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Sunday, August 24

Both Gordon and the Olympics fail disabled web users

HT: Ian Cuddy.

Downing Street's move towards a more 2.0 version of its website has left behind part of its audience - disabled web users.

More4 News hired Ability Net to run tests and it appears that little attempt has been made to cater for this slice of the electorate, it was obviously not part of the site-build plan otherwise at least something would be there in the new site.

More4 says they were told that "they actually spent more on researching that [accessibility] than building the site". Er, apparently not. But other errors are truly basic usability mistakes.

Says Ability Net:

  • Some links open in a new window with no warning which can confuse the inexperienced user or those with a cognitive difficulty.
  • The No. 10 TV page includes multiple videos, none of which have text transcripts or captions (subtitles) for the hearing impaired. Moreover, they aren't able to be used from the keyboard (In internet Explorer at least) which is a major flaw for those unable to use a mouse.
  • The site is almost unusable for those with a vision impairment when text is set to the 'Largest' setting (in Internet Explorer) - with text in both the navigation and page content becoming overlapped and difficult to read.
  • No pages checked had valid HTML code which can cause problems with a range of access technologies - such as screen readers (used by blind visitors) and voice recognition software.
  • A 'skip to content' link is available, but as it is permanently hidden, keyboard users are not aware it is there and hence still end up pressing the Tab key numerous times to get through the navigation to select a link in the main part of the page.
  • The virtual tour of No. 10 is an embedded interactive 'Flash movie' which has not been coded correctly. With unlabelled buttons, and minimal descriptions of what is being viewed, blind users have no access to this feature.
Very galling for other egov workers when the government has threatened to remove domains from sites which fail basic accessibility checks.

Here's Ben Cohen's report:

Ability Net has also found the Beijing Olympics website lacking. Recommended reading for explaining exactly what the frustrations are for end users.

I wonder if they'll (both of them) be sued?


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