The accessibility bugs project – good start, more to do

Written By: Peter Abrahams
Content Copyright © 2011 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: Accessibility

A group of a11y (the accessible way to write accessibility) specialist have decided to try and get the browser manufacturers to fix browser inconsistencies that impact on a11y.

There are a variety of inconsistencies that need resolving so the project has decided to start with three problems related to alt text on images and are asking for everyone who cares to sign the petition. You can see the detail at a11y bugs project and I would urge you to sign.

I have two comments:

  • I wish the project had used some petition software such as PetitionScript although there may well be better examples. The software gathers signatures and verifies them which gives a much greater level of trust in the list of signatories. The problem at the moment is that we have no idea if the people are real (except for the names I recognise) and the numbers could be bulked out by anyone. Collecting emails would also enable the project to announce progress and further actions.
  • I am sure that the alt text bugs are important but I have another issue which is a real problem for me relating to on-page-links. I use them for ‘jump to content’ links but they are used a lot for other reasons. My belief is that the way they should work is that when you click on an on-page-link the focus should move to the link target and then if you press tab the focus should move to the next tab-able item on the page. Firefox works this way, Internet Explorer works OK as long as the target is coded as an anchor; the problem is with Safari and Chrome, which return focus to the original on-page-link and is of no use, and with Opera? that ignores the link completely.

I would propose that the a11y bug project tackles this issue next as it can be of significant benefit to many users.

Note: if you want to test out the on-page-link problem then go to the OneVoice website. Press tab and a ‘skip to main content’ button will appear in the top left (unless you are using Opera), press enter and the focus will move to the content, press tab again and if you are using FF or IE focus will move to the Seven Steps link which is what you would expect. If you are using Safari or Chrome, focus moves to the username input field, which is what would have happened if you had not pressed the ‘skip to main content’ button at all, not a useful reaction.