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US Supreme Court hands victory to blind man who sued Domino’s over site accessibility

Adam

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What are your thoughts on this ruling?

I’m hearing of many lawsuits popping up to US businesses in response to this new light being shone on website accessibility.
Last year, more than 2,200 such suits were filed in federal courts, according to the accessible technology firm UsableNet, nearly tripling the number a year before.
I think accessibility is important and isn’t hard for informational sites (web apps can get complicated!) when it’s thought of from the get-go. I do think that a lot of newcomers in to the industry diving straight in to JavaScript frameworks without a proper understanding of HTML fundamentals first are going to be missing out on a lot of knowledge that I suspect many businesses are going to be taking a lot more seriously.

It’s frustrating how the law seems to be mostly subjective at the moment and hasn’t committed to a particular standard such as WCAG.
 
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Gummibeer

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My problem is that there aren't any developer tools, which I know, to really test a site as blind, color-blind or whatever. There are tools which say attribute XYZ is missing. But I don't know any to really test it. And most importantly nothing to integrate in CI workflow to force an accessibility standard!? 🤔

Except of this I agree that it's important to don't discriminate!
 
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Dominic

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I think, it's not that easy to do a really accessible site. You have to test it with a page reader, have to know aria (which i found very confusing) and have to know about color contrast. And more. I found it difficult, because I don't have the problems myself (like not being able to see) and it's hard to get into such a perspective. I'm used to see websites, I don't know how it is to surf just with a page reader. And I don't have friends or family members with these restrictions.

That said, I would find it interesting to work with blind people for example and to help them have a better web experience.
 
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VickiLanger

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if you’re a big company, whose website is basically your business, you have no excuse. There are standards. Follow them. Why wouldn’t you want your site to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible?

If you’re in web dev and learning, you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s hard to know what the standards are because there is so much information that isn’t the same everywhere.

Overall, I don’t think you should be required to make your site accessible. I think it should be accessible, but it’s your loss by not making it so. Then again, if a brick and mortar store is required to have certain things, like ramps or inclines, then the equivalent would to have screen reader accessible sites.

Sounds like a job for the ADA, for the US, should be addressing this. I imagine requirements would apply to registered businesses, just as it does for brick and mortar.

Edit: I’ve learned a bit since I originally responded to this. For the US, the ADA already requires businesses to have accessible sites.
 
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Dominic

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I would be an interesting exercise to surf the web just with a page reader for one week ;) I think some organisation should organize such things. And there should be better information material on the web. Everytime i looked into aria, i didn't like it at all. I'm not sure if it's a good standard.
 

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I would be an interesting exercise to surf the web just with a page reader for one week ;) I think some organisation should organize such things. And there should be better information material on the web. Everytime i looked into aria, i didn't like it at all. I'm not sure if it's a good standard.
Exactly this is what I meant. And installing one is one part. But for larger projects you have to automate it in CI. Except of any tool that checks for given attributes on defined tags I can't imagine a real test!?
 

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The best thing would be to work with affected people themself. They would check the website and give feedback. Like a user test. I guess this would required organization and money. Very hard to do for small sites and single freelancers. But for big companies and sites, that would be totally feasable. I would like to do that.
 

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My problem is that there aren't any developer tools, which I know, to really test a site as blind.......
The first thing you can do is to try testing your website by putting the mouse away and using the keyboard instead, as people have to who cannot hold a mouse due things like arthritis, muscle weakness, hand tremors and so on. (Tab key and Shift+Tab to navigate, and Enter and/or spacebar to action buttons and links.) Do this on a large website made using a framework or one with complex interactive components and you will realise why a half of all websites are unusable by keyboard users. Try filling then making payment for a shopping cart for instance.

Next, the best way to test a website from a blind person's point of view is to use a screen reader. That tells you exactly what blind people are hearing. NVDA is a free screen reader you can download, all you need is headphones. It's good, so much so that it is second only to JAWS in popularity among blind people so you are getting the real thing there.

But I would advise trying it out first on websites you know have been made fully WCAG compliant, so you get to hear the extra information screen readers put in for them. Then when you start to use it on any other commercial website that has not been made accessible, and you will begin to realise why disabled people have such issues over websites.
 

Adam

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The first thing you can do is to try testing your website by putting the mouse away and using the keyboard instead, as people have to who cannot hold a mouse due things like arthritis, muscle weakness, hand tremors and so on. (Tab key and Shift+Tab to navigate, and Enter and/or spacebar to action buttons and links.) Do this on a large website made using a framework or one with complex interactive components and you will realise why a half of all websites are unusable by keyboard users. Try filling then making payment for a shopping cart for instance.

Next, the best way to test a website from a blind person's point of view is to use a screen reader. That tells you exactly what blind people are hearing. NVDA is a free screen reader you can download, all you need is headphones. It's good, so much so that it is second only to JAWS in popularity among blind people so you are getting the real thing there.

But I would advise trying it out first on websites you know have been made fully WCAG compliant, so you get to hear the extra information screen readers put in for them. Then when you start to use it on any other commercial website that has not been made accessible, and you will begin to realise why disabled people have such issues over websites.
Such great information, thanks @Guy Hickling! I see that NVDA is Windows only, what would you say is the most common screen reader for Mac that would be good for testing with? Is the built-in VoiceOver sufficient?
 

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@Guy Hickling it's still not a tool to really work with. It's just how to test a site.
But this isn't usable for large scale projects to test everything by hand. Except of sites like dominos which can provide a whole QA department.
I think the problem with automatically testing is that accessibility isn't a machine issue it's a human issue. Much in the same way that you can't test for good visual design.
 
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We have AI which can learn how to drive cars, walk robots and translate different languages.
In IT we have AIs to compare PSDs with HTML results. But we can't create one to test page navigation by pressing tab?
 

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We have AI which can learn how to drive cars, walk robots and translate different languages.
In IT we have AIs to compare PSDs with HTML results. But we can't create one to test page navigation by pressing tab?
Fair point!

@Guy Hickling have you seen any advances in anything like AI/machine learning accessibility testing to help start discussions about issues beyond basic HTML rule checking?
 
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tom

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@Guy Hickling have you seen any advances in anything like AI/machine learning accessibility testing to help start discussions about issues beyond basic HTML rule checking?
Adam, yes, on MacOS the built in VoiceOver is an excellent screen reader, and is built in to the system so, working with the built in Safari browser, has the best chance of working well with accessible markup. It is what blind people themselves use so again, you are testing what they are actually going to hear. But I don't work on MacOS systems so don't know how well it compares with with JAWS ior NVDA on a PC - probably not very different I imagine. We are testing the markup accessibility, not different hardware and software combinations.
 
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Guy Hickling

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Regarding the comments about finding test tools to do our testing for us, yes it would be nice if that were possible, and it would certainly save me a lot of work. There are many automated accessibility test tools on the market, including Axe and the Microsoft offering that have been mentioned above. But these tools can only ever test about 25% of the accessibility issues found on an average website. Too much is too complicated for software to understand, and too much is subjective. In most cases it needs humans to understand whether something is working correctly or not.

For instance one of the first things in accessibility is to provide alternative text on images, to convey the same information to blind people that the image is giving to sighted people. Image recognition is still very much work in progress. If the image is of horses in a field but the image alt text says they're cows, there's no software that will pick that up. And images are just one small part of the testing to be done.

Could AI take this job on? Certainly they use it for learning to drive cars, but that is funded by companies like Google and the big car manufacturers who can plow billions into their projects. The web dev world simply does not have that kind of money to devote to it, though Google and Microsoft and Apple are already doing a lot in accessibility so maybe they might decide to develop an AI powered test tool one day.
 
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Gummibeer

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That's true. But 25% is better than nothing. And 25% automated coverage is also more than most companies get in their code coverage which is even simpler to reach. 😅
And the alt text part: I know several developers/companies who use "this is an image" (or similar) as alt text. But I would say that this is intended abuse and shouldn't be covered by a test tool - they won't fix it even if a tool reports it.

So yes, there's more space to improve. But I would say that we would have a much better world if "all" would use axe or what else exists to test a site (without clicking through it for hours and test it manually).
 
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I certainly encourage use of these tools by the developers, as a first (and very easy) check of their work for the issues the tools can find. So long as the web dev department as a whole know they need to go to a qualified human tester to obtain a full range test to make their website accessibility compliant.

One of the problems, in the US for instance, that I see on a regular basis, is that countless numbers of companies believe these tools are all that's needed. In a country with a huge wave of lawsuits against websites in progress, as the original post in this thread said, that is a very unfortunate misunderstanding to have. One large US corporation lost their entire ADA lawsuit because they'd only tested with an automated text tool!
 
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