New properties for StatusNotifierItem: Accessible Label (1/3)

Sebastian Kügler sebas at
Thu Feb 3 16:24:26 CET 2011


On Thursday, February 03, 2011 15:29:38 Ted Gould wrote:
> On Thu, 2011-02-03 at 14:37 +0100, Marco Martin wrote:
> > On Thursday 03 February 2011, Ted Gould wrote:
> > > One of the projects we're doing is to try and make Unity more
> > > accessible.  To that end we'd like to add properties to add accessible
> > > labels for the icons that could be given to screen readers.  We're
> > > planning on issuing warnings if an icon is set without an accessible
> > > label, it would be great if the KDE object could do the same.  Here are
> > > the properties that we're thinking about: IconAccessibleLabel and
> > > AttentionAccessibleLabel.  They should be strings describing the
> > > icons/movies, localized and change with the icon.  An example would be
> > > "Battery 45%".
> > > 
> > > 		--Ted
> > > 
> > > PS - I don't think that OverlayAccessibleLabel makes sense, but I'd
> > > love to hear people's comments on that.
> > 
> > This is a really good idea, let's analyze it.
> > 
> > Basically, what the normal icon, the attention icon and the overlay
> > indicate is a status, someting descriptive about what's going on (let's
> > say battery 45%)
> > 
> > now, we have a text representation, and that is what's written in the
> > tooltip. this may or may not be enough for a screenreader to represent
> > it textually...
> Yeah, in talking to the a11y folks they like tooltips, but they really
> wanted another label as sometimes the tooltips don't describe the icon
> enough for a blind user to know what it means.  Apparently screen
> readers can distinguish and make tooltips additional information as
> well.  Also, sometimes tooltips can be too complex for screen readers to
> do a good job with them.

On the other hand, it requires application developers to add another string in 
their code to all UI elements -- something which might be easily forgotten by 
those that don't care a lot about a11y (I fear that this applies to a lot of 
developers). Falling back to the tooltip sounds like something sensible for 
those cases.

In any case, we should clearly document why it makes sense (justifies the 
extra work for developers and translators), so people actually do it. 
Additionally, some guidelines how to make those accessible labels useful, i.e. 
not just repeat the tooltip, but making it convey the needed information in a 
form suitable for screen readers.

The overhead of such a thing is non-trivial, but I can't really judge the 
importance to a11y, so the above are just some thoughts about this proposed 

sebas | | GPG Key ID: 9119 0EF9
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