Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

WordPress Misses the #1 Accessibility Tip

Filed under: Blog Accessibility — by at 6:22 pm on Monday, September 28, 2009

Today I am fine tuning my “How POUR is Your Blog?” presentation for WordCamp Las Vegas at BlogWorld. In my original presentation I pointed out a flaw in the way the blogging platform WordPress handles alt attributes with images. With WordPress 2.8.4 now in widespread use, I checked to see if the issue had be rectified, in hopes of updating my presentation. Sadly, the issue remains unresolved.

Allow me to provide some background information… In web page design, the alt attribute provides a text equivalent for those individuals unable to see the image. For individuals who are blind and who use text-to-speech or text-to-Braille screen readers, having images represented as text is the only way to access that information.

In earlier versions of WordPress and now in version 2.8.4, the software continues messing up the handling of the alt attribute. When inserting an image into a blog post; the blogger is presented with the following dialog box:


in this box, the blogger can add information about the image and adjust how it will be displayed in the blog post.

The image file name is automatically entered into the Title, an required field. In the example above, the default title becomes “glendabooksbyglendacom_102c1971.jpg”. If the blogger does nothing else, the alt attribute also becomes “glendabooksbyglendacom_102c1971.jpg”. This means an individual using a screen reader will hear “glendabooksbyglendacom_102c1971.jpg” in place of the image. If the screen reader is set to also read image titles, the individual will hear “glendabooksbyglendacom_102c1971.jpg” twice!

Totally useless!

If the blogger changed the title to one more meaningful, the alt would also change. However, this is also incorrect. The image alt and the image title are not the same information. They serve different purposes in html: the alt provides the text equivalent, the title provides additional information about the image.

An image with a caption Similarly, if the blogger enters text in the Caption field, then that text becomes the alt text. Again this is wrong.

For example, when I first used the photo to the right, the caption provided the photo credit, whereas the alt read “Glenda reaching for a ring during a physio session", which provided equivalent information for when the image is not seen or not available. Again, the caption and the alt do not serve the same purpose and, thus, should not provide the same information.

Granted, bloggers could go into the html and manually add a correct alt. But, how many bloggers know enough html to do that? Likewise, how many would bother taking that extra step before hitting the Publish button?

WordPress could rectify this issue by simplifying the “Add an image” dialog box, making it more straightforward for bloggers to use and benefiting blog readers who rely on the correct use of the alt attribute.

I began in the web accessibility field back in 1998. Using alt attributes has always been the first tip I’ve offered when asked how to increase a site’s accessibility. For a blogging platform committed to accessibility, why does the #1 accessibility tip continue to be an issue? How can we be nearing the end of 2009 and still talking about alt attributes?

For tips on writing alts and other tips on increasing your blog’s accessibility, download the free ebook “How POUR is Your Blog? Tips for Increasing Your Blog Accessibility”.

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Just Announced: The Left Thumb Blogger Live in Vegas!

Filed under: Blog Accessibility,Social Media — by at 5:30 pm on Thursday, September 24, 2009

Featured speaker at BlogWorld and New Media Expo 2009, October 15-17, in Las Vegas

After months of anticipation, the details are finally finalized: I am presenting at WordCamp Las Vegas at the BlogWorld & New Media Expo. Yes, the Left Thumb Blogger live in Vegas!

Together with WordPress’ parent company Automattic’s “User Interface Goddess” Jane Wells, who will be appearing via video, and Damien Patton, founder and CEO of (plus countless other projects on his plate!), we will be presenting the “Three Faces of Blog Accessibility” . We’ll be discussing blog accessibility from three perspectives:

  • barriers bloggers with disabilities face and tips for increasing your blog’s accessibility;
  • benefits to businesses for implementing the web accessibility guidelines; and
  • the blogging platform WordPress’ commitment to accessibility accessibility.

Please join us!

When: Saturday, October 17th, 2009, at 1pm
Where: Las Vegas Convention Center, towards the back of the Exhibit Hall

I’d like to thank BlogWorld Co-founder and CEO Rick Calvert and BlogWorld’s Social Media Director Jim Turner for including accessibility on the blogging agenda, and john Hawkins for welcoming our panel presentation onto the WordCamp Las Vegas schedule. Having blog accessibility included at such an event is a huge step forward for increasing awareness of this issue.

See you in Vegas!

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Are Multiple Themes Useful in Improving Blog Accessibility?

Filed under: Blog Accessibility — by at 2:00 pm on Monday, August 24, 2009

Glenda Watson Hyatt presenting at WordCamp Fraser Valley A big kudos goes to Gary Jones of BlueFur Hosting for organizing a fantastic WordCamp Fraser Valley! And, a special thank you for including blog accessibility on the agenda.

Meeting other local bloggers was great. And, listening to all of the fabulous presenters I realized that the more I learn about WordPress, the more I still have left to learn. If you missed my rockin’ presentation, the ebook “How POUR is Your Blog?” is now available. Go grab a copy!

Response to my presentation was amazing. One idea offered during a break was that blogs could have two themes, one which is simpler or scaled back, and thus more accessible for some readers.

Instantly I cringed inwardly. My mind flashed back to the “text-only version” days, which many designers saw as the only solution to web accessibility, when, in fact, it was the lazy way out. Providing text-only versions may have benefited individuals who used screen readers, but they did not adequately and appropriately accommodate people with other types of disabilities. And, oftentimes, these scaled back versions of websites did not provide all of the same information or it wasn’t updated on the same basis as the regular websites. Text-only versions ghettoized people with disabilities.

However, now that I have had a couple of days to mull it over, perhaps the suggestion has some merits. Because of the nature of blogs, the theme controls the design and layout, the wrapping; the core content (like the posts, comments and such) would remain the same. By offering a choice of themes, readers could choose how they view the content and still participate in the same blog community with fellow readers.

I’m now seeing this option similar to a lower service counter for people in wheelchairs and those of a short stature, rather than a separate entrance with inferior services. But, similar to the aisles still needing to be wide enough in order to get to the lower service counter, the core content and other features would still need be accessible.

What are your thoughts on this? Could this work? Are there any potential limitations or drawbacks? If you have seen this done elsewhere, please share links. I’m curious to see what this might look like.

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The Left Thumb Blogger is off to WordCamp

Filed under: Blog Accessibility,Blogging — by at 1:24 pm on Monday, August 10, 2009

Saturday, August 22nd, I am off to camp; WordCamp, that is.

“What is WordCamp?” you ask.

Great question! According to The WordCamp Report, a WordCamp “is a 1 or 2 day conference for WordPress users and developers. The focus is on how to be a better blogger, on the development and future of WordPress, and other topics of interest.”

View of SFU Surrey from myy home office window WordCamps take place in places around the world. This particular camp, WordCamp Fraser Valley, is being held at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus (SFU Surrey) – mere blocks from home. I can even see it from my home office window. No transportation hassles this time – woohoo!

I’m not only attending WordCamp, I’ll also be joining the line-up of local speakers by presenting “How POUR is Your Blog? Tips for Increasing Your Blog’s Accessibility”. This presentation rocked SOBCon: Biz School for Bloggers in Chicago back in May!

If you’re anywhere near the vicinity of SFU Surrey on August 22nd and if you blog or are considering blogging, come join us for WordCamp Fraser Valley. Tickets are still available.

Hope to see you at camp!

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What Makes a Blog Theme Accessible?

Filed under: Blog Accessibility — by at 2:23 pm on Thursday, August 6, 2009

For the past several months, I have been itching for a new theme (design and layout) for my blog. This theme is not as accessible as it should be. The code doesn’t validate and other accessibility features are lacking – and this is really frustrating me, given what I do when I’m sure not blogging.

I have tweaked this theme as much as possible without knowing any PHP programming. Learning to design my own themes is definitely on my to-do list, eventually. Until then, I need a theme that is more accessible – accessibility is a continuum, not an absolute – than this one.

I’ve searched and searched for accessible WordPress themes, with very little success. Then I began thinking, “What is an accessible theme? What criteria should a theme meet and what features should a theme have to be considered ‘accessible’?“

Before an accessible theme can be designed, the necessary requirements must be identified. Here’s a list that instantly came to mind:

  • The code validates with no errors.
  • A fluid design that displays correctly at different resolutions and on various monitors from large screens to small handheld devices.
  • Maximized colour contrast between the text and background to enhance readability.
  • Relative sized fonts, rather than fixed size, enabling readers to increase font size when needed.
  • “skip to content” and/or “skip to navigation” features to assist those using screen readers and keyboards to navigate the page more easily.
  • An attractive layout and design with plenty of white space.

However, this list is only a beginning. Allow this post to spark a discussion between blog readers with various disabilities, theme designers, web accessibility gurus, and whomever else is interested. Share your ideas and thoughts on:

  • What an “accessible” theme means to you?
  • What features does an accessible theme need to have?
  • What features would be nice to have?
  • What do theme designers need to know about creating accessible themes?
  • What questions do theme designers have about web accessibility? What information and resources do you need?

The floor is open. Let’s talk! All that I ask is that you be respectful of one another.

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