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Accessibility concerns re email, Lynx, JAWS

I'm considering migrating a large forum of around 2000 people from Facebook to Vanilla.

Some of my users are visually impaired, and use a variety of different programs to browse the internet. One person uses Lynx, which is a text-only browser that's easier for her to read. Another uses JAWS, which is a popular screen reader for the visually impaired. Both users tend to supplement with email notifications as needed.

I'm curious just how strong Vanilla's accessibility support is. Searching the archives didn't yield much. This was a dealbreaker when I was considering Discourse, so I'm hoping it's better here.



  • hgtonighthgtonight ∞ · New Moderator

    According to the release notes for 2.2, they added more accessibility features. I am not sure what they are, but at least they are supporting some minimum requirements.


    @Linc said:

    • Add Section 508 support (accessibility improvements).

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  • LincLinc Detroit Admin

    @MikeBattaglia We've been vetted by an education service provider as having sufficient accessibility to meet US government rules, and generally this is something we keep an eye on when evaluating our product and new features. If you find additional areas we can make improvements, please file us tickets on GitHub so we can take a look.

  • Accessibility for screen readers is difficult becuase often you need elements with content, which are superficial in terms of text content and are there for cosmetic reasons.

    So to a text browser it can be a bit confusing, although as long as they aren't missing anything you can get passed that.

    grep is your friend.

  • @ytadvisons might be able to provide some insights as well.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • mschultermschulter Sacramento, CA New

    Please let me offer a report to illustrate Mike Battaglia's concerns. Yesterday I attempted to register with the e-links browser, and was unable to do so because of problems after successfully filling out the registration form and solving the recaptcha. I would like to describe my problem while using elinks from a text-based Linux system. I should also explain that I'm here because someone very helpfully assisted me in completing the registration process.

    After I identified the required characters for the recaptcha, typed them, and selected the menu item to submit, "I'm a human," by moving the cursor in elinks to that item and pressing , I got a message that told me access would be impossible.

    What happened is that I saw a screen with a long security code in a box, without anything else on the page. There was, however a direction: "Copy and paste this text" into another box that was supposed to be on the page. On my system with elinks, there is no other box to cut and paste anything into.

    Perhaps more importantly, there are no "cut and paste" tools in elinks. The closest thing to that happens if I'm using a comment form like this one, and use an elinks feature that lets me use an external editor like emacs or jmacs to edit my text entry, as in fact I'm doing now. Evidently "cutting and pasting" on a GUI system would be another approach to what's called killing and yanking in emacs or jmacs.

    But what I'd guess is that the designer of the recaptcha assumed that everyone who ran elinks or the like would be running it in an operating environment with "cut and paste" available at some system level, and also some kind of display (likely GUI) that would show another box on that page into which to paste the security code from the first box. It simply fails in text-based Linux.

    Over the years I've encountered lots of captchas, for example on Google Books, where you simply type and enter the correct text after viewing a graphic file (which elinks does when I select a menu item to see the image by calling zgv, an external program to view the most common bitmapped formats). Those have generally presented no problem for me, which is a privilege of having good enough vision not to need another mode of doing the captcha.

    What I'm assuming may have happened here is that the designer made some assumptions that simply didn't fit my system. An alternative strategy for extra security might be to ask the additional solution of a word or number problem like "4 + 8 = ?" with a form space to type "12" and submit. I've been on sites that use these text-based tests, and maybe passing a graphic captcha plus two or three of these word/number problems would give the extra security the designer may have intended without excluding text-based users.

  • R_JR_J Ex-Fanboy Munich Admin

    I thought the "I'm a human" text only appears with Googles new captcha that is an external plugin from @x00. Did it really appear here at vanillaforums.org?

    The security question you are describing is available as an external plugin already. So I think all that forum owners need is available. It is up to them to decide what they like to use.

    People like you sharing their experiences might help banish captchas more and more since they are a plague: only easy to solve for bots, but painful for humans.

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