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GAAD 2023: Keyboard Hero 🎹🦸

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is on Thursday, May 18, 2023. It’s the 12th GAAD!. This year, I’m focusing on the keyboard.

🦸 Be a hero

Making things work well with the keyboard is good for usability and essential for accessibility. The best part is that we don’t need any special equipment to start testing!

Here are some light-hearted accessibility activities to have a go at.

Want something quick? Check out 🕹️ Shall We Play A Game?
Want something deep? Check out the main event: 🐭 vs 🎹 Mouse vs Keyboard.

🐭 vs 🎹 Mouse vs Keyboard

Spoilers! Many people use a mix of mouse and keyboard. What they use can change with content and context.

At one end: 100% mouse 🐭 (or trackpad. Also know as “👉” (pointer)).

  • Who always uses a mouse?
  • Who never uses a physical keyboard?
    • Might they might be using an on-screen keyboard or voice control?

🦸 Be a hero

  • In your browser, go to a bit of UI you’ve worked on recently.
  • Does it work with mouse only (except for bits that require typing in data)?

At the other end: 100% keyboard 🎹

  • Who always uses the keyboard?
  • Who never uses the mouse?

Why is that?

🦸 Be a hero

  • In your browser, go to a bit of UI you’ve worked on recently.
  • Does it work with keyboard only?

Where do these fine folk sit on the line from all-🐭 to all-🎹?

Hint: This stuff is on a spectrum. Many people use a mix!

Someone who…

  • is a “Power user”
  • is on old technology, that works… intermittently
  • has an injury to their dominant arm
  • is a bit older and has less precise motor control
  • has arthritis
  • has Low Vision
  • is on a smartphone
  • is… You! 🫵

How does the experience change if you slide towards the other end of the scale?

🕹️ Shall We Play A Game?

Fancy a bit of spooky fun? Check out Hocus Focus, a keyboard accessibility horror game. It’s 8 levels of Halloween-themed keyboard trickery to daze and amaze.

It’s a slightly silly simulation of common (keyboard-related) web accessibility issues, like:

  • focus styles (can I see where I am?)
  • logical order (am I moving in reading order?) (left to right, top to bottom, in English)
  • keyboard traps (can I reach everywhere on the page?)

Psst! If you want a hint for level 7: try using your Shift key too!

🦸 Be a hero

For each level:
  • Have a think about who might this “trick, not treat” affect?
  • In your browser, go to a bit of UI you’ve worked on recently. Does this level’s “trick, not treat” happen anywhere?

A bit more about games and accessibility

Check out Difficulty Vs Accessibility (video, 6m3s). In it, Ian Hamilton talks about how:

  • difficulty is capability vs barrier;
  • disability is mismatched interactions between capability and barrier;
  • accessibility is avoiding unnecessary mismatches

📺 Go a little wider

Check out Web Accessibility Perspectives: Keyboard Compatibility (video, 47s) for more on keyboards and accessiblity.

Want to learn more about assistive technology is general? Check out one of these:

Fancy a gently humourous take on accessiblity? Check out Disability Sensitivity Training Video (video, 3m40s).

🛑 Tab… stop!

Oh, you’re still here? You want an advanced activity? 🤔

Well, try this out.

🦸 Be a(n advanced) hero

  • In your browser, go to a bit of UI you’ve worked on recently.
  • (Using just the keyboard) How many keystrokes does it take to complete the main task?
    • Don’t worry about counting keystrokes for typing words.
    • Only count interaction keystrokes: `Tab`, Arrow keys (`↑`, `→`, `↓`, `←`), `Space`, `Enter`.
  • How long does it take compared to using mouse and keyboard?

🦸 (Keep) Be(ing) a hero

Good work. Don’t stop now! Be a Keyboard Hero tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. ❤️

  • Think a little more who uses the keyboard.
  • Testing a little with the keyboard. (Check out the Keyboard section of the QAC for more!)
  • Keep learning a little more about how different humans use different technology.