11 April 2020

We put the focus on parkinson’s and keyboard navigation

We usually find that there is a false belief. Many people believe that web accessibility is only beneficial for blind people who use screen readers but this is not true.

Last week we posted a post about autism and how we can make web access more accessible to people with it.

This week marks Parkinson’s Day, so we want to spread the word about the disease and get closer to the way these people surf the net.

What is Parkinson's? How do people who suffer from it navigate?

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system whose main symptoms are tremor of rest (in the hands, arms, legs and jaw or head), stiffness (stiffness of the limbs and trunk), slowness in movements and postural instability (deterioration of balance).

It is at once chronic, progressive, and multisystemic: symptoms worsen over time. As they become more pronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or doing simple tasks.

These tasks can be, perfectly, the use of a computer. Using a mouse means making very small movements, with precision and with a psychomotor skills that allow you to click quickly and quickly.

That’s why people with Parkinson’s or other illnesses that can affect coordination and voluntary and involuntary hand movement often have to look for a different way of navigating that doesn’t go through the mouse.

They may be able to use some of the so-called ball (they allow you to move them without having to click and from a ball under the palm of your hand) but many times they go directly to the keyboard or larger keyboards and adapted to your needs. .

This means that people with motor problems in their hands can be regular users of the keyboard, as are blind people, but they can see the web and therefore need the keyboard focus to be visible at all times.

How can we make websites accessible to visual keyboard users?

Criterion 2.4.7 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 includes the need for the keyboard focus to always be visible, that is, for the user to have a visual indication of where they are.
Browsers display a visual focus tracking indicator by default, usually in the form of a dotted line around the active element, but using the CSS outline property can change its appearance, or even remove it. completely, which can be very problematic if not replaced by some other visual indicator.

In this regard, it should be noted that by itself, changing the background color may not be enough, as not all users have the same color perception, or they may be using high contrast modes or custom styles.

Some techniques to make sure the focus is always seen in these modes include using the outline property with non-zero values, using non-color-dependent features, such as underlining, or adding icons that indicate which is the active element.

One way to make sure that the focus is visible everywhere and that the user will not get lost is to tab the whole page and always try to know where it is.
With this test we will also detect if there is any obstacle for the keyboard (criterion 2.1.2 of the accessibility guidelines) that catches the focus and does not allow to continue tabulating.

Needless to say, for proper interaction, all elements of the page (menus, buttons, carousels, drop-downs, etc.) must be usable without the need for a mouse. This is what criterion 2.1.1 indicates:

“2.1.1 Keyboard: All content functionality must be able to be executed via a keyboard interface without requiring certain times to press a particular key, except when the underlying function requires an input that depends on the path of the movement. the user and not just the endpoints. (Level A) ”.

Not requiring short periods of time or waiting for fast movements by the user is crucial. There are people, and those who suffer from Parkinson's can be some examples, who need to interact more slowly and therefore include mechanisms to stop certain moving elements or offer the extension of time to fill out a form are measures necessary.

In conclusion, you should always keep in mind the keyboard user who can be very varied, from a person who prefers to use this navigation instead of the mouse to another who has Parkinson's or any disease or situation that does not allow him to use -lo.

Many people with different abilities can browse our website and we must take them into account. This is the function of the Accessibility Guidelines: to have a reference that allows us to provide guidelines to ensure access to websites for everyone, and at Tothomweb we work every day to achieve this. Hence our name and our vocation.


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