deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
[personal profile] deborah
Dreamwidth's most recent code push included a wonderful change from [personal profile] allen. It's a clear example of enhancing usability for all while maximizing accessibility. Full Disclosure: [personal profile] allen asked my advice about the best way to make this feature accessible. But disclosure about the disclosure: I love that he asked me. When developers aren't sure about accessibility of new designs and features, especially for Javascript-reliant features, they should always turn to accessibility experts for advice! (Also, if anyone finds accessibility bugs in the feature, report them; I'll fix ASAP if I can replicate.)

[personal profile] allen's fix, reported in Code tour: 2017-05-01 to 2017-10-28, adds keyboard and touch shortcuts for advancing to the next or previous entry. The settings can be seen on the account settings page for a logged-in user:
keyboard shortcuts settings tab

Image long decription
The "Keyboard shortcuts" tab has the text "Keyboard and mobile (touch) shortcuts" and offers the following configuration options:
  • For Keyboard shortcuts: A checkbox labelled "Enables keyboard shorcuts," followed by two choices: "next" and "previous". Each has a text entry field in which the user can enter any character, and checkboxes allowing zero to three possible keybindings (Control, Alt, or Meta).
  • For Touch shortcuts: A checkbox labelled "Enables touch shortcuts," followed by two choices: "next" and "previous". Each has a choice to set a particular touch gesture, or disable that gesture.

This settings page presents options for all the keyboard shortcuts you can use on Dreamwidth, which, currently, are only shortcuts to skip to the next and previous entries. (It's unlikely that this list will get much longer. [staff profile] denise has some Very Wise Thoughts about decision fatigue, user experience, and a surplus of options.)

So, yay, keyboard and touch shortcuts to make pages faster to navigate! A clear usability win for many people, and perforce a clear accessibility win! But why is this more accessible than always-on, non-configurable settings pages? I'm so glad you asked.

Many assistive technologies set their own keyboard shortcuts. In fact, many browser add-ons set their own, as well. When these conflict with one another, there can be very unexpected behaviour. I set these keys to unmodified J and K, which work splendidly as easy-to-dictate and easy-to-type commands, but conflict with most screen readers out of the box. In fact, because of their broad adoption in many applications over many decades, they'll also conflict with many browser extensions out of the box. There's no such thing as a universally safe keybinding.

A few years back, when I was using Gmail for work, I had to disable every one of the keybindings! It turned out that on in my environment, something (I never tracked down what, exactly) was causing a conflict where sometimes characters typed or dictated in a text field were being interpreted as Gmail shortcuts. It made it impossible to send mail, for obvious reasons. Other webapps I've never been able to use at all, because their non-optional keybindings conflicted with accessibility settings I've set in my own environment.

So kudos to Dreamwidth for this beautifully accessible usability enhancement.

Date: 2018-07-17 07:58 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] jazzyjj
I just had a quick look at the new tab in the Settings area. Nice job! I'll have to play around with these later as I've got other things to do. But I enabled them. I also have an iPhone now, so will have to try these out. Who knows, perhaps these will speed up some things for me on my iPhone. But thanks again. Dw just keeps on getting awesomer and awesomer. Did I just coin a new word?

Date: 2018-07-19 02:37 am (UTC)
msilverstar: (Default)
From: [personal profile] msilverstar
I use J and K on various services and really like them, so thanks for this!

Date: 2018-07-19 11:26 pm (UTC)
cyprinella: goat standing in front of a banner reading "DOOM" (goat doom)
From: [personal profile] cyprinella
So I set up j and k for next and previous, and j takes me all the way to the end of my read page, k all the way to the top. I highly suspect it's because my style is extremely old and ported over from LJ when we were all first moving over.

Date: 2018-07-21 06:46 am (UTC)
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
From: [personal profile] afuna
This is awesome <3
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