Accessibility of IRCTC registration page

Ravi is a clever student from his childhood. He was born and brought up in a village in Andhra Pradesh. He is good at studies and sports from his childhood days.

At the age of 16 he was diagnosed as a patient of Retinitis pigmentosa(external website) an retinal disorder. He was taken to all the major eye institutes in India. Ravi has understood that Retinitis Pigmentosa(External website) is an disorder which has no cure anywhere in the world.

After completion of his school he has joined for his higher studies. By the time he was in graduation his vision started deteriorating. By the help and support of his parents and friends he has completed his graduation. Later he came to know about the software that enables the visually challenged people to use computers. He joined an institute which teaches various skills including computers for visually challenged people to live an independent life at Bangalore. With the support of that institute he got a job in one of the multi-national firms.

Ravi has improved his skills in using computers with the help of JAWS and learnt independent living skills. As the job is in Bangalore he used to travel to his village once in a month. He has to book his tickets quite often. Then he has come across the website www.irctc.co.in. He says that IRCTC website is not very accessible using his screen reader. He has to go to the railway booking counter for booking his train tickets.

He says that the IRCTC (external website) do not have the option to book his ticket with the railway concession certificate. He has to physically go to the counter to do so. Can’t we say IRCTC is discriminating persons with disabilities in providing the same experience that a general user has?

Below are few major difficulties that he faced while registering for the online passenger reservation system.

Accessibility problems in the registration page of IRCTC

  • The main heading of the page “Individual Registration” is a level 3 heading. As per the accessibility standards and screen reader user experience the main heading of the page should be heading level one. No alternate ways of skipping the top navigation is available. User has to go through all the navigational links to reach the main content area. This mechanism is difficult even for a person who use only a keyboard. Use ARIA landmarks for easy navigation of various parts of the web page.
  • The instruction “* mandatory” is not self explanatory. People who have learning difficulties will not understand the content. Instruction such as “Fields marked with “*” are mandatory” would have been better.
  • No form element in the web page has a label associated with it. As per accessibility standards every form field should have a label. Each label should be associated with their corresponding form fields. When it is difficult to provide a label the same experience can be made available for screen reader users using ARIA labels. To know more about ARIA labels look at our ARIA-labels article.
  • The instructions for “User id”, “Email id”, “mobile” are provided after the form fields. It will be a bad experience for a screen reader user to read the instruction and navigate back to the field to fill it up. Provide the instructions after the label and before the form field for a enhanced user experience.
  • On filling the user id and hit on the “Check availability” link the instruction is provided at the beginning of the form. No intimation is provided to the user that the success/failure message is displayed. Ensure that the updated content is intimated to the screen reader user and provide a mechanism for him to quickly check the information.
  • CAPTCHA, the most inaccessible web element till date. Instead of an image CAPTCHA so many other ways are available for differentiating the automated process to a human. Unless the user know the usage of technologies such as webvisum (External website) solving of CAPTCHA is almost impossible. Some websites provide an audio CAPTCHA as alternate solution which is also difficult to solve most of the times. Provide an accessible CAPTCHA. This part of the form is making the registration of online train booking system impossible.

These are the high level complex accessibility issues that Ravi has faced while registering himself with www.irctc.co.in. This is not only the problem of Ravi. It is the problem of many persons with disabilities in India. Readers provide your valuable comments and suggestions. This is my experience as on 30th March, 2013. Please don’t consider this blog if IRCTC has made any changes after this date.

In a future post I will provide the experience in booking the train ticket.

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