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Idea

Hello,

 

First of all, let me start off by saying that I am a totally blind computer user. I recently signed up for evernote and have been using a combo of the web beta and the windows desktop app. Both are resonably accessible with my prefered screen reader, Window-eyes by gwmicro. A screen reader is software that uses synthasized speech to convey information to a blind/visually impaired individual through the use of keyboard navigation. This information can be manipulated and customized in hundreds of ways to suit the user's preferences.

 

However, I just now read the announcement about testing the new beta and was not expecting to be told NOT to use the beta if we were using assistive tech software. I have to dmit, I'm disappointed in this request. I feel that, should the Evernote creators care about accessibility at all, they should invite screen reader and other AT users to test their product for accessibility issues. Wouldn't it be better to address them now in a beta stage and not have to deal with them later? Don't I have as much right to test the web beta as any other user and provide feedback? It's a little like saying, "you can test our new chocolate candy, but not if you like milk chocolate." Isn't that still chocolate?

 

It would seem to me that, by not wanting AT users to participate in the beta test, Evernote is limiting their potential market of users of their products. Presently, I can't write notes in the desktop app, I can't delete them in the web app. The desktop app has hotkeys, the web app doesn't, and I use full keyboard navigation for my entire computing experience. it's faster to drag and drop notes into notebooks in the web app, there are more shortcuts for moving notes in the desktop app though.

 

What the Evernote devs  might not know is that Window-eyes is currently in a beta testing cycle of its own. Part of this testing is for an advanced and entirely new version of Browse Mode. This is the interface mode that the software uses to communicate with web page elements. By rewriting the code for this feature from the ground up, GWMicro has made it possible for Window-Eyes users to FINALLY use a web version of the Evernote client; both the old version and new beta version are now somewhat accessible. Also, they have updated the use of Window-Eyes so that it can read the screens on the desktop app; it was unable to do this before due to a conflict in the UI of the native app. I still can't read the document window to write notes in the desktop app though. 

 

So, keeping this in mind, I would like to enquire as to the decision to not have AT users involved in a beta testing cycle of a product that is by far the most used notetaking software out there. Also, I would like to request that AT users be given the freedom to test and submit accessibility issues with the beta as well as  suggestions on how to make it easier to navigate. By doing this, the devs would be  weeding out issues that they might have to deal with in future. By not doing this, the devs are showing a sad lack of ambition to make their products accessible in a world where accessibility is becoming more of a recognized issue in the web development community. One need only look at mlb.com and amazon.com at the tops of their respective pages to notice this.

 

I would appreciate any feedback on this issue and encourage discussion. I will freely admit that these are my opinions and, as such, can be taken with however many grains of virtual salt you desire. That said, I thank you for reading this and hope you will consider my concerns as valid. If you would like any further explanation and/or a demo of how I navigate the web and your evernote apps in particular, please don't hesitate to ask.

 

thank you,

Dave

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Agreed, they should certainly encourage the broadest possible testing.  Speaking as a former programmer, accessability needs to be designed in from the beginning, and feedback throughout the development cycle is especially vital. Often there are relatively simple changes that can be made to improve accessability, which only become apparent when the application is put to real-world use.

 

As an aside, I am curious, mobile apps are supposed to present a simplified, streamlined user interface, as compared to Web apps. In your experience, does a mobile-style UI tend to enhance accessability, or make it worse?

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Agreed, they should certainly encourage the broadest possible testing.  Speaking as a former programmer, accessability needs to be designed in from the beginning, and feedback throughout the development cycle is especially vital. Often there are relatively simple changes that can be made to improve accessability, which only become apparent when the application is put to real-world use.

 

As an aside, I am curious, mobile apps are supposed to present a simplified, streamlined user interface, as compared to Web apps. In your experience, does a mobile-style UI tend to enhance accessability, or make it worse?

 

Agreed, they should certainly encourage the broadest possible testing.  Speaking as a former programmer, accessability needs to be designed in from the beginning, and feedback throughout the development cycle is especially vital. Often there are relatively simple changes that can be made to improve accessability, which only become apparent when the application is put to real-world use.

 

As an aside, I am curious, mobile apps are supposed to present a simplified, streamlined user interface, as compared to Web apps. In your experience, does a mobile-style UI tend to enhance accessability, or make it worse?

 

 

A mobile site is a blessing and a curse. The amazon.com site used to be really nice and easy to navigate. However, they have changed the site now and actually have neglected to label the images on there properly. So much for being accessible.

 

On the other hand, the evernote mobile site is fairly useful. At least, for adding a single note. Other than that, can't do much with it, so I'm back to using the desktop client for making notebooks and deleting notes, and the web app (preferably mobile) for writing them. But that shouldn't be necessary . the interfaces of both programs/apps should be accessible. I wonder how I could get this noticed more by the developers?

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Thanks for answering my quesiton! Maybe I can answer one of yours.

 

[snip]

I wonder how I could get this noticed more by the developers?

 

You created a topic under the correct forum Web Beta, so hopefully they'll see it.

 

In addition to the tags you picked, try tagging this topic, and any future topics, with two more tags: beta & web beta.

 

Perhaps you could lobby the forum moderators to create a sticky topic under the Web Beta forum to gather all the comments re accessibility?

 

Also, you could monitor the tag "beta release", this tag is apparently used exclusively by the forum moderators to post new topics containing the release notes for each new version of the beta. Before the holidays, they used to post weekly; hopefully they will resume that schedule soon. If the release note mentions a specific feature that touches on accessability, post a reply under that topic. The developers appear to monitor the replies posted to their release notes.

 

Your Milage May Vary.

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Thank you for the feedback everyone.  We read all of the comments in the forum.  :)  As you know we are still in the process of adding functionality to the product.  We are aware of the accessibility problems that we currently have.  Thanks for flagging this and we'll keep this in mind as we move forward and implement more features for our users. 

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