Thursday, March 9, 2017

Accessibility sprint - part 2: Creating a mobile-friendly and accessible Infobox for maps

This is the second part of a series of blog posts about a coding sprint that happened the day before CSUN 17. The sprint was about creating interactive online learning that is usable for people with disabilities. This whole software area is called accessibility, and known as inclusive design.

The first post gives an overview of the coding sprint. Each of these subsequent posts describes the work of one team.

Creating a mobile-friendly and accessible Infobox for maps

Team Goal

Create a widget for helping people who are blind or have low vision explore maps that display statistical information (think popular vote winners in the US). This type of map is called a choropleth.

The existing infobox widget takes statistical data in a simple format and works with hot spots on an svg map to bring up an info box as a user mouses over or tabs to different regions on the map. The current version, however, isn't accessible for low vision, doesn't work well with screen readers, and doesn't work on mobile. The team worked on improving these aspects of the widget (which can be reused for any statistical map).

Map of the 2016 US presidential election popular vote results by state, with blue, red, pink and light blue colors for each state. An info box is open for New Mexico with the winner and actual vote totals.
United States 2016 presidential race: Popular vote by state. 

Demo at the end of the day

Doug Schepers demonstrated the improvements. The demo showed the map tool improved for low vision and screen reader access. For low vision, the state selection outline was thickened, the info box contrast was increased and made resizable, the info box placement was adjusted to make sure the selected state was not covered. The ability to select the next state via tabbing on the states was added. Selection is currently in alphabetical order, and a better system would work on the navigation also. He also demonstrated using a screen reader and being able to select a state and hear it read the info box for each state. It uses ARIA Live Regions to update things. The statistical data is formatted using simple name, value pairs.

The ultimate goal is to define a simple standard for describing statistical map data and provide an open-source, reusable, accessible widget for interacting with these maps.

Doug Schepers and Derek Riemer worked together.

The code is available here:

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