[Vit-discuss] Accessibility aspects of design.

Hugh Sasse Staff Elec Eng hgs at dmu.ac.uk
Mon Feb 21 08:34:41 EST 2005

I know that the committees are not fully formed yet, but
can I put in a plea for accessibility to be considered as
a high priority?

I've had a few cases on the present Rubylang.org site of columns
flowing into each other, because I use large print.  Some would say
huge print :-) at 25 points, but I knew someone who could only
really access 60 point print comfortably.  [Remember, not all
visually impaired people know braille, and for some it is
inaccessible anyway due to a poor sense of touch, e.g. due to
diabetic neuropathy.  In the UK alone there are an estimated 24,000
deafblind people[1] who would find using synthetic speech difficult,
or impossible, and some of whom would manage by means of large

I have had problems on the redhanded site, which I tried to raise
with _why, but I think the reason I got no response may well be due
to his looking after Hobix, Syck, redcloth, and his own site, and
that's just the stuff he does that I know about.  Basically, code in
the left column ends up as being too wide, and the column is not in
a scrollable <div>, so the text disappears under the right hand
column, so bits are missing from it.  I suggested adding 'margins:
auto;" to the stylesheet.

Another thing: Could there be alternative stylesheets?  I've had
people with dyslexia tell me that serif fonts (like Times) are
difficult to read, whereas fonts like Helvetica or Ariel are easy,
and colours can be an issue for dyslexics too.  Some of these things
can be overridden by the browser, following the user's preferences,
but if the site enforces its own standards that doesn't happen.

I might appear to be on a disability rights soapbox here, but my
point is that the aim of this exercise is to bring more people in to
the Ruby community, so it would be best to avaid barriers which may
keep people out.  Making the site accessible improves it for people
browsing with (mobile|cell) phones -- if you can tell what images
are without having to see (download) them for example.  There are
projects to browse the web by telephone -- i.e. verbally. Some
people access the web by e-mail[2].  So we need to remove as many
assumptions as possible.

         Thank you,

[1] http://www.deafblind.org.uk/
[2] http://www.mail-archive.com/accmail@listserv.aol.com/msg01870.html

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