CiviCRM and Screen Readers
We are currently working with an organisation that has a staff member that accesses their machine using a screen reader only (he uses Jaws). He has been working hard to see which core bits of CiviCRM (4.1.x on Drupal 7) he can access and has fantastically been working with us to feedback. In some instances we have been able to hardcode in menu links etc to increase his level of access.
This is real feedback from a user with genuine access requirements. Hopefully his experiences can lead to core code changes which will increase the accessibility of the system in the longer term for other users. We are also looking for ways in which we can increase his access levels in the short term. Please comment if you have any thoughts on core code changes that would make a difference, if you would like to get involved or if you know of users that have had similar experiences.
Generally he can navigate round a contacts summary screen, edit users, search via the basic Find Contacts screen, search for Activities and add basic Activities. There are some basic elements of the system which are inaccessible as detailed below;
- Contact Tabs; he cannot access a Contacts Tabs such as Activities, Relationships - he can access the summary screen only. He is using workarounds, like an activity search on the full contacts name, to find their activities.
- Lookups (including the LHS quick lookup) - He can type directly into these if he exactly knows someone's full name already. As he types the list of found contacts is not read to him. This affects his use when adding Activities, Shared Addresses etc. I understand this may be impossible to get around due to the way the lookup contact lists are generated.
- Collapsed Field Set Headers; these are invisible to the Jaws screen reader. As a workaround on the contact summary page we are forcing all custom fields to be open by default and on the contact edit page he is using Expand All tabs to access the field sets. He cannot however access any of the closed field sets on the Advanced Search screen. Would it be possible to add an Expand All Tabs function to the Advanced Search screen?
- Edit Page issue; on the edit page all the fields describe themselves to him as he tabs down except for the 'On Hold' and 'Bulk Mailings' check boxes.
- The on screen CiviCRM menus are invisible to the screen reader; as mentioned above we have added a hard coded extra menu which replicates the top Civi menu.
I hope the feedback is useful and we are sure that the staff member would be happy to further feedback on any future changes that were made to core.
Oliver Gibson, IT Enterprise Manager GMCVO