October 8, 2023

Blogtober Blurb

This list is a part of a series of blogtober posts for October 2023. I very frequently overthink what I write and end up not writing it. Maybe if I make myself write and post something every day, I can help get past that.

Not everything needs to be an Epic. Sometimes a nice couplet can be revelatory. 7 of 31 (hopefully)

Wuh Cag

Clippy is existential dread contorted into any office supply If, like me, you work in the accessibility space and spend any amount of time auditing any technology, you’ve been eagerly awaiting publication of WCAG 2.2. And (like… it’s been nigh complete for over a year) it happened! It’s like Christmas.

If Christmas was wrapped in sparkly, red tape.

I like sparkles. And I like red tape.

Any Way….

While not a ton has changed on the last few months from the prepublication statues, there’s enough detail to go through that I think its a good excuse to brush up on them here.

I wanted to start with Consistent help helping consistently because it’s been top of mind for me in recent projects at work. Also, the M-Enabling Summit is next week (I’ll be there! Will you?) so I imagine 2.2 will pop up.

Consistent Help

One of the more prominent applications of AI I’v been seeing is into chat bots and other front line consumer interaction. What has been interesting to see is WHERE these things appear on screens.

There’s a trend to put these super-contextual interactions floating above the content as a way to keep them persistent for users but unobtrusive.”. Now, the successful news of that is definitely up for debate.

But, that’s part of what I like about 3.2.6 is trying to make consistent the access implementations of these tools.

Consider the Following

Now, if we were to follow the sight-based location for these elements, which tend to be on the lower corner (left or right) portion of the screen. Following that, these elements should appear at the end of the tab order - either entirely or iun some dynamically inserted end of visible page” context, the latter would be terrible (and a violation of 3.2.2 and 3.2.5).

But putting something helpful (lets assume chat bots are helpful [I know {I’m not generally a fan either}] at the end of the page makes it far less useful if you don;t now it is there to start AND/OR have to tab through a page to get to it. Anything at the end of a page, especially if it is after this like buttons that change pages or advance forms, they effectively don’t exist.

Then What Do?

So the options become putting them into some sort of announcement region or quasi pop-up component that can inject itself into the users flow when it becomes relevant. Which.. is also kind of awful? I don’t want something jumping in front of my face when I’m trying to do something, even if it THINKS I need help. Looking at you, Clippy…

Consistency Is an Accessibility Principle

3.2.6 states very clearly that any mechanism intended to hlp users needs to appear in consistent locations ad only interact with users when that interaction is initiated by the user.

Louder for the back.


So don’t appear and try to be helpful. It’s disruptive. Just exist there and be there when I say I need you.

And maybe moreso, which is probably a topic for a future post, don’t appear when I’m not doing what you want.


Up next

<< Eventually Brutalism is a thing. >>