jesse_the_k: Photo of baby wearing huge black glasses  (eyeglasses baby)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
Howdy oh wise ones. There have been some juicy 200-comment threads lately, and I've been running up against a usability issue. I've drafted a post for the Suggestion Generator, and I want to run it by clearer minds than mine first.

So: can you understand what I'm talking about? If you're a large-print, audio, or small-screen user, does this match your experience? Does my proposed solution make things any better? Have at it!

=== begin draft suggestion
Title: Style Comments Page with Outline Indicators in Place of Indents

Summary: Improve UX for reading comments where indention implies structural hierarchy

Full Explanation: The structural hierarchy of comments -- who is replying to whom -- is implicit in the amount of white space between the left screen edge and the start of the comment. (How the comment begins varies, depending on the page's style: could be the words in the comment itself, or the user icon, or the optional subject title.)

For some users, inferring indention is difficult: large print, audio, phones, and other smaller-screen devices.

I'm a large print user, so I'll speak from my experience: It's easy to lose the context of long discussion threads, even with "style=light". (By the way, the help docs mention "format=light" not "style=light": which is preferred?)

The screen grab at this link
http://i277.photobucket.com/albums/kk58/jesse_the_k/SharedPix/LosingCommentContext.png
shows the problem: it's like browsing the web through a soda straw. There are two comments in the middle of a long thread in a Firefox/Mac window with fonts at 20 pt. The earlier comment uses 2/3rd screen width; its reply is indented 1/4 in further. Vertically there's 14 lines of text plus two "header" lines containing user icons, subjects, usernames & dates.

My proposal is to provide a style that makes the outline of comments explicit with printing characters instead of implicit with indents.

I think alternating digits and alpha would suffice; the result would be prepended to the "subject" string, or *be* the subject string if none is present (which would also provide a handy way to reference comments...) An example follows

0. Original Post Subject Line
1. Base-level comment
1a. alpha's response
1a1. beta responds to alpha
1a1a. gamma responds to beta
1a2. epsilon responds to alpha
1b. gamma responds to alpha
2. epsilon responds to OP

Choosing to use it:
http://www.dreamwidth.org/manage/settings/?cat=display

I suggest three tick box options where the current choice is "View comment pages from your Reading Page in your own style":
View comments pages from your Reading Page
1. in your own style
2. in lynx/mobile style
3. in lynx/mobile style with comment outline format
(and it would be wonderful to have a hyperlink from "comment outline format" to a sample of it applied.)
=== draft ends
jadelennox: Oracle with a headset: Heroes Use Headsets (gimp: heroes use headsets)
[personal profile] jadelennox
  1. I'm going to add this to the "to document" wiki, but people should understand that the "title" attribute is not a tool to convey accessibility. Most users, screenreader or not, never see title attributes.

    Except in form controls, title attributes are useless to 99% of users -- including sighted users, since most people don't hover long enough to see the tooltip.
  2. WebAIM has published the results of their second screenreader survey. Summary of things that interested me:
    • JAWS is still in the lead, but NVDA and VoiceOver are gaining.
    • IE7 and IE8 are most common browsers, alas.
    • most people have JavaScript on
    • The answers about alt text are complex.
    • The most annoying accessibility problems that would be a problem on dreamwidth are poorly named link text, keyboard access, and bad forms.
    • On a lengthy page, many users navigate via the headings on the page.
    • There is no typical screen reader user.
jeshyr: Standrd glyphs representing disability, blindness, interpreters and information. (Disability)
[personal profile] jeshyr
I'd like to put together a list of all the stuff in Dreamwidth that's aimed at making us more accessible - so everything from "We have a diversity statement" to "Alt text for user icons" to "comment threads easier to navigate because of semantic HTML" to (eventually) "guides available to teach users to use browser accessibility functions themselves".

I don't think there's a list in one place of all the improvements that have been made which relate in some way to accessibility for any group.

Ones I can think of:

- Alt text for user icons
- Diversity Statement (which goes with "our volunteers care about accessibility")
- "Other" option in gender field
- Layout of HTML in comment threads is semantic now, which makes them easier to navigate with a screen reader and some other accessibility software..
- We've made the format=light and style=mine options more widely known and easier to use by putting them on the navbar.
- Readers have more control over their viewing experience - eg if they don't want the navbar then they can turn it off globally.

What other improvements have people noticed in accessibility while reading and using Dreamwidth?

Ricky
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