I wanted to bring attention to one of my passions, accessibility, and a project which aligns right to it.
Twitter has become one of the most popular and quickest social networks to integrate your university or business with. You would think the simple 140 character limit messaging service would be available to all but there are a few issues that are hindering a certain user group in this powerful network. This group is not intentionally neglected online but because programmers are more concerned with adding features that require a certain level of ability and managers are more concerned with saving a buck or a few hours of time this group gets overlooked.
The issues with twitter.com are not as crippling as an “all flash” site but these small details show when developers understand accessibility and have an attention to detail. Don’t get me wrong, twitter.com is far more accessible than a great deal of sites out there. Below is a list of a few of those details, you might not agree with all of them but its these details which make the difference.
Some Twitter.com Accessibility Issues
- No keyboard access to favorite/reply/delete
- Lack of headings
- Custom colors may not be readable
- Code doesn’t validate
- Code could use better semantics
- Password field is missing a label;select lang missing label
- Fieldsets used without legends
- Layout width is static not flexible; doesn’t “stretch” with browser width
A great site created by Denis Lembree which is currently in alpha stage aims to fix these issues. Using purely the public twitter API Dennis has created an accessible version of Twitter. The site http://accessibletwitter.com/ aims to fix all of the issues above and continue to support and advocate for twitter to be accessible to all. Below is the current progress of the project.
- All links are keyboard accessible
- Simple, consistent layout and navigation
- Large default text size and high color contrast
- Looks great in high or low resolution
- Forms are marked up for optimal accessibility
- Code is semantic, light, and adheres to Web Standards
- + More every day
Are these issues going to hinder Twitter from going mainstream? No, but our job as web professionals is to be the best at our craft and that means including everyone. Take a look at the recent Yahoo! article WebAIM Survey Shines Light on Screen Reader Usage to get an idea of the usage of these elements by screen reader users. Most web developers/project managers have never seen a user use a screen reader on their site, if you are interested in watching one there is a video available from the November 19th Refresh Detroit meeting, it’s pretty interesting stuff.
A users experience goes beyond their visit to your site, if something is hard to use they will tell their friends, make sure ever users experience on your site is a positive one, they will thank you.
Checkout Accessible Twitter at: http://accessibletwitter.com/