– Please Note: the following is a guest blog post by one of our customers Keith Hinton –
A little About Me:
My name is Keith Hinton, and I am 26 years of age. I am an accomplished musician and have been blind since birth. I started a journey as an entrepreneur online a number of years ago and like many businesses that means that I am a customer of internet services. After several years of trying one hosting provider after another, I finally found Codero and that is why I am sharing my experiences today.
Firstly, I should mention that I don’t run a huge organization. Still, I’ve always counted on Codero’s enterprise level solutions to help me run my business with the level of support and value on my personal road to success. My site has been around since 2009, and through various incarnations it has followed different monetization strategies, and the biggest challenges throughout all of these was interfacing with the technology and support. To share but one of my stories, at one time I had started hosting sites on a dedicated, self-managed server. The service had integrated payment systems, billing and everything but SSL services that one would need to host sites. It was an interesting, but non-sustainable venture in the end. What I ran into in case after case were problems with accessibility of the website systems each host had in place.
Why I love Codero:
As I mentioned I am blind, and the accessibility of the site through a screen reader is key for me. What I found with Codero’s ServerPortal, is an amazing experience with their control panel optimized for screen readers.
Furthermore, What I’ve found with Codero is a great partner that helps me with my current business. They make what I do easier with great support. Not only are their services a great value, but it’s absolutely reliable. I can always count on the service on whatever project I’m working on.
How to Design for Accessibility
I use a screen reader to navigate the web, and there are things that webmasters can do to make the sites they compose more accessible. It is important to note however that making a site work well with screen readers is but one of the important things that make for an accessible site. You have to take into account the visual aspects of your potential audience, and being blind or visually impaired is only one possibility in terms of the disabilities that people may have.
How about the deaf/blind for example?
How you approach accessibility of websites for those people won’t be necessarily the same way you would for screen readers. Now I don’t profess to be a total expert on the subject, as I’m still learning myself every day just from browsing the web, but you’d be surprised at what you can find by opening a search engine and typing something like screen reader optimization. What I can do however, is to provide some general tips.
- Label your forms – Use labels on form feeds such as edit boxes, buttons, etc.
- Use headings where possible – since screen readers can jump to sections of a web page at all of the heading levels one through six.
- Use HTML 5 compliance and W3C guidelines compliances in your webpages – this won’t just help screen reader users, but everybody else
- Avoid Flash where possible -Flash is hardly implemented properly unless Accessible Flash is used, and that is somewhat rare
In fact, most of the time, Flash offers little value for screen readers.
The worst examples are the flash based podcast players and video players; most of the time the screen reader won’t even know what to do, since the buttons won’t have labels, and we may hear things like “unlabeled 0 button” and so on. We may also not have access to Flash at all depending on the operating system used and screen reader used. These things go for Windows reader level, Firefox and Internet Explorer. The default iOS browser Safari uses Voiceover, Apple’s built-in reader/magnification system and it has never had and never will have access to Flash content.
So you can see that making a site accessible has a lot of components, a lot of pieces and testing that needs to take place to validate that the site not only looks the way you want, but can be used with real-world reader technology. Folks with disabilities benefit from equal access to visual programs like GarageBand 10 or Logic Pro X, so accessibility in the design is critical. The biggest thing that can be done along these guidelines is implementing HTML5 heavily and aggressively over Flash.
For Windows screen reading resources, you can go and check out two commercial vendors, http://www.FreedomScientific.com and the folks over at GW Micro, who make Window-Eyes, http://www.GWMicro.com. Another company worth checking out is Serotek, http://www.Serotek.com. For an open source Windows solution, you can run NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access), by heading over to http://www.nvaccess.org
“As I mentioned I am blind, and the accessibility of the site through a screen reader is key for me. What I found with Codero’s ServerPortal, is an amazing experience with their control panel optimized for screen readers.” – Keith Hinton
I found that Codero follows many of the above guidelines in their serverportal and design. Furthermore, I found that Codero gives me access to enterprise grade capabilities, and is a great hosting partner, that cares about their customers big or small.
— Keith Hinton