Monday, 9 June 2008

All in a Twitter

I've just discovered Twitter. It really is a nifty little thing and quite addictive, although it's rather like the status updates in Facebook which I use more often, and which more of my friends use. Having said that, I'm not going to rule out the obvious advantages this application has for immediacy and ease of access from mobile phones, which at least 90% if not more of the population must have. Before you ask, yes, you can get mobile phones if you're visually impaired (you can also use a mobile for something other than texting or looking up the internet - phones were originally invented to allow voice communications after all). The RNIB has an information sheet on accessible mobile phones which is worth looking at.

So how does Twitter fare with JAWS? Pretty well it has to be said:
  1. It's easy to navigate around, with a simple layout, that shouldn't put anyone off using it.
  2. There is some repetition of words in JAWS, probably owing to information in the alt text field, so that when you go to sign-in it says "Please sign in, please sign in user name edit" and "Please sign in password, password edit". It's good to have the alt text, but the repetition gets a bit annoying. A case of over accessibilitising (if that's a word?)
  3. There are icons you can click on to add tweets to your favourites list as well as delete. These are nice and clear when you look at them on the screen. Rolling the mouse over them also gives nice alt text, but when JAWS reads, all you get is "icon underscore star underscore empty" and "icon underscore trash". Having looked at the underlying source code this is because the title is favourite this update or delete this update while the img_alt is icon_star_empty and icon_trash. I don't know if there's a way to change my JAWS settings to allow it to read the title or if it wouldn't make more sense to change the img_alt to the same as title?
  4. Couldn't seem to input my phone number easily when JAWS was on. It kept telling me that there were no heading 4's on the page when all I wanted to type was +44 to start off my phone number. Is this a JAWS setting issue or the application? I know the navigation quick key for heading 4 is the number 4, but even when I went into Forms mode to add the numbers, it didn't switch off.
All in all, it's nicely set out and simple. Plus there is the added joy that the graphic alt text for the profile pictures is the same as your user name. You can avoid those annoying numbers that appear in Facebook - just as long as you can remember what snazzy name your friends chose...

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