Tuesday, December 13, 2005

AJAX and Accessibility - Standards-schmandards

I read an article from March the 1st of this year, on AJAX and usability. It's a nice, simple, straight article, easy readable.It also has a few references to other articles explaining blogs (as well as a long comment list!). Here's the main points of the author on usability: "Improving accessibility of AJAX forms Fortunately there are some things we can do to increase accessbility of AJAX forms. Here are my recommendations: 1. Inform the user at the top of the form that it requires javascript or detect javascript automatically and warn the user when it isn't available. If the form has many fields you will spare your users a lot of frustration. Everyone hates filling out a form just to find out that they can't submit it. 2. Inform the user that the page is updated dynamically. This is especially important for screen reader users and will help them decide when to trigger a re-read of the page. 3. Make it possible to recieve an alert when information was updated. This may not be practically possible depending on the complexity of your form but will help a screen reader user a lot. Alert boxes are read by the screen reader and are usually displayed together with a sound. The checkbox should be displayed so it is clear that it is not part of the original form. 4. Highlight recently updated areas for a short period of time. This will help sighted users understand what just happened. The nice folks over at 37signals have dubbed this 'The Yellow Fade Technique' but you can use any colour you like. Check out Adam Michela's code for another way of providing the fade."