wowza!
    .-= Jesse the K´s last blog ..Delightful New Resources =-.

  9. Cim –

    Thanks for the information about access keys. I’ll definitely reconsider whether or not to use them. I was thinking that if I do use them, I would have a link in the side bar that goes to a page that lists them, or that I would underline the word corresponding to the access key whenever they are used. But is sounds like they do more harm than good, due to poor browser support.

    I agree with you about making sure the site works without javascript… which also makes me a bit unsure whether to use the WP-chgFontSize plugin, because it relies on javascript.

    I guess one of the primary ways I’m going about this, is by making sure that the page still works when javascript, stylesheets, audio, and images are disabled. I figure this goes a long way towards making sure that my site works well with any adaptive technologies people might be using, as well as ensuring that people with visual or audio impairments can still access my site.

    The main advantage I saw with access keys, is that they allow people who may not be able to use a mouse to navigate my site more quickly, without having to tab through everything. Now I’m wondering if there is another way that is done, or whether it tends to be done on the user end with adaptive technologies, rather than on the web designer end.

  10. I second comments above about access keys.

    I’d also recommend WebAim.org as my go-to site for web accessibility information (they’re the ones who created the WAVE tool mentioned earlier). I’ve got a million other accessibility blogs that I monitor, and some experience with wordpress accessibility, so feel free to contact me at novembris at gmail dot com.

  11. Elana: something like WP-chgFontSize should be fine – it’s not essential to using the site if your default text size is already reasonable, and it’s still useful when it works. There are other ways to change font size using browser controls, of course. (Obviously, if there was an equivalent that didn’t use Javascript, that would be better)

    On tabbing/navigation: keeping the number of links per page relatively small can help, especially if the important ones that might get an access key are relatively early in the tab order (re-order the page rather than using tabindex, though: tabindex can end up being rather counterintuitive, and it’s a pain to maintain). Putting a heading marked up with h2..h6 at the top of major links of lists can be useful for navigation in some browsers (as can using h1..h6 for headings properly in general)

    One option that doesn’t have the usability problems of access keys is <link rel=”…”> tags in the <head>. Support in browsers is unfortunately very variable, but some people might find them useful and they’re not harmful if the browser doesn’t support them.