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Tips and Tricks

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Accessibility: Speaking Softly

I used to have a relative who typed everything in all caps. She said she just accidentally left the caps lock on and continued typing.

The problem with that form of writing is that it looks like shouting. Some people see it as rude while others see it as annoying, but that’s just what visual users see.

From a blind user’s perspective, you are not only speaking softly, you are speaking in acronyms:

I love you” sounds like “I. L.O.V.E. Y.O.U.”

It’s like having an adult conversation around children and suddenly turning to spelling as though your children can’t understand what bad words you’re saying. Trust me, they are smart. They’ll figure it out, in time. Your blind users don’t have time to practice their spelling, so this once again comes off as rude or annoying.

Web Services has some tricks inside Cascade Server for handling all caps words when they are needed.

  1. Keep moderation in mind. The more you “shout,” the more annoying you “sound.” If you must use all caps for something, type it all out in upper- and lower-case letters first (i.e., I love you), then highlight the text, and change the Style to “AllUpperCase.” It will change to “I Love You” without any further assistance. The style creates the appearance of all caps without annoying acronyms. If the style is removed, the text looks normal and easy to read – no shouting.
  2. Allow the styles already defined in the web page layout to do the work for you. For example, Heading 1, Heading 2, and Heading 3 currently have styles of (1) background color, (2) foreground color, (3) bolding, and (4) all uppercase transformation. That means you don’t need to do the work of typing it in all caps – or even bolding, for that matter. Make sure to type it all out in upper- and lower-case letters, and press Submit when you are done.

Note: In the Edit mode on the WYSIWYG editor, I’ve set all the formats to show upper- and lower-case spelling, so you can see where you have accidentally used all caps. Don’t forget to check your Heading Text as well. A lot of those have been accidentally typed in all caps, too.

Technical / Legal Stuff

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 makes this a little easier to understand:

  • WCAG Guideline 1.3 - Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.