Sunday, 29 September 2013

User Accessible Error Messages.

Accessibility - The attribute of being easy to meet or deal with.

This article focuses on: Access to information versus access to right information.

While accessibility guidelines are followed and accessibility is being built into web pages, the guidelines themselves are brief and requires detail.

Excerpts from

Video or Multimedia Products (1194.24)
Multimedia products involve more than one media and include, but are not limited to, video programs, narrated slide production, and computer generated presentations.
Provisions address caption decoder circuitry (for any system with a screen larger than 13 inches) and secondary audio channels for television tuners, including tuner cards for use in computers. The standards also require captioning and audio description for certain training and informational multimedia productions developed or procured by Federal agencies. The standards also provide that viewers be able to turn captioning or video description features on or off.
Information, Documentation, and Support (Subpart D) 
The standards also address access to all information, documentation, and support provided to end users (e.g., Federal employees) of covered technologies. This includes user guides, installation guides for end-user install-able devices, and customer support and technical support communications. Such information must be available in alternate formats upon request at no additional charge. Alternate formats or methods of communication, can include Braille, cassette recordings, large print, electronic text, Internet postings, TTY access, and captioning and audio description for video materials.
Image Courtesy:

Why is the above guideline not yet detailed?

1. Example:

An image on a web page, requires to have alternate text.

Is the alternate text:

  • Relevant
  • Right and
  • Contains sufficient information that explains the image.

If an image whose alternate text does not convey relevant, right and sufficient information but satisfies the guideline that an image - needs to be provided with Alt+Text all good?

2. Explanation:

The alternate text being read using a screen reader for any user may prove to be misleading if the text is present but is of not relevance.

Having an appropriate alternate text is an essential part of the design.

3. Exercise:
  • Use a screen reader to access a web page.
  • Close your eyes for a few minutes or simply turn off the audio of any video(with audio) and read the transcript provided. Is it informational and all rendering?
  • Try to navigate and perform the actions intended to reach all your users. 

Build and test for user accessibility for error messages while assuring that the error messages in itself are not a give away. 


Further Reading:

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