Website Accessibility, v2

Ways People Use the Web

Jon Kuperman

Jon Kuperman

Website Accessibility, v2

Check out a free preview of the full Website Accessibility, v2 course

The "Ways People Use the Web" Lesson is part of the full, Website Accessibility, v2 course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Jon discusses the various ways people use the web including keyboard only, a head wand, mouth stick, single switch, and a screen reader. Student questions regarding if it can be determined if a user is using assistive technology and if all websites and applications would benefit from becoming more accessible are also covered in this segment.


Transcript from the "Ways People Use the Web" Lesson

>> So yeah, let's next look into all the different amazing ways people use the web. And I wanna kind of go over these and then maybe we could stop and have a little discussion on what the impact of that is or what you think about when you think about these different ways.

So the first way that people use the web is keyboard only. This can be a lot of different folks, folks that struggle to use a mouse for numerous different reasons. It also can just be oftentimes power users that are just trying to get keyboard shortcuts to move faster through their their day-to-day jobs.

So when we think about keyboard-only users, we think about folks that aren't able to use the mouse. So I wanna think about is everything on your website accessible keyboard only? I'm not sure. Are there things that you can only click on but you can't maybe tab to or something like that?

I also wanna think about things that are very quick to do in a mouse. For example, scrolling to the bottom of a page and clicking on a form. That might take forever to do on a keyboard if you're just tab, tab, tab tabbing all the way through. Other folks use these really great assistive technologies like a head wand.

So for that you can basically think about a user having a keyboard and accessing it with a wand on their head. So again, the things we talked about before become even more important, like how many keystrokes does it take to do something? And is everything doable via keyboard only?

Other folks use a mouth stick, these are popular with tablets, as you can see in the picture, same idea as a head wand. So again, we're kind of thinking about these things. One of my favorite pieces of technology is a single switch. And folks use this that aren't able to use a keyboard.

And so it literally is just one button. So if you imagine one of those, like a virtual keyboard that you can bring up, the accessibility keyboards. So you hit the single switch once and it starts going row by row down the virtual keyboard highlighting the row. And then you hit it again and then takes that row and saves it and starts going column by column through.

So you could think about it like the tilde row. I'm just looking at my laptop, the Q row, A, and then you hit the switch again and it goes into A, S, D, F. Then you hit it again and it sends an F. And so again, you can imagine that folks using the keyboard like this would really benefit from anything you can do to make it less keystrokes to get to the piece of content that they're looking to get to.

And then the last one that I wanna cover for now is a screen reader. And so a screen reader can be a completely nonvisual way of interacting with the web. So it's software that works on your laptop, your phone, your iPad, whatever. And it will read out in an audio format, it'll read out all the content that you're accessing.

And then users will input just using their keyboard. So it'll say, hey, this is a form, please enter your first name. And then the user will, using a keyboard, type their first name and hit next Next. And then it'll say, okay, hey, this is a form, enter your password.

So you kinda have this dialogue going with the screen reader. Does anybody have any questions about those kind of formats or how they work or what people would use them for? The question was, we have ways with browsers of sniffing out things like is the user on a mobile device?

Is there a way to sniff out things like is the user using a screen reader? Or is the user using assistive technology? At a very high level, the answer is no. There's no API that says if a screen reader or something like that. But there are really clever ways that we can speak directly to assitive technologies.

So I do have some examples coming up of that. But one thing that you could think about is, if you could put a piece of content at the very top of your screen and hide it with CSS, but it's still there with HTML, and you say, hey, screen reader user, check out this link for keyboard shortcuts or something like that.

Which is something we do when I was working at Visually, you will not be able to see that. But as the screen reader starts reading all the HTML, the very first thing it'll read is that. And so we'll cover how to do that. But yeah, the kinda big answer is no, there's not a guaranteed way of doing it.

But there are some really cool tricks that we can do to speak directly to users using assistive technologies. That's a great question too. So just to repeat is thinking about all these different devices, does it mean that kinda anything that you're doing is gonna benefit all of the users using those devices?

The short answer is absolutely yes. I think that we really see these very clear trends. Which is, for example, right now we're looking at, can you do everything via keyboard? And how much time are you willing to put into neat ways of making it take less keystrokes to do that thing, right?

And so we have a section later on power user keyboard shortcuts and things like that. But yeah, absolutely, we're really looking at the same thing, despite a wide array of devices. We're just looking at ways of making a keyboard only, making it read really nicely to a screen reader, and making it take fewer number of keystrokes.

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