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A couple of thoughts on accessibility

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#68680 (In Topic #14582)

Honoured member

Really don't see a forum that this really fits, so I'm posting it here, and Chris, if its not in the right place could you please move it?

I don't know how many blind users are using OCPortal, but it has become my favorite CMS for building sites. As far as built in accessibility you won't find another app that even comes close. Don't bother even looking unless you've got a lot of time to waste. Trust me on this one. I've said it before, on more than one occasion, and I'll say it here again for those that have never read any of my post, Chris and the gang have gone out of their way to build accessibility in to their product from the ground up, and no other CMS even comes close. I have noticed that they have used JAWS as their bases, and that's cool. Us Window EYES users are used to being left out in the cold, but that's ok too. We know that Window EYES is the superior app and doesn't take the configuring that JAWS does. (wink) With that said there's a couple of things you can do to take advantage of that built-in accessibility. Before I begin, let me state that this is from a Window EYES user's prospective. I don't now, nor ever have, used JAWS and therefore cannot speak to that app. Also, this article is a work in progress and already has, and will be from time to time, updated as I think of relevant information that needs or should be added.

First of all, which browser works with OCPortal the best? Well that's kinda sticky from what I've seen. They both have their good and bad points, and neither of the two are completely 100% accessible. There are things that IE does better and there are things that Fire fox has it all over IE. With OCPortal I've found that Fire fox is the winner on this front, but there's still issues, and that's the browser's fault not OC Portals.

First thing you'll want to do is learn the built in hot keys of OCPortal. There's a link at the bottom of each default install that says , Keyboard Shortcuts. (Clever Ay?) Find another app that does that. I won't list them here, but there's (28) twenty eight  of them, and will make your life easier. In Fire fox you will need to use the alt-shift keys with the access key and in IE just the alt key. In Fire fox, by default in Window EYES, you'll hear the shortcut as you tab across the links that use them and will sound something like Shift-C Continue and so on. If you want to hear this in I.E you'll need to turn on Access Keys. Do this by pressing Insert-V to bring up the Verbosity Settings window. You'll already be in Elements, so press the home key, or arrow up to the top of the list, you'll hear Access Keys. Press tab once and you'll hear Indicate Shortcuts. This is unchecked by default in the Window EYES IE set file. Press the space bar to check the item and them tab to OK. If you want this to remain on, you'll need to save your set file. JAWS users can read more on the Keyboard Shortcuts page in OCPortal on how to activate this feature.

Chris and the gang have used headers to their full potential in OCPortal, so be sure and use your header hotkey to shift between headers on the page. If you're like me, you'll want to learn everything that is in each section first, but after that the use of the header hot key will make for a smoother and faster work flow. It will keep you from having to arrow down through all the options to find what you are looking for. This is especially true in the Admin Zone and other important sections of your web site.

Updating Your OCPortal Site:
This is one I just found out the hard way after doing an update and trashing my install. I had to trash the site and start over. I've since learned that I probably over reacted, but that was after the fact. . When updating your OCPortal site, be sure that META Refresh is enabled. I'm a Window EYES user, but I've had JAWS users tell me the same thing. When you install Window EYES or JAWS on to your machine, several things happen to the core features of Windows. One of those is turning off META Refreshing in Internet Explorer. If you use Fire fox this doesn't apply. But if you insist on using IE, be sure and turn META Refreshing on. If you don't you will never see the update finish to completion, and like me end up with a site that was only partly updated and give you all kinds of errors. To do this in I.E go to ToolsInternet /Options/Security and select Internet in the Zone list, tab over to Custom level and press the space bar. Using the down arrow key, arrow down to the Miscellaneous section and find Allow META Refresh, arrow down twice more and you'll hear, Enabled OFF. Press the space bar to toggle the setting and then tab three times to OK and press the space bar. You'll hear - Warning. Are you sure you want to change the setting for this zone? Press the space bar again and then tab to OK and press enter. If you want to change it permanently that's doable as well, but out of the scope of this article. now you're ready to update your site with confidence.

Editing pages in OCPortal:
One of the coolest things about OCPortal is its Comcode language. Trust me on this one too. This is well worth learning and is a breeze to do, so save your self a headache and learn it from the beginning. You'll be glad you did. With that said, when you first visit your OCPortal site, and any time your cookies are deleted or reset, the default editor is the built in WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. TURN THIS OFF if you are using a screen reader. Your screen reader is not going to work well in the rich text editor and you'll end up pulling your hair out or worse.

One more thing and I'll conclude this winded post. In the Admin Zone, and again this is for Window EYES users using IE. When you tab across the Admin Menu Items you are going to hear the path to the module and not the item. For example you are going to hear


and not Start,


and not Usage and so on. So be prepared for that. This is not a problem in Fire fox as it correctly identifies the menu items. Not sure of the difference and why Fire fox does and IE does not, but it is another good argument for using Fire fox with your OCPortal powered web site. I'm not even sure if Chris and the gang is aware of this, but I want you to know.

In conclusion, whether you use JAWS or Window EYES, if you're going to build a web site, and executing a command and having it do what you expect it to do, then you need to do it with OCPortal.
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Thanks for the feedback!

I'm always interested in hearing about users like you. Any CMS is a complex entity, and knowing that a blind user is able to so effectively utilise ocPortal is a very refreshing thought.

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Community saint

I was going to respond on similar lines to Robbie, but I got sidetracked.

The reason for being sidetracked was that I started looking through some of the reports I submitted on accessibility, whilst I was participating in the sterling work done by 'Independent Testers'.

Sadly, 'IT' are no longer with us as there appears to be little or no interest in the subject. All that the submitters of sites seemed to want to know was 'how pretty' their site was. Period.

I was quietly proud re-reading my old reports, and although at the time I thought my criticisms were slightly on the severe side, your post chipster has confirmed for me that perhaps I wasn't severe enough!

Yes, ocPortal doesn't just pay lip-service to 'useability' and 'standards', but actively leads the way. For that alone (oh OK, and the security!) I will continue to be an ocPortal acolyte …


Take my advice. I'm not using it!

View my working ocPortal site (version 9.x.x) at Anglo-Indian Portal
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I've tried out Window-Eyes today, and also JAWS. Actually ocPortal wasn't written to either specifically, but we try hard to make sure we meet the W3C accessibility guidelines and mostly good things follow from it. Obviously our competitors don't bother to do things right ;).

The meta refresh issue will be fixed (although as it's an issue inside the upgrader, it will be two upgrades until you see it).

I couldn't reproduce the menu tabbing issue, they might have fixed that or possibly it's some specific settings or way of doing it. It seemed normal enough when I tried.

One interesting thing is I could not find a setting to make Window-Eyes treat the <a> 'title' attribute with precedence over link text. We recommend this on JAWS as we need to put additional information on there sometimes. It's a juggling act for us, we're not just an accessible CMS, we're also a pretty CMS – so:
  • sometimes we want things to align with consistent link titles and no redundant information for a seeing user (e.g. all rows in a table of entries having a 'delete' link – so we need to make the link title [the tooltip] say something like 'delete example' to get the specificity out-of-context requirement sorted out).
  • sometimes we have to fit a minor link into a small space, so have to make it really short, then be more specific in the link title
I'd be interested if you know where the setting is chipster or if there isn't one.

Anyway, after reviewing again I've found a number of issues which I've spent the day fixing:
  • Some cases where links or buttons weren't specific out-of-context, with no 'title' attribute used
    • Some cases of things in tables, so each table row repeated the same link text
    • Contract/expand links
    • The day cells on the calendar
    • Pagination and sorting links, if multiple things on the screen could be paginated/sorted
    • Some other specific cases
    • The clear buttons on form upload fields
  • The help panel expand/contract link not being clear
  • The tree-list interface still not being accessible, as JAWS seemed to skip the radio button inputs we added to it due to 'visibility: hidden'
  • The tree-list interface not being keyboard navigable
  • I have put 'title' attributes on all forms, as I found that this is very helpful for navigating around
  • The trackback links, which Javascript warns not to click, being a bit too tempting for braille users (reported by another screen-reader user, Dominique, who I think is going to post in this topic soon also)
  • The required field marker requiring some mental gymnastics to remember (easy to scan for a seeing user, hard to remember what "*" means when a big stream of text is read by a crazy computer voice)
  • Auto-submitting forms that disruptively change the context (e.g. navigating to a different area of the site, or opening a popup window) now have a warning of their auto-submission in the form title
  • Truncated text that has a tooltip is now properly marked up as using an abbreviation tag (hehe, I don't think I've seen anyone do this before but finally I see a strong reason for there being separate acronym and abbreviation tags)

Become a fan of ocPortal on Facebook or add me as a friend. Add me on on Twitter.
Was I helpful?
  • If not, please let us know how we can do better (please try and propose any bigger ideas in such a way that they are fundable and scalable).
  • If so, please let others know about ocPortal whenever you see the opportunity.
  • If my reply is too Vulcan or expressed too much in business-strategy terms, and not particularly personal, I apologise. As a company & project maintainer, time is very limited to me, so usually when I write a reply I try and make it generic advice to all readers. I'm also naturally a joined-up thinker, so I always express my thoughts in combined business and technical terms. I recognise not everyone likes that, don't let my Vulcan-thinking stop you enjoying ocPortal on fun personal projects.
  • If my response can inspire a community tutorial, that's a great way of giving back to the project as a user.
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