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The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

Accessibility on the fly

The problem

I use a screen reader. I do, really, and i must admit, 99% of web sites drive me to spare. Even though i don’t like to admit it, even my own does. Time to explain.

The problem is with branding, and introductions, welcomes, about me and links etc etc. This sits above the main content on most pages.

Now, speaking for myself (and only myself of course) I have that content there for a number of reasons. Design wise it is useful, and SEO / keywords wise it is useful. However after the first landing on the site it is no longer important.

Some Ideas?

When i am using my screen reader I have to listen though the introductory content which i do not want to do. I can hear you all shouting now saying that i could do a “Skip to content link” I could break logic (for the content) and reorder the content or i could do one of many other methods to sort the issue.

The thing which gets me with almost all of the methods (except maybe the ones in the comments you will correct me with) have the major disadvantage as for when i do want the content its not where I want it. If i was to be going to the site for the first time, i would want to hear the introductory content only on my first page landing?

A Solution?

So with this in mind i was thinking about how i could manipulate sever side technologies, semantic markup and CSS to give me the content i want. After thinking for a while for a decent name, all i could come up with is Accessibility on-the-fly.

What is accessibility on-the-fly?

So in the terms of my first usage case (Introductory content on this very site) i need a system which would know if this is your first visit to the site; as such reorder the page content accordingly. To this end i would create a system whereby the standard page design would not have the introductory content then, if a new visitor arrives on any page they will be greeted with the introductory content.

The bit i would be doing different is to still have the introductory content, but placing it lower in the source order.

The idea behind this is to improve the accessibility of the page. No longer should i need to listen to the introduction, or a click a skip to content link.

What do you think?

As is my standard practice, I have only been cooking this up for a few hours. I would be interested in your responses or usage cases? Do you think you could do accessibility on-the-fly

Published: 13 April 2008 | Categories: , Permalink


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