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The good, bad and ugly of digital inclusivity (Nicki's story)

To conclude our personal story series, we have Nicki with a blog post about three things you can do to make your website and social media more accessible to people like her…

My name is Nicki and I am a Dragon user. Dragon is a speech-to-text assistive technology, which I use for dictating text and navigating my computer and the Internet. I have essential tremor, which makes typing difficult. I’m also a wheelchair user, following a spinal injury, so sitting hunched over a keyboard causes lower back pain. Dragon helps with both impairments, so it is essential that digital services are accessible.

When looking at the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the Operable section relates most to Dragon users. It is essential to be able to navigate without using a mouse. You can test that by using your keyboard only. Use the tab key to move from item to item and press enter when you want to activate a link. I do this by voice, saying, “Tab, tab, press enter.”

When you do this, you will find:

1. It is time consuming getting past navigation menus. These are often repeated on every page. Good sites have a ‘Skip to main content’ link. It is usually hidden and appears by magic the first time you hit tab. This means I can skip past all the menus. (WCAG 2.4.1)

2. Most websites are designed so that as you tab through, the items are in a logical order, but some sites are disorganised and the tabbing order can be terrible. (WCAG 2.4.3)

3. On good sites, as you tab through, you can see where you are on the page. This is called Focus. A border or shading is used to show which link is active. This is very important! Without it a keyboard user or Dragon user can’t tell what they are clicking on. (WCAG 2.4.7)

There are other ways I can navigate using Dragon, but if these three things are in place, I’ll be a happy customer. If not, I’m happy to help you fix it but if you’re not bothered, I’ll shake the digital dust off my wheels and move on.

For more tips on how to make your digital content more accessible, check out Nicki’s website here:


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