I got no work done today. I should have sent some files to our new coder so she could get started, but I slacked off and did some volunteer stuff instead.
My friend Maria called me the other day to see if I was interested in helping her with a project she and a few others were working on. She is trying to get back into the work force after being a stay at home mom for 15 or so years. The job she left had something to do with helping folks get back into the workforce after a disabling injury. I think she wants to go into a field similar to that.
In the decade and a half since she left the workforce, times have changed. Computers are more prevalent now, for one thing and because she’s blind, that presents a bit of a problem. She’s done her best obtain training on using screen readers to navigate computers, and is not adverse to asking for help when she needs it.
Today she wanted my help in setting up a web page for her job seekers group, Unlimited Success. I’d done a little research and found out that WordPress (thank goodness) was the most accessible weblog so suggested she use WordPress.com. After three hours of trial and error she decided to switch gears and let me do the actual content uploads.
Sitting next to Maria today made me realize how very hard it is to navigate the Internet without sight. Pages are set up for the sighted. Looking at my “write post” page, I have no problem figuring out what to do. When you use this page with a screen reader, however, it is not so simple. We could not work out how to move from the Title field to the post field. Tab was the logical keystroke, but it went directly to Save and continue editing. The keystroke(s) that need to be used are the down arrow. This will highlight all of the wysiwyg entities before settling into the post field. That is too much work. There needs to be a way to move easily from Title to Post. I cannot even imagine what the widgets area is like for a screen reader user.
So Matt, if you are listening – there is work to be done to make this an accessible place for all.
Anyway, keep an eye on http://unltdsuccess.wordpress.com It should have some great information for blind and visually impared job seekers, especially in the DC Metro area.