Happy New Year to all our readers!
We are proud to be able to celebrate the New Year by announcing that Webby Books are now fully accessible and WAI-ARIA compliant. This means that Webby Books are now compatible with screen readers and other assistive technologies.
From the beginning, Webby Books have been designed to be much easier to read than most other e-books or websites. The default fonts and font sizes used in Webby Books were specially chosen for their readability.
We have also always offered the facility for dyslexic users to use instead a special font designed specifically to cater for their needs.
In addition, the color scheme used by Webby Books was chosen partly because it has proven to be useful in helping readers with dyslexia. It also has the benefit for all readers of reducing glare from the screen. This makes it possible to read a Webby Book for long periods without eyestrain or headaches.
We have now, however, been able to add several new options to cater for those with various forms of visual disability including color-blindness.
Readers can now choose, for example, to use a grayscale palette, thus eliminating any issues arising from the need to distinguish different colors. Alternatively — or in addition — readers can opt for a high contrast color scheme which utilizes a dark background.
Another new option for Webby Book readers is the ability to increase or decrease the font size.
While it has always been possible to zoom in or out of a Webby Book page, just as on any other web page, such zooming often has the unfortunate side-effect of compromising the page’s structure. The new ability to adjust the font size leaves the page structure intact, and so the reader now can have the best of both worlds: a well-structured page with a font size optimal for him or her.
The facilities to change the color scheme and the font size can be used on their own or in combination. They also persist throughout the Webby Book, so that there is no need to reset each one for each page.
Webby Books are now fully accessible to those using screen-readers. The Webby Book templates have been completely re-built to ensure that all the appropriate information about what is on screen is conveyed to screen-readers, while irritating and unnecessary repetitions have been eliminated.
The spacebar and the arrows, Enter, and Escape keys now function in accordance with the WAI-ARIA guidelines, so that full use can be made of the FAQs, the table of contents, the glossary, the comments feature, the discussion forum, and the quizzes without the reader getting lost.
Users who prefer to use keyboard controls, rather than a mouse, will also now find that the tabbing function has been refined to work in a more logical way.
This means that, whether a reader is sighted or using screen-reading technology, he or she should always know precisely where s/he is on a page and within the Webby Book more generally.
In addition, visual clues as to where the cursor currently is have been significantly enhanced so as to leave little room for confusion.
As this raft of enhancements demonstrates, we are always looking for ways to improve Webby Books. We have a new title planned for publication in 2017, and are pleased that we have been able to make these changes in good time to be able to implement them for the new book.
If readers have any further suggestions on how we might improve Webby Books, we are always interested in receiving them. Just use the contact form to get in touch.
Happy New Year!