Tag Archives: accessibility

Forcing windows open

Here’s a question?

When you design a website with external links, add links to your VLE, do you force the link to open in a new window or in the same browser window?

For me forcing new browser windows open on the user is both poor practice and annoying for the end user.

Rather than do that use the following text next to any link.

To open link in a new window right or ctrl click and click Open in a New Window

Forcing new windows breaks all web usability guidelines and creates problems for users and importantly affects accessibility issues. International user accessibility guidelines recommend against the “new
window” approach.

When a new window opens in front of the old one a novice user is likely to think that the “back” button associated with the new window will take them back where they were before, and doesn’t know what to do when it won’t, this can be just as annoying as closing the whole window.

Confident users can cope with the forced new window, new users can not.

Similarly a disabled learner, using a head pointer or other assistance device, won’t be able to simply click on the back button to return if the code has forced a new window to open.

This could be a significant problem for many learners suffering from quadraplegia, other disabilities or visually impaired learners.

Also Firefox has an option which actually stops new windows from happening.

Forcing windows open

Other sources on why you should never force new windows on users.

Check point #2 on Jakob Nielsen’s usability website.

Opening up new browser windows is like a vacuum cleaner sales person who starts a visit by emptying an ash tray on the customer’s carpet. Don’t pollute my screen with any more windows, thanks  particularly since current operating systems have miserable window management). If I want a new window, I will open it myself!

Designers open new browser windows on the theory that it keeps users on their site. But even disregarding the user-hostile message implied in taking over the user’s machine, the strategy is self-defeating since it disables the Back button which is the normal way users return to previous sites. Users often don’t notice that a new window has opened, especially if they are using a small monitor where the windows are maximized to fill up the screen. So a user who tries to return to the
origin will be confused by a grayed out Back button.

Another view from Sitepoint.

Here are the top 5 reasons why you should beware of opening links in a new window:

Unless you warn them, Web users are likely to expect the new page to load in the current window. Unexpected surprises can be fun, but not when you’re browsing the Web.

The act of opening a new browser window resets the back button in that window. The back button is the second most used navigation function (after hyperlinks, source: useit.com), so resetting it is a big no-no.

To open a new browser window can disorient very novice Web users and the visually impaired. They might not realise that a new window has opened and might struggle to switch between windows.

Opening a new browser window disrespects the desires of your users. If they want a new window, they’ll ask for one. Don’t force a new window upon users unless there’s a very good reason to do so.

New browser windows can make an already cluttered taskbar even more difficult to use. We’ve all spent ages hunting through the taskbar in search of the window we want. Don’t make this process even harder by increasing the number of windows the user has open.

Do you have a view?

“you feel that all digital resources must be universally accessible to everyone”

Do you have staff in your institution who feel that

“all digital resources must be universally accessible to everyone”

or are they a little more enlightened?

A podcast is perfectly accessible to a visually impaired learner and completely pointless for a hearing impaired learner.

Accessibility only exists at the point of delivery. There can not be a universal accessibly digital resource, can there?

Digital resources by their very nature are often more accessible than a non-digital resource. An e-book can be read out to a visually impaired learner, whilst a real book can also be read out, but this for most books requires a real person to do it, which at 2am can often be difficult for some learners to find when they have an essay deadline!

Brian Kelly on his excellent UK Web Focus Blog has a great post on how one disabled learner is using Second Life and how it is improving access for her.

Well worth a read. “you feel that all digital resources must be universally accessible to everyone”

“Million more UK homes go online”

According to recent figures as reported by the BBC, a million more UK homes have now gone online.

The number of UK homes with internet access has gone up by nearly a million over the last year, figures suggest.

Some 15.2m UK households – 61% of homes – now have an internet connection, compared with 54% in 2006, research from National Statistics found.

In total, 84% of web-enabled households said they had a broadband connection, up from 69% in May 2006.

61% of homes now have an internet connection and those 84% have a broadband connection.

For those learners coming from homes without internet, what can they do? Well yes it would be nice if every learner had a broadband internet connection, but it would also be nice if every learner had free transport to college, it would be nice if every learner had all the core texts they needed, it would be nice if every learner didn’t need a part-time job to support their studies, etc…

Colleges don’t provide libraries or teachers at home, so even though a learner may not have access to the internet, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use the internet and web based services (like a VLE) to support and enhance learning.

For those learners who don’t have access to broadband internet, they do have options in terms of access to the internet. Some have mobile phones or other mobiles devices which could be used. Some will be able to access free internet from their local library. Some will be able to access the internet at a relative or a friend. Virtually all will be able to access the internet at college.

Creating Accessible Presentations

TechDis have published the third of their accessibility essentials guides. This third guide can tell you all you need to know about creating accessible presentations in PowerPoint.

As multimedia presentations are increasingly favoured as a means of delivering lectures, the importance of making them accessible to all learners becomes crucial. Software such as PowerPoint can present barriers to some learners, but it can also support others, and this Guide to Creating Accessible Presentations can show you how.

It has four sections:

  • Using Microsoft PowerPoint Accessibly within Teaching and Learning
  • Implementing Inclusive Practice
  • Delivering Presentations Inclusively
  • Good Practice in Providing Alternative Outputs to Support Accessibility

The guide also looks at the importance of making PowerPoint components accessible for others to re-use.

Check out the guide.