There is no doubt that the internet has been an absolutely brilliant opening to the availability of accessible information; a fact that has expanded choice and opportunities. However, it can, as most of us will know, be an absolutely
My frustrations were deepened over the weekend when I wanted to book some train tickets online. This has been great in the past as the site i've used as been a very friendly place for screen reader users; acting as a go to place where the holiday does really start with the ease of booking tickets. However, goodness knows who 'the trainline' have got in to give their web presence a MakeOver but the visual design, I believe, has given us screen reader users a right buffering. From the ease of selecting a journey, it is now frustratingly hard because drop down lists do not well drop down, destinations selected do not correspond with anything logical in the list of UK train stations (in fact they wouldn't make sense anywhere) and the layout of results are akin to chucking a scrabble board up in the air (with all the letter tiles in place) and then being asked to make sense of the carnage.
To be fair to the trainline, their representative was very open to comments and has passed on my feedback to their web and app designers. He did ask for a screenshot of what I was finding, but this wasn't going to be a case of seeing is believing, but one of explanation and
listening. He has taken the feeback on board and is hopefully doing something about it.
It does demonstrate though about how far we've come in terms of relying so much on the internet. Using a screen reader on many websites enables so much choice and gives an ability to do things that at one stage we could only dream of. When designs are changed, it's not always in the forethought of designers to ensure that a screen reader can go along with these. After all, to attract business, organisations need to do unique visual things with their web presence to attract custtom. However, Accessibility and more importantly useability can sit very nicely alongside this approach; if only a bit more awareness and understanding were applied. The odd tweek on a website can turn what was an accessible gateway to a holiday into a nightmare trip to nowhere.