Note: To access this page in the future, just press Alt+0 if you use Internet Explorer, or Alt Shift 0 if you are in Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. And depending on what browser and screen reader you are using, you may still have to press the enter key on the link after pressing the shortcut key.
What you can expect on this page
Introduction to website accessibility
First of all, BlindStreet.com is designed and being maintained by one visually impaired person from the Philippines. All he has is his imagination as his tool, and little background in HTML, CSS, PHP and WordPress. The result? This website that he believes is very accessible for persons with disabilities (PWDs)who use assistive technology to access the site.
Of course he’s not taking all the credit for all the work done on Blind Street. There are times that he asks for sighted assistance for the visual design, and to check whether the code he put actually worked or not. There was this one time that he thought everything was alright since the screen reader he was using was acting perfectly fine while he was navigating the website. But when he showed the webpage to a sighted person, that’s when he discovered a big problem.
Advice for blind webmasters
Our advice to other blind webmasters out there, is to be responsible and always check your webpage for errors before publishing or saving. This should be a warning for all of you who use assistive technology like a screen reader, in making or designing a website. That a screen reader performing as expected doesn’t mean that everything is ok. We understand that there are some of you who were born totally blind and never seen a site design. So the best thing to do is to ask for help especially when dealing with visual aspects. It is very crucial for (blind webmasters) to perform this action before a webpage or even the whole website goes live on the net. Because no one wants a site full of clutter, and no one’s going to read it (if it is a blog) if the design is bad in the first place.
Accessibility features of BlindStreet.com
We know it is not perfect but we’d like to let you know that we put a lot of effort just to make Blind Street.com accessible for everyone. So these are the following modifications and changes we’ve made regarding website accessibility:
Blind Street accessible search feature
It took us a few days to figure out how to do this on this website and we’re very happy that finally, we were able to implement the accessibility feature for search on Blind Street.
Where ever you are on the website, you can now press Alt+s to go directly to the search field to find what you’re looking for. After typing, just press enter.
Note: You can still press the letter E to find the edit fields available.
Note: For Firefox users, the shortcut key is changed to Alt Shift s.
Before you could ask us, we’re going to answer the question why we didn’t put a shortcut key for the search button. The webmaster feels that it is totally unnecessary because when a user is on the edit field, he or she can just press tab and spacebar to activate the button. Or press enter immediately after typing. It’ll be easier than to press two keys on your keyboard.
Accessing different regions of the website using a screen reader
BlindStreet.com utilizes the ARIA technology as well as the new features of HTML5 to make it easier for screen reader users to navigate the website. We just hope every screen reader user knows how to use this feature already.
We put a label on every region to let the users know where they are and to help them locate the area they want. Just press semicolon (;) or shift semicolon if you use JAWS 14 or earlier, or R if you use JAWS 15 or later to jump to a region. You can also press insert+ctrl+R to list all the regions and use the arrow keys until you find the region you are looking for. Regions that have the proper labels are the navigation regions, the main region, a specific section like the meta information, and the footer area. For example, you want to go directly to the main region. All you have to do is press the letter Q.
Skip links and heading elements
We also put skip links (both at the very top and at the very bottom) of the page to jump quickly to a particular spot; useful for screen reader users. We also added heading elements for different sections like the navigation sections. This is to make it easier for a screen reader user to locate them by just pressing the available screen reader heading keyboard shortcut or gesture feature.
Using only few fonts for the whole website
we used a maximum of three fonts here on Blind Street. This is for us not to confuse our visitors who are low vision or those who don’t have a perfect eyesight. We only use fonts to emphasize a specific item, and also to deviate from the default a bit.
We also put proper alt text for images you find on Blind Street
We hope that what we’ve done is enough already. But if you think you have something more to say about the alt text for images, we are always open for any input.
We tried to put a descriptive text on every image as much as we could, but there were times that we couldn’t justify it. So we decided to abandon the idea for some particular cases, and just put the appropriate title to allow the visually impaired users of the site to at least know something about the image.
Proper naming of a page
We also made sure that what you see on the title is what the content is really all about. We optimized the page title to accomplish this and we are happy with the results.
Blind Street is really for persons with disabilities in the Philippines
We will try to be consistent not only when we say this, but expect us to prove that we really care for the community a lot as the owner of BlindStreet.com himself is also a PWD. Website accessibility is our priority on Blind Street, however this doesn’t mean we are willing to sacrifice the visual aspect just to accommodate our needs. We strongly believe that if the accessibility feature we want to put on our website will have a big impact on how a webpage will look, first, we will think of another way. Then if we really see that the idea is impossible to implement without the risk of affecting the design, we will abandon it; we won’t do it.
To wrap up, again the two shortcut keys you can use on BlindStreet.com are Alt+s or Alt Shift s depending on what browser you use to perform a search, and Alt+0 for Internet Explorer users or Alt Shift 0 in Firefox or Chrome to access this page.