Wednesday, 6 January 2021

TDD, Text Descriptions and Accessibility

There have been seismic shifts in the yarn community over the last six months which have opened my eyes to some of the obstacles faced by many of you out there in internet land. Discussions of these obstacles have inspired us to do better and we want to play our part in making the yarn community more inclusive. If you want to tablet weave, we want to help you to do it! As such, James and I are committed to making Tablet Weaving Draft Designer more accessible to our visually impaired users. 

Our first step has been to add a Text Description tool in the Display section of the control panel, so that the draft can be rendered in a non-pictorial way. The interface for making the draft still requires the user to click on squares in a grid, which isn't compatible with software like screen-readers, so we're working on a way to create drafts using a keyboard instead. If you use a screen reader or other assistive technology, or know someone who does, and are interested in helping with some beta testing when the time comes, we would love to hear from you.

I know that some users prefer a text based sequence of turning instructions, so the new Text Description tool will hopefully be of use to them too. The original version of TDD, all the way back in 2015, was tailored to my specific needs and the way that I think about tablet weaving and draft my patterns. I'm dyslexic and find walls of text difficult to work with, so we started with a basic pictorial draft and worked from there. Over the years we've been adding extra features to make TDD work better for a wider range of people (the ability to change the saturation of the backwards turn squares or to mark turning direction changes in red, for example) and making it more accessible is a continuation of that.

Over the next few weeks, I will be going through every post on this blog to add text versions to go with each pictorial draft and adding alt text to any images that don't already have them. I will also be adding a TDD draft download link to go with every draft page.

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