Accessible India campaign, launched during December 2015 was one of the great initiatives by Government of India. I was very glad and inspired by the outstanding addressing of Mr Mukesh Jain. The statement “Disability arises not from the impairment, but comes from obstacles present in the environment” won my heart. I have extreme respect and a lot of hope on the campaign. Since then I have been following the initiatives through twitter and other available social media channels.
I have shared the launch of the initiative through an article to spread a word to my readers and the network. Being a passionate web accessibility consultant, I try my best to inform the accessibility problems on various websites and applications, help them fixed and make them available for everyone including those with disabilities and those who have age old difficulties.
Today I got a chance to look at the website of the campaign at http://accessibleindia.gov.in. . The website developers have tried to make the website accessible. It was a very good attempt. Few features such as Skip to main content, text re-size and high contrast modes may help certain set of users. Let me explain you the basic accessibility problems on the website those would have been easily addressed. A careful and quick accessibility check on the website will identify the same.
Improper alternate text
The alternate text provided for the images on the home page are unclear and ambiguous. Appropriate alternate text helps visually challenged users to understand the content conveyed through the images. The screen reading software can recognize the information provided in the alt attribute of the image tag and read it out for the blind and visually challenged users.
The images before Build-up environment, transport Systems and ICT Eco systems have the following alternate text readout by screen readers.
- For built Up Environment – Alt=”56012f8467e6bbuild-up.jpg”
- For transport Systems – alt=”56012fa6d7b59trasnpoart.jpg”
- For ICT Eco System – alt=”56012f9a7ffceICT.jpg”
These alternate text information does not convey the user about the meaning of the image and will confuse the user.
All the three banner images in the header have same alternate text. When navigated by the screen reader they says Graphic banner 1 for all the three images.
The label for the search is provided as “Seacrh”. This problem can easily identified by any tester on a quick glance. The label for the search button is provided through the title attribute. Due to this screen reader NVDA is announcing it as Submit Query search. Instead the value attribute will communicate the information clearly.
Association of labels
The improper tie between for and id attributes in the state and Category dropdowns under Accessibility Request makes it difficult for the screen reader users to access the form. Especially the Category label will not be announced to the screen reader users when you navigate the page with the tab key. On the other hand when navigated to the state dropdown screen reader announces it as State Category. This is due to improper mapping of for attribute in the label element and id attribute in the select element.
The dropdowns that allow the user to select State, District, Category, Sub Category does not have labels visible on the screen. Observe these elements under “Accessibility Request”. The labels are provided but are hidden for visual users but announced by screen reader users. Are the labels only for screen reader users?
The pagination elements in the banner region that helps the user to change the banner images are mouse dependent. Users who cannot use mouse (Keyboard only users) cannot change the images using the pagination elements and need to use previous and next links to change the banner image. Though an additional way is provided for the user to change the banner images pagination elements also need to be available for keyboard only users.
Failed Link purpose
Many active images in the page fail to provide either proper link text or alternate text that convey the target or purpose of the link. Sample image links can be found before the names of the individuals who uploaded the photos.
These problems are identified on a quick glance on the home page. Another interesting fact is not mentioning of JAWS (Job Access with Speech) the oldest and highly used screen reader in the Screen Reader Access page. Though JAWS is also a commercial screen reader such as Window-Eyes it would have been worth mentioning since it is confirmed as highly used primary screen reader by Web AIM screen reader survey during July 2015. I am not sure why Supernova is mentioned in the page where inbuilt screen readers such as Voiceover an Chromevox are not mentioned.
Accessibility India campaign is not just another program, it is a game changer for the lives of persons with disabilities. Making India accessible means invoking the potential of persons with disabilities, bringing them to the main-stream society, including them in the social life, allowing them to contribute to the nation building, adding their income potential to the national income.