Page 8 - Grapevine Sept-Oct 2019
P. 8

In The Winery

            operating systems, or their assistive devices such as    Fair enough. But what about the benefit of wid-
            electronic screen readers (JAWS and NVDA are the     gets as a risk-mitigation tool? Is there not some
            two most popular). Most users who would benefit      advantage that website owners derive from prom-
            from a widget’s functionality already have these     inently displaying this software on their site? To
            options available and are using them when needed.  this, Ms. Spellman offers a definitive no: “Plugins
            So instead of providing new ways to access infor-    do not help you if you are sued. Additionally,
            mation, widgets only succeed in further confusing    installing a custom overlay over your code ...
            assistive devices, which now have yet another        requires changing the custom overlay every time
            potential barrier on the website to try to “read”    you make a change to your site. In the end, you still
            and “understand.”                                    have an inaccessible site.” In the end, the only use
                                                                 Ms. Spellman sees for widgets is as a temporary
              Some experts have been vocal in their opposition   patch while business owners fix their sites.
            to widgets as a quick-fix tool. Jeanne Spellman, a
            19-year veteran of web accessibility, represents the                 Take Action Now
            World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the group that
            creates the WCAG guidelines. When asked about          In the short term, what should wineries do in
            the rise of widgets, Ms. Spellman referred to them   order to minimize their risk of costly litigation?
            as “snake oil” and noted their likelihood of exacer-  Here are some steps that make for a good start:
            bating a website’s accessibility hurdles. “Installing
            plugins that provide text-to- speech or screen       •  Hire a true expert in website accessibility. There
            magnification,” she writes, “does not help people       are many new players in the digital accessibility
            who are blind or low-vision, because these inferior     world, many of whom come from other busi-
            plugins interfere with real assistive technology the    nesses like web design or marketing. They may
            blind or low-vision person already owns and uses.”      be experts in their core business, but they’re
            Page 6                        The Grapevine • September - October 2019                            877-892-5332
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