Are You Ready To Challenge Your Accessibility Assumptions?

Oct 26, 2021

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By Tamar Savir | Medium, October 25th, 2021

We kicked off the #NoMouseVMware challenge this week, inviting employees to navigate a website or a tool for 30 minutes using only the keyboard.

A woman standing next to a computer. A cat is walking past the computer with a computer mouse in its mouth.

Not everyone relies on a mouse or a trackpad when using their computers. The general “cat” population may be surprised to know there are many keyboard-only users among us. For example, people who are blind or have low vision use assistive technology such as screen readers or braille displays and rely on keyboard functionality to navigate a page or browse content online. Other examples include people with dexterity difficulties. Approximately 7% of working adults have Parkinson’s, arthritis, or carpal tunnel syndrome. They find it easier to use the keyboard. Whatever the reason is — necessity or preference — there are many keyboard-only users navigating a world that was not designed for them.

 

Making the digital world more inclusive is something we can all contribute to.

 

An important first step is to experience the digital world the same way that keyboard-only users’ do. We’ve invited VMware employees to take the #NoMouseVMware challenge. You can join us too! Choose a website, or an app or tool, and navigate it using only a keyboard for 30 minutes. So, without a mouse (or a trackpad!) try to:

  • Navigate a menu bar
  • Write an email
  • Check out a newsfeed
  • Scroll down a timeline
  • Watch a video
  • Read an article
  • Subscribe to, or purchase, an item
  • Download a document
  • Review your PowerPoint slides

 

Navigation 101

A cat sitting next to a computer with a "no mouse" sign on the screen

 

Before you start, here are a few tips on keyboard navigation:

  • Press Tab to move to the next link, form element or button.
  • Press Shift+Tab to move to the previous link, form element, or button.
  • Press Enter or space bar to activate the current link or button.
  • Use arrow keys, Escape, or other keys if it makes sense.

 

How long did it take before you hit a roadblock?

A cat dragging a computer mouse in its mouth

 

Or felt frustrated enough to throw your hands up in the air? Ten minutes? Five? Post a comment if you experienced at least one of the options listed below:

  • You couldn’t locate or lost where you were on the page because there wasn’t any visual indication.
  • You had to tab excessively to get to the main page content because there was no skip link.
  • You opened a modal window and noticed keyboard focus didn’t move to it.
  • You skipped over entire parts of the page that you knew you should be able to interact with.
  • You noticed focus jumped to active elements on the page in a random and illogical order.

Surely you can add a few more bullets to the list!

If a 30-minute challenge felt so painful, annoying and/ or frustrating, imagine how difficult it must be for someone who experiences it every day. We encourage you to think about your customers, potential hires and, of course, employees who are:

  • Using keyboards only to navigate your products and website.
  • Sitting through a training or sales pitch, and using the keyboard to navigate your PowerPoint presentations, email or other content.

Making the digital space accessible is everyone’s responsibility. Whether you are part of Marketing, Products, Sales, HR or any other function — we all have a role to play. Let’s become better accessibility advocates. Commit to use the keyboard more often, and if something isn’t working, raise a ticket or get it fixed.

With your help, we can build a future that is accessible for all.

 

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