Additional Accessibility Concerns for the Reader when Accessing with Screen Reader

I just purchased the first book of Age of Ashes, since I am currently running it and I thought I’d give running this from the Pathfinder Nexus reader a shot. What I am finding at the moment is it seems like the hyperlinks within the text don’t always work with my assistive technology, or at least, not that I can see. I can use the links to download the GM and Player versions of maps, but the links that bring up stat blocks don’t currently work at all with my screen reader. In testing with a friend with vision he reported to me that hovering over the link brings up a statblock and clicking it has other results, but currently it’s like the screen reader just can’t do anything with it. In watching a Gencon interview Adam did with Joe from Glass Cannon, I understand you are actually testing this web site with screen readers. I would very much like to know what screen reader and web browser combination you are using for testing so I can give it a try with my own set-up, and if you have had better luck getting these links to work in your tests I would like to know what you did to make them work. In case you’re not already using it, there’s a free screen reader at nvaccess.org called NVDA and it’s currently the best one out there for Windows users. I recommend testing your site using that software with Chrome and Firefox. If you are using the built-in Narrator screen reader in Windows, I can say with relative certainty that you should be testing with the one I mentioned above instead. Narrator has gotten better in recent years but is still not remotely on par with the third party options out there. If you test for mobile accessibility I recommend enabling the VoiceOver setting on an iPhone, which is the most common accessibility solution used by blind people.
Sorry for rambling. Anyway my second thing is more of a suggestion. It would be really great if there were more links that let you download images, or if the images were labeled for accessibility so they could be copied. I am a totally blind GM, and I offer my sighted players very few visual aids. I would love to be able to present them with pictures of the monsters, NPCs and other things they encounter in their games. It’s not a crucial feature, but I’ve spent all day trying to pull the images from the Hellknight Hill PDF using assistive technology without success, so there doesn’t really seem to be a great way to do this right now.

Hello, and thanks again for sharing you feedback. We are aware of the challenges screen readers would have handling tooltip links, but we haven’t been able to land on a great solution for it yet.

Your friend is correct - on desktop screen sizes, hovering over those links will display a hovercard with information, or clicking it will open a sidebar drawer that displays all of the details of the element. The issue is, that while the screen reader knows it’s a link, we aren’t sure how to dynamically display the “hidden until hovered over” information since there’s so much of it. We are exploring options and will share updates as soon as we have them.

And we have better image management on the roadmap that would include things like pop up lightboxing, gallery views, download / view larger controls, etc. In the short term, I’m not sure without looking into it closer with a screen reader, but all images can be opened in a new tab and downloaded from that new tab through the browser controls. But we’ll have some of those image improvements in place by next year.

We’ll share more as we get there - all things related to development take longer than we’d all like (including our internal teams), but they are all on the list that we are working through them.

Thanks!

As someone who works in tech and has dealt with web design some, I can attest to the incredibly juxtaposed nature of wanting to include accessibility options but having the implementation of them being incredibly difficult.

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It is possible to hover over links with screen readers, but I’m not sure how to display the text in the right way. I know often when I click a link that displays information over top of the page I am already on my screen reader presents that to me as a Web Dialog Box. For instance, to use an example from character management and tabletop gaming web sites, Roll20 character sheets open in a web dialog like this when you click them, unless you change a setting to pop out character sheets in separate windows. Perhapse an option in account setting to have the linked content pop out in a separate window or open in a new tab?
I appreciate your awareness of these issues, but I cannot stress enough that I am repeatedly harping on these issues because it has been almost a year since I was told that accessibility is being worked on and I have seen no progress. The vision of bringing high quality digital toolsets to so many games is a good one, but my main concern is that more and more features are rolling out that remain inaccessible, and at this rate I worry that it will be like D&D beyond was in my experience and remain largely inaccessible. I attempted to address concerns with that toolset when it was in early access as well, and I am still unable to get past character creation without encountering parts of it I am unable to get past without help from my wife. Toolsets like Demiplane have a great opportunity to allow a community of gamers from all walks of life to get together and enjoy games without barrier, and that is something I have never experienced in my life before. I have no wish to give offense or to add more difficulties to your already full roadmap, but I need you to understand how incredibly frustrating it is to have reported issues that are stopping me from using your toolset in any effective way and to still be encountering those issues after 9-10 months.

I am sorry you are frustrated with the pace of updates - that is something I hear a whole lot from almost every corner when it comes to software development, and I’ve learned over the years the best thing we can do is seek to improve day by day.

While I understand that no one likes to wait for things (especially the things that directly impact them), I don’t agree with your assessment that there has been “no progress” - that is hyperbole that I don’t believe is true if we look at things as a whole. We have made changes (some of which were based on your own feedback) to update icons for better screen reader literacy, and our team has been working to make several other manual updates in Pathfinder book content now that we’ve identified the best way for us to make those changes at scale (which will release soon). Those learnings have also contributed to newer NEXUSes like ALIEN and another one that will release this week having those updates in place from the start instead of us having to catch them up to the standard we want to have. This is in addition to how the general digitization approach we take with game content already bakes in lessons we’ve learned over the years to make the content more accessible at the ground level than a standard PDF.

Having said all of that, we do absolutely want our digital tools to be useable (and very useful) to as many fans as we can reach with them. So your and everyone’s feedback helps us get there. We will still be working toward that goal every day we come to the office, and we’re committed to getting there even though it will end up taking longer than anyone would like for it to.

We appreciate your interest and time sharing your experience during Early Access, and we will keep trying to improve both the platform and pace as much as we are able.

Thanks!

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I would like to start off by saying that I am gratified to hear that there are accessibility updates in the pipeline and I look forward to their release. I do, however, have several problems with your previous post, which I shall expand upon below.
The difference between the general frustrations of the community at perceived slowness in development and my frustrations with the pace of implementing accessible design is that in my case, the lack of proper accessibility makes it extremely difficult if not downright impossible to use the majority of your features. As it stands right now with the reader, it might as well just be a PDF, because I can’t actually use any of it’s other features at all. In my experience, there is no work-around to speak of, and it has been the same since early access began. As for the labels you have implemented, I can honestly say that I haven’t noticed them. The controls to access the table of contents and such in the reader view continue to be unlabeled, as do the controls within a Demiplane game. If I have missed elements that were unlabeled and are now labeled, then I appologize for the hyperbole of my previous post, but as far as I can tell in my use of this site, the areas I have pointed out labeling issues with still remain, which is especially problematic within a Demiplane game.
I acknoledge that most of my posts in this thread have been very critical, but I would like to end on a more positive note. The compendium as it is right now is very accessible and useful. I find it preferable to the Archives of Nethys site I typically use, particularly with the way Class Feats are made a part of their respective class entries as buttons you can click to expand the full descriptions. This might only be in the mobile view, which is how I have most commonly used the compendium, but I like it a lot. Literally the only drawback with the compendium right now from an accessibility standpoint is the unlabeled action graphics, and it is my hope that these will be resolved along with the other mentioned issues. The compendium is tied with the character builder for me as far as features I prioritize most, and I love how easy it is to use on whatever device I have to hand.

Hello @baelorthebard - we just pushed an update to add the appropriate labels for the action icons within the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, where you will now see them in the Digital Reader and the various Listings (Spells, Items, Creatures, etc.) in the Game Compendium.

No worries at all if you don’t have time to check it out, but if you have a moment, I would appreciate hearing if that is working correctly in your screen reader before we do a mass update of all the rest of the Pathfinder content.

If you can’t get to it in the next couple of days, we’ll go ahead and proceed, but I wanted to check to see.

Thanks!

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Good news @BadEye. I am able to read the action icons with a screen reader now. I tested using the following browser and screen reader combinations, and it worked on all of them.
iOS, Safari browser using VoiceOver screen reader
Windows: Both Firefox and Chrome, using both the Jaws and NVDA screen readers
Will the icons also be labeled in the compendium?
I look forward to more things being labeled.

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They should already be working in the compendium with the update we pushed today. If you don’t see them updated there, let me know, but they should be good to go.

We will proceed with updating the rest of the books. Thanks for taking a look!

Hi again Demiplane staff,
I love that I can now correctly read the action graphics. I was wondering if there are any more accessibility fixes in the works? I would be particularly interested in fixes for the links within books in the reader that pop up additional information.
This might be something you’re already aware of, but have you researched the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) at all? I was looking for a link to post for them but since I’m not a developer I wasn’t sure which link would be a helpful resource. Googling Web Content Accessibility Guidelines should get you to the right place though. This might already be something you’re aware of, but if not it might be helpful to you.

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Hello again!

Yes, we are familiar with the web content accessibility guidelines, and they are foundational to the accessibility improvements we will be making throughout the Early Access development period for the platform.

Regarding the tooltip hovercards, we are still working through the best approach as hovering is a challenge. Activating the link (clicking, tapping, entering while the link is “focused”) should open a sidebar drawer (or overlay on mobile) that would provide all the same information for whatever element the link is referring to that should be accessible by screen readers. If that is not working, we can dig in and figure out why.

Thanks!

Yeah hovering is a bit weird with screen readers, but in my current job there are several times when I need to hover the mouse over something in order to access content, and I was surprised to learn that it is actually possible to do, and it’s quite simple. I’m not sure if a lot of people know that though, so the solution you’re working on makes sense to me. I look forward to seeing it in action.