Older web users and text size

Our research into use of the web and other information and communication technologies by people over the age of sixty is producing some interesting results. In this article I want to comment briefly on some of the responses relating to the size of text on web pages.

This research, which I’m conducting in association with Peter Hindmarsh and Russ Weakley, has three main components:

  • An online survey of ICT use by people over sixty to gain an overview of the technologies they use, what they use them for, and common problems the might encounter.
  • A real-world survey with participants of same age group using the same questions as those in the online survey
  • Qualitative interviews with the real-world survey participants, using different mock-ups of a web page to stimulate discussion about issues they might encounter when using the web.

We are still collecting and collating the results, however the responses from one of the participants I surveyed yesterday highlighted one of the common threads that are beginning to emerge.

In the online and real-world survey we ask the participants to indicate how often they experience a range of problems when using websites. One of the problems we cite is, “The size and/or colour of the words make them difficult to read.” With the online survey 124 participants answered this question, and;

  • 13% indicated they often felt this was a problem,
  • 46% indicated it was sometimes a problem, and
  • 41% indicated it was never a problem.

The findings of the real-world survey were very similar. The majority of real-world respondents indicated they never felt the size or colour of text was a problem when using sites. However, during the more qualitative aspect of the surveying a different picture emerged.

The mock-ups for the qualitative survey deliberately used text that was a little small but still within the general range what you see on many sites. One version of the mock-up page had icons at the top right of the page for changing text size and providing a high contrast version of the page (the icons were same as those used on other sites); Another version of the page had the word “accessibility” in the footer and no icons; And, the final version of the page had both the icons and the word “accessibility”.

During the qualitative interviews, the participants were asked in an open-ended question to describe the main difficulties they experience when using pages on the web. Although a few participants indicated they had no concerns, over 50% volunteered text size was sometimes a problem. Later however, when the participants were specifically asked if they had ever experienced any difficulties with the size of the writing on web pages and during the discussions, nearly all of the participants said that they sometimes found the text too small. This included some of the people who had initially indicated they had no concerns. The comments from participants included:

  • Not usually a problem, but sometimes the text can be hard to read because of the size
  • This is sometimes a problem – sites are designed by young people with good vision
  • Text is very often too small (but I can increase it with the browser)
  • Text can be small and on some sites colour can be a problem but generally ok
  • Small text is particularly annoying when there is plenty of space

The participants were also asked what they normally did when they found that the words on the page were too small to read comfortably. From the discussions, it appears that less than half of the participants knew that they could change the size of the text on the page. Comments included:

  • I use the browser to make them bigger if I need to
  • If I have to read it, I will try getting closer to the screen or getting someone else to help.
  • I have printed out pages that are important and then made them bigger with a photocopier.
  • I’d have a problem. I’d try another site, or maybe print the page out and see if that is better
  • You can use the zoom to make it bigger
  • Just use ctrl + to increase the size
  • Go to another site if I can’t read it
  • Tend to go past it. If critical you labour by getting closer to the screen
  • I wouldn’t know how to change the size

A participant I surveyed yesterday is in his sixties and he teaches at a university. He uses computers to access the internet and web everyday, makes online purchases and is an occasional user of social networking sites. In short, he is not what you would call a novice user. In keeping with the other survey results, this participant initially indicated he ‘sometimes’ found the text on the page too small. However, when this issue was discussed during the qualitative interview he said, “Maybe 30 – 40% of the time the writing is too small.”

This participant was the only one so far to notice the in-page tools (icons) for changing the presentation of text and said that when they were available, he used them to increase the text if he needed to make it bigger. I then asked him what he did if he found that some text he had to read was too small but the page did not have any in-page tools and he replied, “It depends, with my iPad I zoom, but on the (work) computer I copy and paste the words into a document and then use Word to increase the size.”

One of the interesting things to come out of this part of the survey is the apparent discrepancy between the quantitative and qualitative results when it comes to text size. Why did the participants appear to underplay the issue of text size in the quantitative surveys? Perhaps, the answer lies in a tendency by some people to blame themselves rather than the equipment when they encounter problems? This is not an uncommon situation with older users of information and communication technologies.

Or maybe, it is related to the gradual and unpredictable nature of age-related capability decline as described by David Sloan and others. Sloan argues that in contrast to people with more extreme disabilities, there are fundamental challenges to overcome when it comes to supporting older people with the most appropriate assistive technologies. One of these challenges is making the older person aware that they have accessibility needs, since age-related impairment is often easily discounted or ignored as being just an inevitable part of growing old.

With this awareness, we then have to work out what are the most appropriate solutions and how to deliver them.

Hear more at CSUN

I will be discussing issues associated with the use of ICT by older people and proposals to improving their ability to access web content in my paper, Improving Web Accessibility for the Elderly at the CSUN 2011 conference in San Diego.

Baby Boomers and the Web

When we talk about the Baby Boomer generation, we usually refer to the people born in the years between 1946 and 1964[i], the post-war boom of rapid population growth particularly in countries like the U.S. and Australia. “Baby boomers” are sometimes divided into “early boomers” (1946-55), and “late boomers” (1956-1964)[ii] . In this article I am primarily concerned with the “early boomers”, who are now in their late fifties and sixties, and those people a little older than them from the “Silent Generation”[iii] (1940-1946), who are now mainly in retirement.

Although the total percentage of all web users over the age of 60 is still relatively low, the proportion of people within this age group who are going online is increasing all the time. The “PEW Internet and Lifestyle” 2009 survey in the U.S. for example, reported the percentage of adults 65 and older using the Internet had increased from 15% in 2000 to 38% in 2009[iv]. Similar growths in web usage by older sections of the population have been reported in other countries. The Australian Bureau of Statistics survey in 2006-07 found that the greatest rate of growth in Internet use was by those in 65-74 age group with 28% (up from 20% in 2004-05) of all people in that age group going on line.[v]

In developed countries like Australia and the US, government and business are increasingly looking to the Internet for service delivery. In Australia for example, the 2010 report of the “Government 2.0 Taskforce”[vi] advocated greater use of the internet and, in particular, social networking tools by government agencies. Also many financial services can now be accessed online with computers and more recently mobile phones.

The move to online service delivery offers some clear benefits in terms of cost and improved efficiency. Also, the use of social networking tools could potentially enhance openness and greater community participation in the process of government[vii]. However as more and more essential services go online, there is a real danger that a significant number of older people may be unable or unwilling to access them. For example, see an earlier blog post about a man in his sixties who doesn’t want to go online and feels that his access to information in the real world is diminishing.

Age per se is not a disability, but it does increase the risk for a range of chronic, disabling illnesses including Parkinson Disease and Alzheimer. Also, as a natural consequence of the aging process, our auditory and visual acuity and our fine motor skills tend to diminish and we are likely to find remembering some things more difficulty.

It might be reasonable to assume “baby boomers” should have little difficulty adopting new technologies. After all, the formative years for the “early boomers” were marked by an explosion in personal freedom, social experimentation, better education and greater wealth. At the same time there was growing concern for the welfare of others and greater engagement in the socio-political processes. Bob Dylan told us “The times they are changing” and urged mothers and fathers to, “Get out of the road if they can’t lend a hand[viii]; and Martin Luther King spoke of a better future in “I have a Dream[ix].

The Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, Daniel Schacter, in his book “The Seven Sins of Memory”, however suggests the Baby Boomer Generation maybe particularly prone to memory loss. “These memory deficits are particularly evident when older adults are required to recollect the particulars of an experience, such as exactly when and where an event occurred. Older adults lose specific details and tend to rely even more that younger adults on a general sense of knowing that something happened.” [x]

Clearly, there are elderly people who make extensive use of the internet and in many respects they use it in much the same way as their younger counterparts. However, when it comes to using computers and the adoption of new connective technologies, the ability of “early baby boomers” is highly varied: Although virtually none used computers during their formative years, some as a result of either interest or their work environment became active participants in the personal computing revolution, but there are still many people over the age of 60 who have had very little or no experience with computers.

For the computer literate “early boomers”, the challenges posed by the interactive, interconnected media of today are less likely to be technological, but rather ones of attitude and civic behaviour. The apparent lack of concern for privacy in the social networking space and the highly opinionated, and sometimes brutal, language of the blogosphere and Twitter they find confronting.

The “early boomers” with limited exposure to computers however, can face significant problems when confronted with the need to “go online” in order to access goods and services. The ability to encode new memories declines as we get older and since this group have little or no past experience of computers to build on they are likely to find learning how to use the these new media more difficult than their computer and web literate counterparts.

Most producers of web content appear to give little consideration to the needs and abilities of those over the age of 60. And those who do try to address this segment of the population often make the mistake of lumping them together into a single generic group of “the elderly.”

In association with a couple of friends, Peter Hindmash and Russ Weakley, I am currently researching the use of Internet and mobile phone technologies by people over the age of sixty. If this includes you and you wish to participate, please complete our online survey of “Mature Age Internet Users“.

The results of the survey will be used in future articles on this topic and will be incorporated into a paper, Improving Web Accessibility for the Elderly, which I am presenting at CSUN 2011 on March 16.

[i] “Are you a Baby Boomer?”, http://www.babyboomers.com.au/about-you.html

[ii] “Baby Boom Generation”, Encyclopaedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society, http://www.faqs.org/childhood/Ar-Bo/Baby-Boom-Generation.html

[iii] “The Silent Generation”, (originally described by Time Magazine in 1953 and revisited in this essay) Time Magazine Essay, 29 June 2010, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,878847-1,00.html

[iv] “PEW Internet and Lifestyle Survey”, 2009, http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1484/social-media-mobile-internet-use-teens-millennials-fewer-blog

[v] “Internet Access at Home”, Australian Social Trends, 2008. Australian Bureau of Statistics http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Chapter10002008

[vi] “Government 2.0 Taskforce” (Australia), http://gov2.net.au/

[vii] “Government 2.0 Taskforce Report”, Australia, http://gov2.net.au/report/

[viii] “The Times They Are Changing”, Bob Dylan http://www.justsomelyrics.com/331870/Bob-Dylan-The-Times-They-are-Changing-Lyrics

[ix] “I have a Dream”, Martin Luther King, 1963, YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEMXaTktUfA

[x] Schacter, D. “The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers”, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 2001.

Ghost Bike

The first time I heard the term ghost bikes was in an American forensic television series with an acronym for a title (don’t they all) that I was watching just before Christmas. It seemed like a neat dramatic device in an otherwise rather ordinary tv show, but nothing more.

On Christmas day, while driving with the family to a friend’s house for lunch, I saw my first ghost bike, painted white and chained to a pole at an intersection on O’Riordan Street, a busy road between Sydney city and the airport.

White Ghost bike chained to street sign

I am not a bike rider. Nor have I paid much attention in the past to the increasing number telegraph poles and trees festooned with flowers and crosses, silent witnesses to the road toll. However, there was something quite poignant about this stark white bike. We didn’t stop, as Christmas lunch with fine food, wine and friends beckoned, but the image of the bike with white tyres stayed with me.

The next day, I happened to drive through the intersection again. This time, I stopped to have closer look at the bike and learn just a little about a young bike rider who was lost to all at that spot a few weeks earlier.

White Ghost bike with information attached

Rider information sign on ghost bike

It seems that the first Ghost Bike memorial was in St. Louis, Missouri in 2003. Since that time, ghost bikes have appeared in many other cities in the US, most notably Seattle and New York, and then spread throughout the world. The Ghostbikes.org site has more information and a list of locations where ghost bikes are silently demanding safer roads for all.

Elderly Person who doesn’t want email

I am currently surveying people over the age of 60 about their use of information communication technologies and this has resulted in talking with some interesting people with challenging ideas.

On the weekend, I met with a retired man in his sixties, who is intelligent, financially independent and owns his home. Following a life in business, he made a conscious decision to not have a computer at home, but occasionally visits the local library when he wants to use the web. He basically finds the web hard to use and, perhaps not surprising, feels overwhelmed by the advertisements and a lot of what he described as, “irrelevant content that just makes it harder to find what I want“.

This person also firmly believes that the delivery of government information and services by the more traditional media has declined since the arrival of the web and continues to decline. A few years ago, he told me, you could ring up a government department with a question and it was very likely that either the first or second person you spoke to would be able to provide the answer. In contrast today, he said the standard response from everyone is, “all the information is on our website“.

Recently, this man had to do some building work on his property and rang the relevant government department to see what was required. He was told that as a first step he had to fill in a particular form that was available on the web. He told the person on the phone that he didn’t have a computer and only used the web occasionally so this would be difficult. The department representative didn’t offer to send out the form or take the information over the phone, but advised him to go to the library or an internet café and fill in the form online.

So, he went to the library and eventually found the form on the department website. Part way through the form he was required to provide an email address. This was a mandatory field and it was not possible to complete the form without entering an address. Not to be put off, he used his mobile (cell) phone to contact a friend, who he knew had an email address, and entered that person’s address into the form. But, as he told me, “The government know who I am and where I live so why should I have to have one of those addresses or an electronic identity to fill in one of their forms?

For us who work with the web all the time it is very easy to forget that there are some people who choose not to participate in the online world. And, there are others who for physical, cognitive, geographical or financial reasons don’t even have a choice. As more and more services are delivered online, I think it is imperative that this move to the virtual world does not disenfranchise those who remain offline, those who live only in the real world.

If you are over 60 and would like to participate in this survey please go to the Survey of Mature Age Internet Users on this blog.

I will be talking about this research project into the hows and whys of information technology use by mature-age people in a presentation at CSUN 2011.

Survey Of Mature Age Internet Users

Survey of people over the age of 60 who use the Internet and other Information Technologies

Click here to take survey

The aim of this “Internet and Information Technology Users Survey” is to find out how and why people over the age of 60 use the Internet and to get a better understanding of the problems they encounter when using information technologies.

Roger Hudson and Peter Hindmarsh, baby-boomers themselves, are conducting the survey to find ways of improving the Internet and other information technologies to better meet the needs of older users.

The survey results will be used strictly for research and will not be sold, passed on or used for any other purposes.

The survey contains 18 main questions and 4 optional questions. If you are willing to help, please answer as many questions as you can. Please complete the survey once only.

As a small incentive, we are offering you the opportunity to win one of five $20 Amazon Gift Cards. (This offer is now closed)

Click here to take survey

For more information please contact Roger Hudson by phone: (Australia) 0405 320 014 or e-mail: rhudson@usability.com.au

Update – survey time extended

We initially intended to close the survey at the end of December 2010, however we have now decided to keep the survey open for a few more months. The competition with Amazon Gift cards as prizes however is closed and the winners will be contacted shortly.

Please complete the survey if you haven’t already done so and pass on information about it to other people over the age of 60 who you think might be interested.

Are These PDFs Accessible?

The question of whether or not PDFs are sufficiently accessible to be used on the Web has stimulated much debate over the years. There are some who believe there is no place for PDF on the Web; while on the other hand, some argue that PDF is an essential tool for communicating via the Web.

Please Note: The intention of this article is not to describe how to make an accessible PDF. Rather, I have produced three simple PDF documents with the minimum amount of specific accessibility intervention and I am interested in seeing how easily they can be used by people who use different screen readers and other assistive technologies. Thanks.


We all know that the there are lousy PDFs on the Web and some are going to be downright inaccessible to many assistive technology users. But, there are also some PDFS, which seem pretty good to me and are not likely to cause many accessibility problems.

When it comes to whether or not a particular technology should be used on the web, I tend to support the WCAG 2.0 approach of technological neutrality. I am not particularly concerned about the technology that is used, rather the way it is used. Just because something is a HTML page, a PDF document or a Flash movie doesn’t automatically mean that it is accessible or inaccessible.

Since I have some spare time, I thought I would prepare three simple PDFs and try to get a few people who use different assistive technologies to use them and hopefully provide some feedback about how accessible they are.

The three PDFs are all derived from simple documents about different Australian birds. The documents were prepared using MS Word 2007 and all use the same Word template. Each document has an image with an alt text and a caption. The Gannet and Swamphen PDFs are just as they were when converted to PDF. With the Pelican PDF, I modified the Tag order using Acrobat 9.0.

  • Gannet-word.pdf– produced in Word and converted to PDF using the Word save as PDF option (conversion tool). The Tag for the image (Figure) is at the top of the Tag Tree (i.e. not in the correct place). But the image caption is in the correct position. This PDF contains a simple two column data table.
  • Swamphen-acrobat.pdf – produced in Word and converted to PDF with Acrobat 9.0 Pro. Once again the Tag for the image is not in the correct place in the Tag Tree but the caption is.
  • Pelican-acrob-mod.pdf – produced in Word and converted using Acrobat. The Tag for the image (Figure) was then moved to the correct position using Acrobat. This PDF contains a data table with 3 columns.

I would like to acknowledge the advice I got from the book “Accessible and Usable PDF Documents” by Karen McCall and the help of Andrew Downie and Russ Weakley in preparing the PDFs.

Please tell me what you think

I would very much like to hear what people think about the accessibility of the different PDF documents. In particular, I am interested in finding out how well different screen readers and refreshable Braille machines present the documents.

Disabled Parking Cheats

One thing that really pisses me off is people who misuse disabled parking permits. In my view, able-bodied people who exploit the few meagre, yet essential, benefits available to those with disabilities are cheats who should be prosecuted.

Cars with disabled parking stickers can park in dedicated disabled parking spots and are allowed to park in timed parking zones all day. Without these arrangements, people with disabilities and carers, who have cars, are significantly disadvantaged when it comes to finding parking for everyday things like work, shopping or keeping appointments. My mother was disabled, blind and in a wheel chair, and she had a disabled parking permit. When I drove her to the shops or the doctors we used the disabled parking permit, but still often found it hard to find a parking spot. When I wasn’t driving my mother, the disabled parking permit always stayed in the glove box.

Today, I had a meeting in Sydney’s CBD. At about 9.30am, I walked from the train station to the meeting venue, down a street lined with cars parked in a one hour metered zone. Most of the cars were expensive models and over two third displayed disabled parking permits. I have no doubt some of these cars belonged to people who are entitled to a permit and who were in the city for work or some other reason. But I am equally sure not all!

As I walked along, a new Audi sports car with a disabled parking sticker pulled in and a fit young man in a stylish brown suit bounded out of the car. “Hey mate,” I called out, pointing to his windscreen. “You’ve got a disabled parking sticker.”

“My wife is disabled. I am picking her up,” he replied and started walking away.

I said nothing and was willing to give the Audi driver the benefit of the doubt; maybe he was on his way to pick up a disabled wife, even though none of the major shops were open by then and there are no medical services in the immediate vicinity.

But, then he turned back and snarled at me, “What’s it got to do with you. Haven’t you got anything better to do?”

After this outburst, I revised my opinion. Most people who rely on disabled parking permits are extremely frustrated that the permits are often abused. The attitude of the Audi man was more one of guilt rather than empathy with the problems legitimate users of the permits often encounter.

I walked on, and another car, this time a BMW suburban tractor with a disabled parking sticker cruised past looking for a parking spot. A man in his mid-thirties who looked like a gym junkie was at the wheel. Maybe he was also off to pickup a disabled relative, but some how I don’t think so!

Later, I discussed this issue with a Parking Inspector, who also believed it was likely many disabled parking permits are used inappropriately. He equated this behaviour with that of tax-cheats, but felt that there was really nothing he could do.

Unfortunately, there will always be some people who are only interested in themselves and happy to rip-off anyone. As the saying goes, they’d even rob their own grandmother.

However, as a society I think there are a few things we could do which might help stop this low behaviour:

  1. Provide heavy penalties for the misuse of disabled parking permits, at least $1000 fine and disqualification of drivers licence for a month.
  2. Prosecute doctors who are found to have knowingly facilitated the acquisition of a disabled parking permit by someone who is not entitled to one.
  3. Give Parking Inspectors the power and authority to actively seek out parking permit cheats. For example, if an Inspector sees an obviously able-bodied person get out of a car with a disabled parking permit, they should ask why they are using the permit on that occasion. If the answer is they are going to pick up someone who is disabled, the parking inspector should be allowed to wait there until this person returns to check if this is accurate. If the person is a cheat, a $1000 fine will more than cover the costs of waiting.

Finally, I would like to make it clear that the last thing I would like to see is the removal of disabled parking facilities or permits.

Accessing Nav Drop-Downs

Recently I came across a site that has a less than accessible horizontal main navigation bar with drop-down menus containing links to the different pages in each section. This got me thinking once again about the use of drop-downs from an accessibility perspective.

In particular, I thought it might be useful to consider the different ways drop-down menus are used with the aim of hopefully identifying the best way of providing keyboard and screen reader access to the main navigation and drop-down items.

I sent out a request asking people to suggest drop down menus that I should look at. Many thanks Denis Boudreau, Rick Ellis, Thierry Koblentz, Chris Hoffman and Priti Rohra for their suggestions and advice. I would also like to thank Russ Weakley, Andrew Downie and Grant Focas for suggestions, menu testing and help in preparing this article.

My aim with this article is not to look at the technical side of how drop-downs are prepared; rather I am concerned with the user-experience for people who rely on the keyboard to access the web, with and without a screen reader.

It seems that there are three basic types of navigation systems which use drop-down menus:

  1. Full tab, where the user tabs through the main navigation menu and all the drop-down options for each item.
  2. Tab and arrow, where a combination of tab and arrow keys can be used to move between items in the main navigation menu and the drop-downs
  3. Tab and enter, where the main navigation item is not a link and you can tab from main item to main item. When enter is selected on a main item the drop-down is presented and the tab key or arrow key is used to move between the choices.


The following four examples of different navigation menus with drop-downs can all be accessed with the keyboard and to varying degrees are likely to be accessible to screen reader users. The testing of these sites was done using browsers with JavaScript enabled. (NB: when I refer to using the tab key, this includes shift+tab for moving backwards.)

These examples were tested with the following system configurations: Windows XP and 7 using I.E. 8 and Firefox 3.6; Apple OSX with Safari 5.0 and Firefox 3.6. They were also tested using recent versions of the following screen readers JAWS, Window Eyes and NVDA. With some quirks and subtle differences, the screen readers all appear to behave reasonably consistently. 

1. Full tab

The Museum of East Anglia Life website has a main navigation menu with drop downs that can only be accessed by tabbing.

Screenshot of The Museum of East Anglia Life showing dropdown menu in action

Keyboard only with Windows and Mac: With Win/IE8, Win/Firefox 3.6, Mac/ Safari 5 and Mac/Firefox 3.6, when you tab from one main item to the next, the drop-down menu for the item is presented and it is necessary to tab through all the links it contains in order to move to the next main item. The keyboard arrow keys do not work with either the main navigation or the drop-downs.

Keyboard with Screen reader: With the tab key you move through all the links, similar to above. However if you use the arrow keys, you can just go from main item to main items. It appears that when you use the arrow key to go to a main navigation item and then press the tab key the drop-down menu choices are presented and you can move through the options with either tab or arrow. The presence of sub-items and how to access them is not conveyed to the screen reader user.

2. Tab and arrow example 1

The Mozilla website has main navigation items that can be accessed with the tab key or the arrow keys.

Screenshot of Mozilla website showing dropdown menu in action

Keyboard only with Windows and Mac: With Win/IE8, Win/Firefox 3.6, Mac/ Safari 5 and Mac/Firefox 3.6, you can move between the main navigation items using either the tab key or the left/right arrow keys. When on a main navigation item, pressing the down arrow key opens the drop-down and you can use the up/down arrow keys or the tab key to move through the drop-down choices.

Keyboard with screen reader: With the screen readers it was not possible to use the arrow keys to open and use the drop-down menu. However, pressing enter on each main navigation item took the user to the relevant section landing page. If the screen reader user decides to abandon normal behaviour and try the menu with the Virtual Cursor turned off (insert+z with JAWS), the arrow key will cause the content of the drop down menu to be presented. But with JAWS the items are read out as a continuous list so it is virtually impossible to make a specific choice from a menu.

3. Tab and arrow example 2

This example for Yahoo Developers also allows the user to use the tab or arrow keys to move between main navigation items, however the selection of drop-down menu choices appears to be different.

Screenshot of Yahoo developers website dropdown menu in action

Keyboard only with Windows and Mac: With Win/IE8, Win/Firefox 3.6, Mac/ Safari 5 and Mac/Firefox 3.6, you can tab from main navigation item to main item and when you press the down arrow the drop-down is presented. If you move from main item to main item with the left/right arrow keys each main navigation item is presented with the drop-down open. You use either the tab key or the up/down arrow keys to move through the drop-down options.

Keyboard with screen reader: The screen reader provides no indication to the user that there is a drop-down or how to access it and without any indication many screen reader users a likely to keep pressing the enter key in the hope of something happening. If the “virtual cursor” is turned off, when you press the down arrow key, the menu is reported but as you move down the drop-down items, with JAWS at least, the screen reader also reads content from the page directly after each item. However, if you use the down arrow to open the menu and then tab through the items just the drop-down items are reported. Yahoo “Communication” drop-down menu contains an item, PIM, which can be expanded to present third level items by pressing the right arrow, but again there is no indication that this item can be expanded or how to do it.

4. Tab and enter

With some sites, the main navigation item is not a link and the drop down menu for each item is accessed by pressing the enter key. It should be noted, that in this example from TJK Design, it appears that “Articles: E-K” page is the active page.

Screenshot of tjkdesign keyboard friendly dropdown menu in action

Keyboard only with Windows and Mac: With Win/IE8, Win/Firefox 3.6, Mac/ Safari 5 and Mac/Firefox 3.6, you tab from main navigation item to main item, but the main navigation items are not links to the landing page for each section. When focus is on a main item, pressing the enter key opens the drop-down menu, which can then only be accessed with the tab key. However, when tabbing through the main navigation items, the drop-down menu of the current page is presented when you tab to the main navigation item for that page. You can then use the tab key to move through the drop-down options related to this section.

Keyboard with screen reader: Keyboard access appears to function in the same way as described above, with the screen reader reporting each item as you tab to it and when you tab to the main navigation item for the active page the drop-down opens and you can move through the options, but in this case with either tab key or the arrow keys. For main navigation items relating to pages that are not the active page, pressing enter will open the menu and then you can move through the menu with either the tab or arrow, but tab seems a little easier to use.


After reviewing these menus, I have a far better understanding of why most of the people I know who rely on the keyboard to use the web have a pretty negative impression of drop-downs. Without a mouse, they are difficult to use and it appears that you can not expect them to perform in a consistent fashion.

It is hard to make a definitive statement about which drop-downs are likely to be the most accessible, in part because I think it will depend on the particular circumstances of each site. For example, a site with very few main navigation items and only a few drop-down options is not likely to present a big problem for someone who has to tab through all of them. On the other hand, if the main navigation and drop-downs contains hundreds of links, tabbing through all them could be a serious problem for some people.

From this limited testing, it seems to me that the usability and accessibility of drop-downs for screen reader users and for other people who rely on the keyboard to access the web would be significantly improved if there was a generally agreed (standard) behaviour for drop-downs and information about how to use them without a mouse was available to all users. I think these are the two key issues associated with the use of drop-downs and I would be very interested to know what other people think.

Which is better and why?

  1. Is it better to rely on just the tab key rather than a combination of tab and arrow?
  2. If we do rely just on the tab key, is it better to force keyboard users to tab though all the drop-down options? Or should you allow keyboard users to only tab from main item to main item, for example, and then they make the next level of choices on the section landing pages?
  3. If a combination of tab and arrow keys is the way to go, what is the best approach? And, how many keyboard users would even think of using the arrow keys? Not many I suspect, so what is the best way of informing them?

Ten Common Accessibility Problems

Over the years, I have reviewed the accessibility of a number of sites. This document outlines ten common accessibility issues I have encountered which could result in a site’s failure to fully comply with WCAG 2.0. The document includes links to some of the WCAG 2 advisory Sufficient Techniques provided by the W3C for addressing each issue.

Please note: This is not intended to be a complete list of all possible accessibility problems and the order of the items is of no significance. For full details about WCAG 2.0 go to the “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” W3C Recommendation 11 December 2008.

Page content

  1. Failure to include text alternatives for images
  2. Use of CAPTCHA
  3. Failure to provide adequate alternatives for other inaccessible content
  4. Failure to use HTML header elements appropriately
  5. Failure to explicitly associate form inputs with their labels (or use the input title attribute)
  6. Failure to ensure sufficient difference between foreground (text) colour and background colour
  7. Failure to identify data tables with Summary or Caption
  8. Failure to mark-up data tables correctly
  9. Failure to ensure sites can be used without the mouse
  10. Use of onChange event handlers with select menus

1. Failure to include text alternatives for images

The need to provide equivalent text alternatives for all non-text content is the first accessibility requirement of WCAG 2.
1.1.1 Non-text content: All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose (except for a few specified situations). (Level A)
WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria 1.1.1

In practice, this Success Criterion most often relates to the use of the image alt attribute for images that are necessary to understand and/or use a site and a null or empty alt (alt=””) for images that are used for layout or decorative purposes.

1.1: Selected Sufficient Techniques

A: If short description can serve the same purpose and present the same information:

B: If a short description can not serve the same purpose and present the same information as the non-text content (e.g. a chart or diagram):

  • Provide short text alternatives (e.g. alt attribute) AND one of the following techniques for the long description:
    • Long description for non-text content using longdesc (Technique G92).
    • Long description in text near the non-text content (Technique G74).
    • Long description in another location with a link to it that is immediately adjacent to the non-text content (Technique G73).

1.2: Note on use of CSS background images

CSS background images should not be used for important items like navigation elements or headings since they will not be displayed when a site is accessed with a device that is unable to display images. Use of background images in this way is a recognised WCAG 2 failure.

  • Failure of Success Criterion 1.1.1 due to using CSS to include images that convey important information (Failure F3).

2. Use of CAPTCHA

CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart”.

The most common example of CAPTCHA is distorted images of text used as part of a login or registration process. Since this form of CAPTCHA uses randomly generated images without text alternatives they are inherently inaccessible to screen reader users and other people who are unable to access images on the page.

The need to provide an alternative for CAPTCHA is one of the specific exceptions in Success Criteria 1.1.1
1.1.1 Non-text content: All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose (except for a few specified situations). (Level A)

  • CAPTCHA: If the purpose non-text content is to confirm that content is being accessed by a person rather than a computer, then text alternatives that identify and describe the purpose of the non-text content are provided, and alternative forms of CAPTCHA using output modes for different types of sensory perception are provided to accommodate different disabilities.

2.1: Selected Sufficient Techniques

When non-text content is a CAPTCHA, two things need to be done:

  • Provide a text alternative (e.g. image alt attribute) that describes the purpose of the CAPTCHA (Technique G143).
  • AND

  • Ensure the Web Page contains another CAPTCHA with the same purpose using a different modality (Technique G144). Very often the other modality is audio, but the audio should be discernable and understandable by general web users (i.e. not too distorted).

3. Failure to provide adequate alternative for other inaccessible content

Many websites use proprietary (non-W3C) formats which may not be accessible. PDF and Flash are two commonly used formats that can cause problems for screen reader users.

When PDF and Flash content is prepared well it can be accessible to many assistive technology users, but since some assistive technologies may not be able to access even well made PDF and Flash material it is advisable to provide an accessible HTML alternative.

Web content producers should make PDF and Flash material as accessible as possible because assistive technology support for these formats is improving all the time and it is expected that well made material will be accessible to nearly all assistive technology users in the near future.

At this time, some jurisdictions do not consider PDF and/or Flash to be “accessibility-supported” technologies. For example in Australia, various government authorities stipulate an accessible alternative needs to be provided for PDF material.

There is a lot of advice on the web to help developers make accessible PDF material. A good starting point is the Adobe article “Workflow for creating Accessible PDFs“.

The W3C Techniques document contains a large number of techniques for improving the accessibility of Flash material (Flash Techniques for WCAG 2.0). There are detailed descriptions and examples for each technique.

4. Failure to use HTML Header elements appropriately

The ‘h1’ header element should be used for the main heading(s) of the page. Subsequent headers (h2, h3 etc) should be used to identify and present different sections and sub-sections of the page.
1.3.1 Info and Relationships: Information, structure, and relationships conveyed through presentation can be programmatically determined or are available in text. (Level A)
WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria 1.3.1

The failure to use header elements appropriately reduces the accessibility of sites since it makes it hard for screen reader users to understand the structure of information presented on the page. Appropriate header elements also allow screen reader users to easily navigate to different sections of the page.

4.1: Sufficient Technique

5. Failure to explicitly associate form inputs with their labels (or use the input title attribute)

Screen reader users, and others who are unable to perceive the visual presentation of the information on the page, need to be able to identify the purpose of form inputs (controls).

With most HTML forms, the aim or purpose of each input is identified with a text label that is presented using the HTML “label” element with a “for” attribute that has the same value as the “id” attribute for the associated input. The use of matching attributes enables screen readers to associate the label with the input. Each “id” attribute should be unique.

When it is not possible to provide an explicitly associated label, WCAG 2.0 allows the input title attribute to be used to identify the aim or purpose of the input.

5.1: Sufficient Techniques

  • Using label elements to associate text labels with form controls (Technique H44)
  • Using the title attribute to identify form controls when the label element cannot be used (Technique H65)

6. Failure to ensure sufficient difference between foreground (text) colour and background colour

There are two Success Criteria relating to the colour contrast ratio between foreground (text) and background colours, one at Level AA and the other at Level AAA. And, unlike WCAG 1.0 exceptions are made for differences in text size and the purpose of the text.
1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum): The visual presentation of text and images of text has a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1, except for the following: (Level AA)

  • Large Text: Large-scale text and images of large-scale text have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1;
  • Incidental: Text or images of text that are part of an inactive user interface component, that are pure decoration, that are not visible to anyone, or that are part of a picture that contains significant other visual content, have no contrast requirement.
  • Logotypes: Text that is part of a logo or brand name has no contrast requirement.

(Success Criteria 1.4.5 Contrast (Enhanced), which is at Level AAA, requires a contrast ratio of 7:1 and 4.5:1 for large-scale text)

6.1: Sufficient Techniques for S.C. 1.4.3

A: text is less than 18 point if not bold and less than 14 point if bold

  • Ensuring that a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 exists between text (and images of text) and background behind the text (Technique G18).
  • Not specifying background color, not specifying text color, and not using technology features that change those defaults (Technique G148).
  • Providing a control with a sufficient contrast ratio that allows users to switch to a presentation that uses sufficient contrast (Technique G174).

B: text is as least 18 point if not bold and at least 14 point if bold

  • Ensuring that a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 exists between text (and images of text) and background behind the text (Technique G145).
  • Not specifying background color, not specifying text color, and not using technology features that change those defaults (Technique G148).
  • Providing a control with a sufficient contrast ratio that allows users to switch to a presentation that uses sufficient contrast (Technique G174).

6.2: Note on the use of CSS to provide a background colour

The use of a CSS image to provide background colour for navigation elements or headings can cause problems when the text colour is specified using CSS and no CSS background colour with sufficient contrast is provided for the text.

  • Failure of Success Criterion 1.4.3, 1.4.6 and 1.4.8 due to specifying foreground colours without specifying background colours or vice versa (Failure F24).

7. Failure to identify data tables with Summary or Caption

WCAG 2.0 requires data tables to be presented in a way that allows the tables as a whole to be easily identified by assistive technologies.
1.3.1 Info and Relationships: Information, structure, and relationships conveyed through presentation can be programmatically determined or are available in text. (Level A)
WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria 1.3.1

WCAG 2.0 suggests the “summary” attribute of the table element and/or the “caption” element can be used to identify data tables. The “summary” attribute is probably the more commonly used method. The content of the “summary” attribute is not displayed on the screen however it is read by screen readers. The “caption” element is displayed as the table heading, and is explicitly associated with the content of the table.

7.1 Sufficient Techniques

  • Using caption elements to associate data table captions with data tables (Technique H39).
  • Using the summary attribute of the table element to give an overview of data tables (Technique H73).

8. Failure to mark-up data tables correctly

Unlike WCAG 1.0, no distinction is made between ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ data tables in WCAG 2.0. With all data tables, users need to be able to associate the information presented in each data cell with the relevant row and column headers.

With simple data tables, which have only one level of row and/or column headings, appropriate table markup is all that is required to allow screen reader users to access the information contained in the table. Appropriate markup for simple tables means using the TH element for the row and column headers and the TD element for the data cells.

However, screen readers can only access one level of row and/or column headers that use the TH element. With data tables that have more than one level of row and/or column headers it is necessary to also use the ID and HEADERS attributes and/or the SCOPE attribute.

Wherever possible, simple data tables should be used since they are easier to mark-up and most screen reader users find even well constructed complex data tables with multiple levels of headers, more difficult than simple tables to use.

8.1 Sufficient Techniques

  • Using table markup to present tabular information (Technique H51)
  • Using id and headers attributes to associate data cells with header cells in data tables (Technique H43)
  • Using the scope attribute to associate header cells and data cells in data tables (Technique H63)

9. Failure to ensure sites can be used without the mouse

Not all web users are able to use a mouse so it is important to ensure site pages can also be used with the keyboard. There are two Success Criteria directly related to this issue:
2.1.1 Keyboard: All functionality of the content is operable through a keyboard interface without requiring specific timings for individual keystrokes, except where the underlying function requires input that depends on the path of the user’s movement and not just the endpoints. (Level A)
WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria 2.1.1

2.1.2 No Keyboard Trap: If keyboard focus can be moved to a component of the page using a keyboard interface, then focus can be moved away from that component using only a keyboard interface, and, if it requires more than unmodified arrow or tab keys or other standard exit methods, the user is advised of the method for moving focus away. (Level A)
WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria 2.1.2

9.1 Selected Sufficient Techniques

  • Ensuring keyboard control by using HTML form controls and links (Technique H91).
  • Providing keyboard-triggered event handlers (Technique G90).
  • Ensuring that users are not trapped in content (Technique G21).

10. Use of onChange event handlers with select menus

The use of JavaScript on websites is generally accessible since most assistive technologies can now support appropriately used JavaScript. However not all screen readers support all JavaScript “event handlers”, which trigger certain actions when an event occurs.

For scripts that do more than just change the visual appearance of an element, the W3C advises content developers to use event triggers that are device-independent, since many people with disabilities are unable to use a computer mouse.

Some web pages contain form inputs which present options in a drop-down menu that the user can select from. Those forms that use the “onChange” (device-dependent) event handler to trigger JavaScript functions based on a selection from within a ‘select’ element can present accessibility problems for the users of keyboards and some other input devices.

10.1 Selected Sufficient Techniques

See also:

  • Failure of Success Criterion 3.2.2 due to launching a new window without prior warning when the status of a radio button, check box or select list is changed (Failure F37).

iPhone, iPad and VoiceOver

Several years ago, I looked at the Apple VoiceOver screen reader and found it wanting. Last week, I returned to VoiceOver and, at the risk of further inflaming the hyperbolic passion of the Apple Fan boys/girls, I must say it is amazing how much difference a few years can make.

Last Friday, Russ Weakley and I visited an old friend, David Woodbridge in Gosford, an hour’s drive north of Sydney on the freeway through sheeting rain. David is a senior consultant for Vision Australia and spends part of his time testing and evaluating adaptive technologies. Formally a dedicated JAWS user, David is now an Apple VoiceOver evangelist. Russ and I were keen to see how David uses VoiceOver with his Macbook Pro and make a video of him using it with the iPhone and iPad.

In the past, many people in the blind community and accessibility advocates, myself included, generally felt that VoiceOver did not have the necessary features to be considered a viable alternative for established screen readers like JAWS and Window Eyes. Today, it appears that VoiceOver is an effective and easy to use screen reader, although it seems that it may take people who are used to the more commonly used screen readers a little time to get use to.

I feel VoiceOver, which is built into the Apple operating system, and NVDA, a Windows screen reader that is available at no cost, now provide screen reader users with real alternatives. And in the process, they will hopefully put pressure on the manufacturers of other, relatively expensive, screen readers to lift their game.

In making the following video, many thanks to David for his knowledge, time and patience, and to Russ for operating the second camera, which provided the essential close-up shots of the devices.

The video is captioned in English and open for translation into other languages if you so wish. A transcript of the video is provided after the video player.

Video Transcript

MAIN TITLE: iPHONE, iPAD and Apple VoiceOver

DAVID: Hi my name is David Woodbridge and I am the senior adaptive technology consultant at Vision Australia. I’m part of the equipment solutions team and my job is to do the adaptive technology help desk. I’m one of the people that do that, and also research and evaluate products, including Apple products. And, one of the exciting things last year was the iPhone 3GS because it actually has all the universal access options built into it. So basically you’ve got a screen reader which is the VoiceOver program on the Mac, it’s now on the iPhone. You’ve go Zoom, the large print software and you’ve got Black on White.

A really cool thing about VoiceOver, especially on iPhone,particularly for sighted people that want to help blind or low vision people out is that under Settings, General Accessibility. What you can actually do is associate the Home button with turning VoiceOver,in my case, on or off. So, if just press my Home button three times [PRESSES HOME BUTTON ON iPHONE THREE TIMES].

iPHONE: VoiceOver off.

DAVID: Now my iPhone is a perfectly standard iPhone so if I need sighted assistance for something they can do it with standard gestures. And then, one, two, three [PRESSES HOME BUTTON]

iPHONE: VoiceOver on.

DAVID: And I’ve got myself an accessible iPhone again. And, basically what happens with VoiceOver, is when you touch the screen [MOVES FINGER ACROSS iPHONE SCREEN]

iPHONE: Clock, maps, photos, calendar …

DAVID: It actually reads out what’s happening. Now some people say, well look that’s okay because you are used to it, but how do you know where things are? What you can actually do with VoiceOver is you can actually do a left finger flick to the left or a right finger flick to the right [FLICKS FINGERS LEFT AND RIGHT ACROSS THE SURFACE OF THE SCREEN].


DAVID: And you can move item by item so you’ve got total control over where you are. Now the other really good thing about the screen as far as the screen reader is concerned is that if I take my finger to the top of the iPhone and bring it down slightly [MOVES FINGER DOWN ONTO THE TOP OF THE PHONE SCREEN]

iPHONE: Twelve forty one p.m.

DAVID: I’m now on my status line so I can read all the information about the status of what the phone is doing. So if I flick to the left [LEFT FINGER FLICK]

iPHONE: 67% WiFi, signal. Optus network two bars …

DAVID: Two bars [FLICKS TO RIGHT] and to the right …

iPHONE: Status, 31% battery power.

DAVID: 31% battery power. And I can now just take my finger down to the rest of the screen and I’m back on the main iPhone screen itself. Down the bottom, where you’ve got all your apps that you like to access all the time.

iPHONE: Phone

DAVID: I normally use my home button as an orientation point, so I come down here, go to the left, go up a little bit. [SLIDES FINGER TO BOTTOM AND UP A LITTLE]

iPHONE: Phone

DAVID: So I’ve got Phone to make phone calls [FLICKS RIGHT AND LEFT]

iPHONE: Phone, mail – 95 new items.

DAVID: Mail with 95 new items. Flick to the right again …

iPHONE: safari

DAVID: Safari

iPHONE: ipod

DAVID: and the ipod. But, with the release recently of the ipad the accessibility for the VoiceOver application, in my case, has actually got even more spectacular. And, I’ll just mention one particular feature which really gets me excited. At the moment, if I say bring up my Spotlight search for the iPhone … [iPHONE voice] and I touch my qwerty keyboard [PRESSES KEYBOARD LETTER]


DAVID: Ok so I am finding my letters [MOVES FINGER ACROSS KEYBOARD]


DAVID: Now, to put a letter in I normally have to double tap with one finger to put the letter in. So it’s almost a three sequence: Find the letter,


DAVID: Double tap with one finger


DAVID: it puts it in the search. What they’ve actually done with the iPad … [PUTS DOWN iPHONE, MOVES HAND TO iPAD] is if I bring up my search [TURNS iPAD ON]

iPAD: Search iPad, search field …

DAVID: And I touch my keyboard

iPAD: Auto-cap keyboard, capital

DAVID: First thing it says is keyboard so I know I am on the keyboard, second thing it says is, if, I hold my finger down on the screen long enough, it says the phonetic of the character, so …[HOLDS FINGER STILL ON KEYPAD]

iPAD: Capital F, foxtrot.


iPAD: Capital T, tango

DAVID: And so on. But the really cool thing is when I find the letter I want [MOVES FINGER ACROSS KEYPAD]


DAVID: Take it off, take my fingers off the screen and it puts the character in straight away. So your accessibility has just increased phenomenally because I’m not having to find the character,double tap it, I just find the character take my finger off and hey presto its going.[PRESSES HOME BUTTON] To come back to the main home screen with the home button. And again I’ve got the same thing that I can do with the iPhone. [PRESSES HOME BUTTON THREE TIMES] I can do one, two, three.

iPAD: VoiceOver off.

DAVID: VoiceOver off. Use it normally. Back on again, one, two three.[PRESSES HOME BUTTON]

iPAD: Voiceover on.

DAVID: And we have got the status line. And what Apple have done this time with the status window is, if I come down from the top [SLIDES FINGER DOWN SCREEN]

iPAD: BEEP SOUND FX, contacts, BEEP, 12.44 p.m.

DAVID: It gives me a bleep when I hit the status area and [MOVES FINGERS DOWN SCREEN] and I can do the same thing, flick left and right [FLICKS FINGERS OVER SCREEN]

iPAD: 39% battery …

DAVID: And if I come down to the dock. I drag my finger down to the dock. [SLIDES FINGER DOWN SCREEN]

iPAD: BEEP, BEEP, dock. Mail forty new items.

DAVID: It gives a double beep, plus it actually says dock. Another really exciting feature of VoiceOver on the iPad is when I am using the iPhone [PICKS UP iPHONE] and I flip it [ROTATES PHONE IN HIS HANDS] to landscape or its upside down VoiceOver actually doesn’t tell me that I am actually moving it. But what the iPad does [PUTS PHONE DOWN NEXT TO iPAD] is that, I’ve currently got this in landscape mode [PUTS HANDS ON iPAD] and at the moment I physically know where my Home button is because I can feel it on the left hand side of the screen. [PICKS UP iPAD] But if I actually rotate my iPAD [ROTATES iPAD BY 90 DEGREES]

iPAD: Portrait

DAVID: OK, so I am now in portrait mode and I know from experience my Home button is always on the bottom. But, if I now flip it to the left …[ROTATES iPAD BY 90 DEGREES]

iPAD: Landscape, Home button to the right.

DAVID: It tells me Home button’s now to the right, so I know exactly where my Home button is and I can go straight to it without any problems at all. If I do a flick to upside down [ROTATES iPAD]

iPAD: Portrait flipped.

DAVID: Portrait flipped, and again I know my Home button is exactly at the top of the screen up here. And if we do another flick [ROTATES THROUGH 90 DEGEES RETURNING TO ORIGINAL LANDSCAPE VIEW]

iPAD: Landscape, home button to the left.

DAVID: Home button to the left and I can put my finger right on it. And just one finally thing I want to show people, because this is the thing that always gets people confused. They say, look I’m pressing the [BEEP SOUNDS] volume up button, and I’m pressing the volume down button, [BEEP SOUNDS] but when I actually go back to my speech [FLICKS ACROSS SCREEN WITH FINGERS]

iPAD: Help, contact, notes …

DAVID: It’s the same volume. So the trick is … [PUTS iPAD ON TABLE] You actually start the screen reader reading and then the volume up and volume down button actually then controls the screen reader voice. So if I do a two finger flick down the screen to start it reading.



iPAD: Settings, photos, page one of two …

DAVID: Volume’s going down, and back up again [VOLUME INCREASES] And I can do a two finger touch on the screen to stop it talking. So that’s basically VoiceOver on the iPad [PUTS iPAD DOWN ON TABLE]

DAVID: When I’m actually doing web browsing. [MOVES FINGER ALONG DOCK SECTION]

iPAD: Safari – SOUND FX

DAVID: Just quickly …

iPAD: Safari, Apple

DAVID: The way that gestures work on the iPhone and the iPad, besides basically moving your fingers around the screen, one finger, double tapping, there’s actually a system called the Web Rotor. [FINGERS OVER iPAD SCREEN] If I do a two finger rotate … [TWIST/ROTATE TWO FINGERS ON SCREEN]

iPAD: Links

DAVID: I can rotate between different elements on the screen. So, I can do links … [ROTATE FINGERS]

iPAD: Form controls

DAVID: Form controls …. [ROTATE FINGERS]

iPAD: Visited links.

DAVID: And then when I want to move on one of those elements, so let’s go back to links. [ROTATES FINGERS]

iPAD: Form controls, [ROTATE] Links

DAVID: When I flick up and down with one finger [FINGER FLICKS OVER SCREEN]

iPAD: Apple, Store, Mac, iPod ….

DAVID: I’m actually moving up and down the following. And of course, when I get to the one I want to get to, I can double tap. Now the similar gestures for the iPhone and the iPad are exactly the same commands that I would be using with VoiceOver on the multi-touch trackpad on a Macbook Pro. So, once you’ve got a Macbook, an iPhone or and iPad you know how to use the gestures in the whole three systems.

DAVID: [C.U. iPHONE] Okay to finish off, I think I might make a phone call because the iPhone does actually have the ability to make phone calls. So, I am going to go to my phone app. [PRESSES SCREEN – SOUND FX] I’m going to find my keyboard …

iPHONE: Contacts, keypad, keypad, selected.

DAVID: And to speed things up I going to use one finger to find the number, and while my finger is on the screen I’m going to use my second finger to complete the double tap sequence. [ONE FINGER MOVES OVER SCREEN TO LOCATE NUMBER. OTHER FINGER TAPS TOP OF SCREEN]

iPHONE: Nine, nine, three, three, three, [iPHONE FINGER MOVES AND TAPS] four, four, three, three, three, three.

DAVID: And, if I zip down the bottom of the screen.

iPHONE: Seven, star, zero.

DAVID: Find zero, come right down.

iPHONE: Call button.

DAVID: And, if I did a double tap now I would actually make a phone call to Vision Australia.