Jul 15

Accessible Android Inputs with Material Design

Google has done an admirable job defining the Material Design style guide. They’ve also begun rolling out new APIs that make it much easier to implement the interaction designs within Android and HTML. However, there are still some gaps. This article looks at the popular Text Input for Android interaction. Please note: the code in this article is not fully documented and the best practice may change as the Google Accessibility team updates their documentation. Consider this a beta pattern and I will gladly update it as we learn better practices.
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Jul 14

Enable full keyboard access on your Mac

This article was originally written by Todd Kloots for the Yahoo! Accessibility Lab. It answers a very common problem for Mac computers and has been re-printed within the Intuit Accessibility blog with permission from Yahoo Accessibility.

Full keyboard access isn’t enabled by default in Mac OS. Often this leaves developers thinking there is something wrong with the implementation of keyboard access for a site or application, when in fact it is just a matter of changing a few system and browser preferences.

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Apr 01

The low-vision experience with an iPad

I’ve met many small business owners with low vision that love using an iPad, or other tablet, as their key device. The iPad allows entrepreneurs to use a single device to handle all of their business tasks, such as point of sale, payroll, accounting, purchasing, and creating estimates on location. As a person with low vision, the built-in zooming functionality makes it easy to explore the screen and interact with the elements.

Karo Caran introduces how a person with low vision uses an iPad in this video

She recently created this new vidoe for a presentation on design for low-vision users. There are some key takeaways, such as consistency of banners and using background colors to differentiate between header, body, and footer.

Inheriting user preferences

While zooming is a great way to review content, not all low vision users want to use their applications in this manner. Many simply want to user the built in settings for higher contrast, bigger text, and reduced transparency to use their iPad without continually zooming in and out.

Your applications can automatically inherit these functions if you use standard iOS/Android components and the iOS Dynamic Type. If the app isn’t using Dynamic Type, we’ll need to check for a user’s display preferences and modify the fonts, colors, animation, etc.

Bold Text

The following code checks to see if a person has bold text enabled in their preferences. If so, use Avenir medium instead of light

+ (NSString *)fontName {
    if (UIAccessibilityIsBoldTextEnabled()) {
            return @"Avenir-Medium";
    return @"Avenir-Light";

Darker Colors

We can detect if a user prefers darker colors, this is especially helpful for links that sit on colored backgrounds

+ (UIColor *)detailColor {
    if (UIAccessibilityDarkerSystemColorsEnabled()) {
        return [UIColor blackColor];
    return [UIColor grayColor];

Additional Checks

Feb 05

Keyboard Accessibility with the Space Bar

Keyboard accessibility is critical for your users that depend on voice recognition, onscreen keyboards, screen readers, ergonomic accessories, and your power users that prefer to avoid grabbing the mouse for every task. Most people test to make sure every interactive element can receive focus via the tab key and that buttons and links work with the enter key. We’ve gotten pretty good at making sure links have href attributes and using role=”button” on our pseudo-buttons.

But this doesn’t cover a significant portion of keyboard accessibility: the space bar. This page includes various interactive elements to see which ones will work with a space bar.

As developers, you don’t have to worry about whether an element works correctly with a spacebar if you use the proper, semantic tag. But if you find yourself re-assigning roles with ARIA than you may need to listen for the space bar key.
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