Category Archives: Accessibility

Advanced blogging – The Usual Rushed Texts

The first time I noticed the speed of the screen reader of a blind person I was overwhelmed. I barely could catch each word. The speed was at least twice the speaking speed of a person.

Imagine a friend who excitedly talks about a great job offer.
It sounds like a rushed text.

“Are you a member of the Guild?”
“Last time I checked.”

Show me the code

The default editor in WordPress is the visual editor. For beginners this is a great way to begin. The text is shown in the same way the visitors will read it. There is a catch. Sometimes the editor will change the look and feel.

For me the visual editor in WordPress hided too much information, so I used the code editor. I was editing HTML files and checked the changes in the visual editor.

For fast writing, HTML provides a nice structure: headings. I just put some keywords or short sentences in the file. Jerry Weinberg called them fieldstones. I kept the rest of the words in my mind and added them later on.

Let me show and tell

I always thought that it was a good idea to show what I did. Pictures can clarify a lot. A lot of pictures can clarify a lot more.

in the visual editor the picture had a bad contrast. I thought that I shrunk the picture too much. The picture looked good in the preview mode.

No alternative text

If I did not use an alternative text, then the screen reader would read the following aloud:
“Just to be sure I turned off the highlighting.
https://mindfultester.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/mindful-tester-p3-1.20-no-highlightingboxes.jpg”

In this case NVDA, a screen reader, used the path and file name instead of the empty alternative text.

“This is not according to the code of the Guild.”

Non descriptive alternative text

If I did use a short alternative text, then the screen reader would read the following aloud:
“Just to be sure I turned off the highlighting.
Dialog without highlighting”

This sounds like a rushed text. In the picture there are more details worth mentioning.

“This is not part of the deal.”

A complete alternative text

In my blog post I used a descriptive alternative text, then the screen reader would read the following aloud:
“Just to be sure I turned off the highlighting.
In the left image or baseline “Cap” in the username is shown, in the right image or checkpoint the username is empty. In the right upper corner, there is a thumb down button.”

“This is the way.”

Summary

Let me break down the structure. First, I wrote a text with a short introduction to the picture. Then the alternative text was a detailed description of the picture. A screen reader user would hear a normal story. This way I told a story with normal texts and alternative texts in a natural flow.

For the third blog post about Visual TDD in Test Automation I had a separate file for alternative texts. This was handy for the consistency of the text. But I disliked the continuously switching of files: open WordPress, go to the location of the picture, open the editor with the alternative texts, copy the desired text, and paste the text at the right spot in WordPress.

So I put all my alternative texts into the HTML file. This saved me some application switching. It might have some impact on the consistency of the alternative texts.

Even worse, I needed to do some spell checking.

I have a spell on you

The problem with blogging is that the mind is faster than the hands. This often leads to spelling and punctuation errors.

For the creative mind, speed is essential. I could lose my train of thoughts. This is why I gladly accept any typos.
It sounds like a rushed text.

WordPress uses the browser spell check. This is focused on the right spelling of the words. The syntax of the sentences is ignored.

If I spell check my blog post, then I go to the visual editor. I copy the text into my favourite word processor and start the spell checking. Because I was worried about the layout, I change the text in both WordPress and the text editor.

Fine, but what about the alternative text?
A simple solution is:

  • go to the picture
  • copy the alternative text
  • paste in your favourite word pressor
  • do a spell check

There is one place where all the alternative texts are shown and that is the HTML file. The code editor shows all the lines including the alternative texts, which are not shown in the visual editor.

Simple solution

My advice would be: search for alt in the html file and copy the stuff.

Difficult solution

For the selection of my alternative texts, I chose a complicated solution.
This paragraph is meant for people with an IT background. You are free to skip this.

If you are using a screen reader, please set the interpunction level to all.

I opened baregrep, a shareware tool which can filter lines of codes with the text “alt”. This basically means: give me all the lines with alternative texts. I was lucky that I did not use words like alternative or salt.

Baregrep shows all the lines of the files with the file name ending with "v1t.txt" in the subdirectory D:\Users\Han Toan\Mijn documenten\Blog\2020 Blog containing the text alt!

I copied the output.

The Export Test Results Dialog has a To Clipboard button!

The next step is to use VIM, a free software program with a typical interface. I pasted the text in my word processor.

VIM shows the pasted lines of the test results!

The file contained one picture with an alternative text on a different line.

:%s/^.*alt="//
  • : means, that I wanted to execute an ed command. ed is an editor command.
  • % is for all lines in the file
  • s is short for substitute.
  • /^.*alt="/ is the pattern, which I looked for between / and /.
    • ^ is from the beginning of the line.
    • .* is zero or more arbitrary characters.
    • alt=" is the literal text “alt=””
  • // is the text between / and /, which must be used for the replacement. In this case this is an empty string.

The whole command removed all the text from the beginning of the line until and including “alt=”in every line.


:%s/".*//

  • : means, that I wanted to execute an ed command. ed is an editor command. What I basically write, is “ed, I am talking to you. The following command is for you.”
    It is like a home assistant: “VIP Home app, I am talking to you. The following command is for you.”
  • % is for all lines in the file
  • s is short for substitute.
  • /".*/ is the pattern, which I looked for between / and /.
    • " is the literal text “.
    • .* is zero or more arbitrary characters.
  • // is the text between / and /, which must be used for the replacement. In this case this is an empty string.

The whole command removed all the text from ” until the end of the line in every line.

The last step is to copy the lines into the word processor for the final spell checking.

For the people who like to quit VIM without saving:
:q!

  • : means, that I wanted to execute an ed command. ed is an editor command. What I basically write, is “ed, I am talking to you. The following command is for you.”
    It is like a home assistant: “VIP Home app, I am talking to you. The following command is for you.”
  • q is quit.
  • ! means without saving, because I am sure.

Back to Media for the change

Then I updated the alternative texts in Media, where all my pictures are stored.
If you are using a screen reader, you can set the interpunction level to your favourite setting.

Here is the change

A few days later I noticed that the wrong alternative texts were included in the blog post. I tried to figure out what happened.
Who was the usual suspect?

The moment I inserted a picture from the Media in my blog post, a copy of the HTML code was used. Any later changes in Media remained there. So I had to change the text again in the code editor.

One of my kids summarised my story as follows:
if you send your homework to school, then you send a copy of the file.

I could have chosen to replace the old pictures in the blog post with the latest pictures in Media. I was afraid to add the wrong picture. Then I should not forget the resizing.

So I edited the alternative texts in the visual editor.

Listen carefully. I only tell this once.

Pro tip: use the screenreader to read your text aloud. Some typos are difficult to see, but are easy to hear.
Just hover with your mouse over the text and hear it.

“I have spoken.”

Advanced blogging – Unfamiliar Quality Attributes

What would be a good opening for this blog post?

  1. Content is king!
    Narrator: “It is used so much, that it is boring.” [Sigh]
  2. Meta blogging is blogging about blogging.
    Narrator: “Now you lost me.”
  3. It took Thrisha Gee months to make a good video of 20 minutes. I had screenshots of 20 minutes of testing. Now I fully understood her.
    Narrator: “Tell me more.”

My favourite opening for this post is the last one.
But I am too late. I already started with a rethorical multiple choice question.

Some stats

In the past months I made 2 blog posts with lots of pictures, so I had some experiences how to deal with this case.
This time it was 3 days, 3 takes, and 26 pictures.

Performance

Let me do some calculations. 26 pictures of the screen with a size of 288 kb would make an 8 Mb post. This is not what my readers are waiting for. Downloading!

I was experiementing with the number of posts on my home page and following pages. This would reduce the number of pictures on 1 page significantly. In WordPress it looks like this:
After selecting Settings and Reading there is an option to set blog pages show at most to 3 posts!

The story is, that mobile friendly web sites had a major impact on SEO or Search Engine Optimalisation. If a user can view the website fast enough on his or her mobile, then the search engine will place it high in the list of search results.

Accessibility

For deaf people and people with bad hearing there were no obstacles on my blog. I did not use any movies. Let me describe a scene of a closeup of a face in 3 ways:

  1. No options used.
  2. Undertitles
    [Typing sounds]
    [“What are you typing?”]
    [“I saw something strange.”]
  3. Closed captions
    [Face of a programmer is shown.]
    [Tester is typing on the keyboard]
    [Programmer: What are you typing?”]
    [Tester: “I saw something strange.”]

If I will add a movie, then I really like to use the closed captions.

In the past I used cursive font, but this is bad for people who are visually impaired or have a bad view. So I stopped using it.

I even increased the contrast of my quotes.

This is a quote with a good contrast.

For programming dark mode is quite convenient for visually impaired people. White characters on a black background are more readable than black characters on a white background.

Blind and visually impaired peoplemight  have or might have problems with text in a picture. An image cannot be read aloud by a screen reader. I could add an alternative text to the image.
The visible part of the alternative text of a picture of 3 lines of codes with 2 comments is: "eyes.checkWindow("1");// eyes.check"!

The screen reader could read it aloud, but the whole structure of the code would be gone. Several lines of code are spoken as a single line of code. This is confusing.

eyes.checkWindow("1");// eyes.checkWindow("2");// eyes.checkWindow("3");

could be interpreted as:

eyes.checkWindow("1");
// 
eyes.checkWindow("2");
// 
eyes.checkWindow("3");

So I used the pre tag of HTML to display the code in a proper way using the code editor:

<pre>eyes.checkWindow("1");
// eyes.checkWindow("2");
// eyes.checkWindow("3");
</pre>

Now I had to find an efficient way to include 26 pictures  with alternative texts for a single blog post.

Enjoyability

My target audience was programmers who know the basics of Java and an IDE or Integrated Development Environment.
I also counted on the fact that they had the tools properly installed. This is described in other places.

For me a story is more enjoyable to review than a set of instructions. This spreadsheet blog post contains a set of boring instructions.

It was a challenge to stop myself to turn the new blog post into a set of pictures. Another way of boring.

Was there a way to add some humour to it?

Coming up

In the next blog post I will focus on reducing the size of the blog post.

Tweaking My Workshop Accessibility

During the Speakers Dinner of Agile Testing Days 2019 I told Abby Bangser about my attempts to make my workshop accessible.
“It is even possible to add alternative text to images in PowerPoint. If you click on the image, there are several tabs. One tab contains Alternative text. [ … ]

Don’t forget the exclamation mark (!). The screen reader will read it differently.”

Tobias Geyer, another speaker, was confused. I saw him thinking: “Alternative to what?”
I told him about a screen reader which could read information aloud to people. This is handy for people with a visual impairment. Alternative text is used on web sites to add more information to pictures.

If the presentation would be downloadable at the beginning of the presentation, then attendees would be able to hear the information on the slides.

Blind review

Some people state that a blind review is the best one. The reviewer is not distracted by the looks of the speaker or the beauty of the pictures.

One of my reviewers was blind, so I really needed to speak well. Without the use of my slides it was difficult to tell a story. The main feedback was no clear structure.

So I added a mind map which gave a proper view of the workshop. This was really appreciated by the next reviewer.

For the exercises I had already tested the website with a screen reader. Once again it was time for the real thing.

My blind reviewer went through the website without any delay. The reading speed was so high, that it looked like a normal person was skimming the webpages. The feedback was almost instantaneous.

It was strange for me to hear, that bugs were found by clicking around. Navigation was on hearing. My test website passed the accessibility test.

Sound advice

The Friday before Agile Testing Days I had a talk with someone with a bad hearing. I told about my workshop. How should I speak to people who cannot hear well?

“What would be your best advice?”
“Ask whether people can hear you.
It is a professional thing you can do:
“Can you hear me?”

What also helpful is, are pictures. Next to key words on the slides.” This way a talk could be reconstructed, if words would be missed.

Somehow I lost sight on my slides.

I told about the handheld microphones seen on one of the pictures. Most of the time I put it in front of my mouth.
“It can be lowered. The quality will not decrease much, but people are able to see your mouth.” Lip reading for the win.

In the days before the workshop I focused on big fonts on my slides and my cards. I increased the contrast between the text and the background.

What could go wrong?

What went wrong?

I completely forgot to ask the audience whether they could hear me. Where was my checklist?
I had none.
Oh.

The most embarrassing part of the downloadable stuff was, that there were no files on the promised location at the start of my workshop.
Big oops from my side.

After this painful discovery I repeated all the steps: I went to my github and uploaded my presentation. This time I scrolled down. A commit button?! I forgot to press it.

Github is git in the cloud. It can be used to store different versions of files. I still wrestle with it. As Janet Gregory stated in her talk it is about deliberate practice. I had only practiced once. In my case I had cut one corner too many.

Days after my workshop I checked the alternative text in the pdf file of my presentation on my laptop. I double clicked the file and the file was opened in my browser.

The text of the slide was told aloud by the screen reader. I hovered above a picture. Not a sound. I was also silent.

Last weekend I did another attempt to get some sound of a picture. I double clicked the file on my PC and Acrobat reader opened the file.

I searched a picture and placed my mouse pointer on it. A hover text was shown and read aloud. That’s what I liked to hear.

So Acrobat reader can handle alternative text of pictures, but my favourite browser not. And I had not made Acrobat reader a requisite for the workshop. A bit late, but alternative text can be used.

What went right?

I maximised pictures. Leaving out irrelevant parts from the slides.

In the right top corner of the slides I used small pictures to show the state of the test session.

During my preparation I looked at the presentation. There were no spots shining on the screen, so the contrast was good.

During the demo part I used a headset microphone. Attendees could hear me and I could talk at a normal volume. Most important is the fact, that the small microphone did not hide my mouth.