Friday, 12 December 2014

Access All Areas: Online Too

International Access Symbol (white wheelchair symbol on a blue background) created with crochet by Jodiebodie using a freeform technique to create the shapes and finished with a white crab stitch border.
International Access Symbol
crocheted by Jodie
I am on a quest to improve the accessibility of my blog for people with disabilities.

If you visit Lupey Loops and have any access issues at all, please let me know!

You can email me at which is also available through my Blogger profile. There is a link on the right hand side of the screen where it says "View my complete profile".

Comments are always welcome too and I have removed the 'Captcha' service which was a barrier to leaving comments (against good advice about blog security).  I must admit I don't like the Captcha myself as I find its graphics hard to decipher even without a vision impairment. I didn't realise it had been activated on Lupey Loops but it is now switched OFF. So there. (Bring on the robots [said defiantly]).

If the spam begins, then I will have to switch comment screening back ON but in the meantime I will be searching for a similar service that is compatible with text-to-speech screen reading software to replace Captcha. Any suggestions?

Many of the comment screening programs that are supposed to protect blogs from robot spam are totally unsuitable for people with vision impairments, and especially so for people who rely on text reading and screen reading software.  

I am not an expert in this area so if you have any feedback to give as to the kinds of screen reading software that you use, how it works and, importantly, situations in which it doesn't work, please tell me!  I would love to hear and learn about it from first hand users.

I have learned that screen readers do not cope with graphic information such as photographs, infographics and memes.   It is recommended that these items be accompanied by a description so that everyone can know the content.  

One friend described the situation like this:  If friends are all chatting and enjoying a particular meme that I cannot read, I imagine it would be the same as "listening to people raving about a top restaurant with a flight of stairs and no lift" (and therefore no wheelchair access).

I know that feeling. It is a feeling of being left out, not having one's needs acknowledged or respected; that feeling that harps back to the schoolyard when everyone else is discussing a TV program or event that they all went to, but one didn't and therefore cannot join in the conversation; that feeling of exclusion. Feelings of 'you don't belong here' or 'we don't care to include you'. That's not a nice feeling as we are social creatures, biologically programmed with a primal need to belong.

In light of this, I am making an effort to provide descriptions where necessary to make it easier for my friends with vision impairments, starting with the posts labelled 'access'.  I have ensured all of the photographs have descriptive captions that support the text, but regular readers will know that I always try to elaborate in the main text anyway.

I've been advised by a 'techie' friend that most images on the web should have a description tag as standard. The description tag is designed to replace the image so that text-to-speech software can describe the photograph. Technically it is required by law but not many people observe it! No wonder my vision impaired friends are so frustrated. 

Certainly, I know nothing of description tags except for that above which I just found out!  So many people and organisations are publishing on the internet, both professional and amateur, which is a beautiful thing but the flipside is lack of standards or adherence to them. In my case, it is a lack of education on the technicalities of these things. I am trying to learn as I go and I trust that you hold me in good faith that I am doing my best.

I haven't worried too much about the type size because that can be enlarged on the computer screen to whatever size the reader likes.  I hope that the type in my posts is able to be read easily by screen readers.

When it comes to comments and chats, the automatic emoticons are usually impossible to decipher. I believe the punctuation symbols themselves are okay but some people prefer to use full words just to be on the safe side; e.g. [smiles].  I discovered that if I add a 'space' character to my smileys, it will prevent the punctuation from converting to an auto-emoticon; e.g. :- )  instead of :-) but for ease of comprehension, full words must be better, surely. 

I am advised that there should be a button in the blog software that can disable the smileys, I am yet to find it and I use smileys frequently in comments.  Do you want me to disable smileys?  I am not sure of how many Lupey Loops readers find smileys a nuisance. Please let me know if you do and meanwhile I will try to curb my usage of them.

My blog is mainly about crochet. One could assume that good eyesight is necessary to be able to crochet so why bother adapting my blog?  Wrong!  I know that there are people who can knit and crochet with very little vision, so it is important that they can read and participate on Lupey Loops too. 

You may make assumptions about your audience and feel like these ideas do not apply to your blog or web site but if you want to have the best chance of getting your message 'out there', wouldn't it be best to make it accessible to the widest possible audience? That includes people with disabilities.

Ultimately, one tailors communication to the intended audience.  If you don't care for having a disability-friendly web site or blog, that is up to you, your prerogative, but I can tell you, you would be missing out on a significant sector of society which has valuable insights to contribute.

Further Reading

Buchanan, Ricky, "A Guide to Better Access", online article, 9 October 2013, ABC Ramp Up, Australian Broadcasting Corporation:


  1. I have nominated you for a Peace and Harmony Award. I enjoy your blog so much and hope you will accept this award.

    1. Thank you very much Mary-Anne for the honour!
      It pleases me that you enjoy Lupey Loops and share your thoughts so that I can get to know you too and learn new things. If this blog inspires someone to pick up a crochet hook or do something creative; or if it helps impove someone's wellbeing, then I am satisfied that it is worthwhile. Your award nomination is a bonus. It is so nice to know that Lupey Loops is helpful to others. Thank you. [blush blush]

  2. I know a woman who is almost blind and suffering from Alzheimer's disease but she is able to knit squares that are then joined to make blankets for people in India who have leprosy. Keep up the good work with your blog.

    1. Thank you Gillian for your kind words of support.
      It is good to share real-world examples of people who are still knitting and crocheting despite their challenges. It is especially important to consider their needs because illness and disability can be extremely isolating. It can be very hurtful when something that has the potential to be so liberating, like the internet, is full of unnecessary barriers, thus excluding those people (who might otherwise be very active online) and perpetuating social isolation. There is a lot to gain from a diverse and truly inclusive society.