Alt Text Remains Elusive, The Morningstar Example

Web accessibility issues are certainly easy to find. Calling attention to each one any user encounters would quickly be overwhelming. But every once in a while you come across examples that are just so basic they need to be mentioned.

 

I’m sure just about everyone has heard of Morningstar, the financial research giant. The company’s star ratings pepper the financial world, with Morningstar ratings being used in any credible financial research source.

 

In addition to providing data to the financial industry, Morningstar offers research tools directly such as their mutual fund screener.

 

This screener is filled with examples of missing alt text. The one that caught my attention in particular is the missing alt text on a series of checkboxes for selecting the Morningstar ratings you want to include in your search. Graphics are used along with checkboxes to choose star ratings from 1 to 5. But without any alt text, anyone who is not able to use images, such as screen reading users, only gets to know that there are a series of checkboxes.

 

One would hope that the bread and butter for which a company is known would get a bit more accessibility attention at some point. Then again as I said web accessibility issues are widespread. No secret I know but this Morningstar example is yet another to add to the collection when trying to illustrate why accessibility, alt text in particular, matters.

Accessibility Fixes From CBS College Sports All Access Delayed to the end of November

Earlier I wrote about my hope to see improved accessibility from CBS College Sports All Access. As of that writing I was told the accessibility fixes were expected on November 10. That day came and went with no update.

 

I received a brief update today from the people I’ve been exchanging e-mail with at the University of Wisconsin about the accessibility issues.

 

we received this info from cbs last Thursday. There was a setback in producing the ADA accessibility components for the Silverlight media player. CBS is saying end of November now.

 

I’m communicating with the University of Wisconsin folks because it is my belief that they are ultimately responsible for ensuring the accessibility of their online offerings. Obviously they’d be better off if they’d chosen a mechanism that was directly accessible and I’m disappointed they didn’t do a better job when choosing the CBS product at the outset.

 

The lack of accessibility in the online sports broadcasts is a bit ironic, given the same university of Wisconsin is referenced in an article talking about universities that have said no to Amazon’s Kindle over a lack of accessibility.

 

As I mentioned earlier, folks from the UW and CBS have been both polite and good about finding alternatives that allow for access to the online broadcasts while the accessibility issues are resolved. This by no means excuses the lack of direct accessibility but is a far cry better than frequently happens during these sorts of issues. As I’m sure anyone in the accessibility arena knows, it is just as likely that I could have been left out in the cold here.

 

Still, we are now two months beyond the initial promised accessibility resolution so the old “just a bit longer” is starting to wear a bit thin.

Disappointed in Apparent Lack of Accessibility in Kindle for PC

Kindle for PC, software that’s supposed to allow you to read the more than 360,000 books Amazon touts as being available for the Kindle is now available from the online retail giant. Disappointing, albeit not surprising, accessibility seems to be lacking.

 

Trying the application with JAWS,
Window-Eyes, NVDA and even Narrator produced nothing meaningful. JAWS was silent as I tabbed around beyond announcing a title of the opening screen telling me to register the software. Using any method of access there was nothing else perceivable to me from the application. Window-Eyes only announced “custom control” as I tabbed around. NVDA simply said “pane”. Narrator announced a few more window names when I did a full screen read with crl+shift+space but this was still of no meaningful value as tabbing or trying any other interaction still produced silence.

 

Hunting around on Amazon’s web site I found no mention of accessibility for the software. Again disappointing but not surprising I suppose.

Walk Score Adds Public Transit Info

If you’ve not yet tried Walk Score, it is to me a web site worth having in your favorites list.  You enter an address and the site gives you what is termed a walkability score for the address.  This score is based on proximity of things like shops, restaurants and such.  You get not only the score, but the list of businesses.  Site accessibility needs some improvement but you can generally make it work.

 

Of note is that a couple days ago public transit info has been added to the info about an address.  In 40 markets you now get a list of the nearest public transit routes as well as other info that was previously provided.

 

Walk score can be found at http://www.walkscore.com.

 

An example address from an apartment I used to live in back when I lived in San Francisco can be found at http://www.walkscore.com/get-score.php?street=75+capra+way%2C+san+francisco%2C+ca&go=Go.

 

You can read a blog posting talking about the public transit info on Walk Score at http://blog.walkscore.com/?p=344.

Hoping for Improved Accessibility on CBS College Sports All Access

For the past several years, September has been the time for me to renew my subscription to the University of Wisconsin athletic broadcasts offered on Yahoo’s college sports broadcast services. This year I hunted and hunted but Badger broadcasts were not to be found. As it turned out, Bucky Badger decided to go with a different online partner for streaming media, namely CBS sports.

 

Well, the first football game day rolled around so I tried to sign up for the new offering only to find about zero accessibility of the site. A Silverlight player is the heart of the site and much like Flash there’s potential for accessibility or not, depending on what’s done.

 

I was disappointed to say the least. As a Wisconsin alum, I expected better from the UW. I recognize Wisconsin didn’t build the service but before making the switch I would have hoped to see more investigation of accessibility. To Wisconsin’s credit, once they were made aware of the accessibility challenges, they’ve been great about finding ways to allow me to listen to Badger broadcasts while the issues are resolved. I can only wonder what other universities who use this same service are doing.

 

The UW now tells me that CBS is supposed to be releasing an update to the site that fixes both keyboard and programmatic accessibility. Recent communication from the UW said in part:

 

Kelly: We truly appreciate your continued patience. CBS informed us last week: “Our release including the ADA fix is targeted for 10-Nov-09. We are exposing both accessibility info as well as making items reachable from the keyboard”, so expect that their site will be fully accessible.

 

I don’t know about “fully accessible” but I’m somewhat hopeful for improvements here. We’ll see next week about this time what I can say.