Well, as we promised before, we are continuing to work on Accessibility fixes for the Homepage.  Version 1.1.1 and version 1.1.2 were rolled out today, containing a number of fixes that we weren’t able to get done in time for version 1.1.0.  For those who find these numbers strange, I say to you, don’t worry, this is standard software lingo.  If software waited for everything to be perfect, then nothing would be released, as evidenced by numerous fixes that are applied to your desktops, laptops, or newer versions of applications you may use.

How did we get to the versions, you ask?  A while ago, we asked ourselves the question, why isn’t the Homepage done in the same manner other software development is done?  After all, it is ultimately software.  There really wasn’t a good answer to not do it, and by doing this we ensure continued focus, not just on how pages look, but also on how pages sound, how pages flow, and how pages are read.

So back to 1.1.1 and 1.1.2.  In examining the home page, in partnership with the good people in Disability Access Services, we found that when putting the home page through a screen reader like JAWS and a Mac’s own VoiceOver software (Apple’s screen access technology), not all of it made sense.  We needed better announcements for sections, more descriptions around what something was or in some cases wasn’t.  As an example of the latter, we had the little dots for the feature stories with an alt tag (which is a descriptive tag of the item) of a space, which literally read “space” in going through VoiceOver.

Does this mean we are done?  By no means.  We will be looking at Accessibility on a continued basis, and welcome feedback.  While our group handles the programmatic side, there are some decisions that have to be weighted on the messaging side, and all of this has to happen in a method that we are able to meet the needs for those with accessibility needs, and not least of all, to ensure a better browsing experience for all.

What’s next for the Homepage?   Well, now we are getting into the details of planning 1.2.0, and examining possibilities, options, and those things that just must be done.  When?  1.2.0 is slated for a December release.

Stay connected.  I am.

– Jos Accapadi

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