Dachang, your apps are terrible

As a visually impaired person, Wendy's perception of the "Information Accessibility Research Association" is very negative, and there are many visually impaired people who resist this organization like her.

There is no other reason. The "Information Accessibility Research Association" has in-depth cooperation with many major Internet companies. In the promotion, they will help major companies complete the barrier-free optimization of their products. But for more than 10 million visually impaired people in China, this kind of cooperation has not made the apps they use any better.

On the contrary, because of this kind of official cooperation, the efficient feedback channels that many visually impaired people have previously established with programmers have been "monopolized." Whenever a visually impaired person wants to give feedback on some questions, he often gets a reply that "we cooperate with professional organizations".

▲ Information Accessibility Research Association and many major manufacturers have jointly established an information accessibility product alliance

In addition, more and more large-scale PR manuscripts have begun to appear in the content endorsement of the "Information Accessibility Research Association", making it even worse in the visually impaired group. In the eyes of many visually impaired people, this research conference is the existence of collecting money to help major manufacturers do PR.

And accessibility research will also be "aggrieved" by users' misunderstandings. As a group established in 2005, they have always been concerned about the optimization of the experience related to accessibility, have also carried out accessibility cooperation with many products, and established feedback channels for many products and users.

However, the optimization of accessibility does not happen overnight. Both product developers and associations need more time. In the final analysis, the reason for a certain gap between the barrier-free seminar and the visually impaired users is actually- many products of major manufacturers are not easy to use.

These apps are difficult to use without accessibility

Taobao is an application that has never lacked accessibility promotion. They have online stores opened by the visually impaired, and they have also launched the "Reading OCR" function to make shopping for the visually impaired more convenient.

But in the eyes of the visually impaired, this is a story with the same tone and different tunes.

▲ Taobao promotes its accessibility features at the Technology Accessibility Development Conference

Lily, a visually impaired person, has never been able to modify or add Taobao's delivery address, which means that she cannot use Taobao once she changes her address.

Another visually impaired person, Eureka, directly stated that "Taobao's accessibility is going backwards . "

Although Taobao has implemented various accessibility features such as OCR recognition early on, most of these optimizations have not been retained. To put this into the specific user experience, the best case is that Eureka can't even find the Taobao search box, because the screen reader will not tell you that this is a search box—Taobao didn't configure it for this.

The visually impaired Wendy also has a lot of complaints about Taobao's specific experience. Although this app has the OCR recognition function (helping the visually impaired to extract the text in the picture), it is not easy to find the detailed picture in the product link, which makes the useful function itself tasteless.

▲ Taobao launched the OCR function very early, so that the visually impaired can also use it. Picture from: E-commerce Online

For a long time, Wendy could not browse more products in Taobao stores. As an "experienced blind person," her shopping path on Taobao is to search for products, select products, and place orders. Because she couldn't "see" other products in the Taobao store, she couldn't put together orders in the same store, that is, seeing and buying became her only choice.

Fortunately, this bug, which lasted for nearly two years, has recently been fixed, but before that, Wendy actually used that troublesome, neutered Taobao.

When comparing the accessibility experience of several shopping apps, a visually impaired person said that the current Taobao is the worst among e-commerce companies. It is not as good as JD.com and Pinduoduo, even though this is the earliest shopping app.

▲ Taobao's accessibility started very early, but the visually impaired group said that its accessibility is regressing. Image from: Lieyun.com

Wang Hao, a visually impaired person, thinks Taobao can represent many applications. They cannot be said to be completely useless, but they are far from useful for the visually impaired.

The most representative point is that every time there is a festival like Double 11, Taobao will have a major update that discards some accessibility features. For example, before the screen reader software can read the name of a certain function label, the name read after the revision may be confused or even disappear directly.

In the process of rapid iteration of the products of major manufacturers, the accessibility configuration function with low priority is likely to be discarded. This is not a problem unique to Taobao.

Zhihu is also a case of getting worse and worse. With the update of each version, Wang Hao discovered more and more problems-the label is not accurate, and the page turning gesture cannot turn the page…

▲ Know that many buttons are only read as "buttons" in screen readers. Image provided by interviewee

Worse than such applications as Taobao is that there is almost no barrier-free optimization. Douban, Station B, Weibo… They are all examples of almost no barrier-free optimization.

Fortunately, the negative cases are not all of them. In addition to these "useful but not useful" applications, there are also many applications that the visually impaired people find good.

Wang Hao believes that WeChat and QQ Music are good domestic applications because they continue to optimize the accessibility experience. From 7.0 to 8.0, perhaps the average user perceives not many WeChat update points. But for the experience of the visually impaired, WeChat has been greatly optimized.

When comparing the accessibility optimization of short video applications, Wang Hao also believes that the accessibility experience of WeChat video accounts is far better than that of short video applications such as Douyin.

▲ WeChat

Wendy feels the same, that the services provided by WeChat are basically "barrier-free." It can even be said that the accessibility optimization of WeChat has made this app easy to use for the visually impaired.

Without optimization, the visually impaired group needs to draw four times to read the following circle of friends with three pictures, and at least seven times to add friends’ likes and comments. What the visually impaired people heard was "The really rich woman sent a piece of content…pictures, pictures, pictures, and sage and sage comments are included in the state of liking this."

After the optimization of WeChat, visually impaired people can know the complete circle of friends content in one swipe. What they heard is "A real rich woman has posted a piece of content, three pictures." If someone comments, likes, and sees the complete list of friends The circle only needs to be swiped twice.

For the visually impaired, this is indeed an optimization based on their usage habits, and the usage efficiency is higher.

▲ An example of a circle of friends

But WeChat is not without its shortcomings.

The screen reading function used by the visually impaired has a gesture operation called "rotor". Analogous to the usage habits of ordinary users, the "rotor" is like a button to call out a shortcut menu, and its function is not the same as that of an ordinary button. In the chat interface, WeChat did a good job of optimizing the two gestures, but Moments did not make different settings for the two gestures.

In general, there is still plenty of room for improvement in the accessibility of WeChat.

▲ The barrier-free design of WeChat chat messages makes full use of Apple's barrier-free interface to make interviews for the visually impaired more efficient. Image courtesy of the interviewee

Eureka feels that WeChat is not as barrier-free as QQ. It took a long time to fix the problem of unable to read the screen when receiving files. The rich WeChat applet ecology is basically useless for visually impaired users.

In his view, apps that are optimized for accessibility are Xiakitchen, IT Home, QQ mailbox, and third-party Weibo app Share.

▲ QQ has been compatible with third-party screen reading software many years ago

Outside of publicity, there is no unified standard App matrix

WeChat, QQ, QQ music, QQ mailbox… This is an application for the visually impaired to be named and praised, but does this mean that Tencent has done a good job in optimizing accessibility?

The answer is no.

▲ Some Tencent apps have received recognition from the barrier-free community

Although there are some good products, many of the products in Tencent's product matrix are still "persuading" visually impaired users, and Tencent Video is one of the most persuaded. Gu Linglei, the author of the public account "Accessibility," once said that some pages of Tencent Video are blank to him. No matter whether they are browsed with touch or swipe gestures, they cannot read any content. Wendy felt the same way:

A previous version of Tencent Video did not have any intersections in the "My" tab. I don’t want to log in to register, view the watch history, etc. Searching for film and television works did not have intersections. For example, when I searched for "Xiao Huanxi", there were no intersections. I had to turn on the screen to identify them before I could catch them.

In this regard, Ali's Youku is the best long video application optimized. Although Alibaba's Taobao is not very good, youku for long videos, Alipay for financial applications, and Gaode for map navigation perform well. Are you a little hungry than these performances, and the barrier-free aspect is far better than Meituan, which can only fumble for orders.

▲The "Listen to Alipay" function has won the company's internal CEO award. Picture from: Alipay 2017-2018 Sustainability Report

In the eyes of everyone, Baidu, which was about to be delisted by BAT, did not perform very well either.

Eureka said that he was often blocked by Baidu at the first level. Baidu's authentication method often requires you to rotate the picture to the center of the picture, or ask you to select characters and drag pictures… These operations almost shut out the visually impaired.

In the actual use process, the Baidu network disk that was used in every possible way was still not equipped with any tags, and Baidu's iQiyi was also rated as the least accessible long video application by Wendy.

▲ Baidu's verification method by dragging the tiles shuts out the visually impaired

In the eyes of everyone, Bytedance, which replaces Baidu to join BAT, is quickly catching up with the barrier-free team. Although the accessibility of applications such as light-face cameras is almost equal to zero, more and more applications have entered a state of "make do with it."

After the Spring Festival this year, many visually impaired people who care about the Internet have joined the barrier-free feedback community of Douyin. There, their feedback will be heard by the product manager for the first time, and big manufacturers are also continuing to collect suggestions from barrier-free users.

Of course, whether it changes quickly or not is another matter. The issue that Wendy put forward a few months ago that the edit box of the TikTok comment reply does not read the screen has not been fixed until today.

▲ Tiktok barrier-free challenge for foreign users

There is such a big difference in applications between major companies, which actually reflects a problem-even major companies with more standardized app development have almost no unified standard for accessibility optimization of applications. In addition to the publicity of the PR draft, the difference in app accessibility optimization standards of big companies can still make people feel the "variance of the world."

Xia Bingying, head of Android accessibility design at Google, told Ai Faner that Google has a set of specific standards for the degree of accessibility optimization of its own products. For some government products and educational products, Google will also make accessibility better and more comprehensive in accordance with the requirements of local laws and regulations.

And these are currently not available in major manufacturers such as BAT.

▲ Google has accessibility optimization requirements for applications

Late request, silent change

In fact, barrier-free optimization is not as difficult as imagined.

Adding tags to each function of the product is a basic accessibility feature. After adding tags, visually impaired users can see what each tag represents, and it will be more convenient to use.

▲ Internet accessibility is actually not difficult

Those who really want to make barrier-free products can find barrier-free consulting companies such as Deque and Level Access to help them complete the transformation of their products. These companies will help product developers complete app accessibility tests and help them adjust apps to compliance standards.

▲ The accessibility rules engine of consulting company Deque has been downloaded more than 10 million times

Unfortunately, many developers will ignore the error report of the development platform, and many app stores will not undertake the work of accessibility checks.

When it comes to the optimization of the accessibility of the app, many visually impaired people are helpless: "What else can I do? Use it!" They can only try and make mistakes over and over again, and they can barely use these functions when there is no way to complain. Serious application of castration.

But the situation is showing signs of improvement.

In April of this year, the General Office of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People's Republic of China issued a notice on the implementation of the special action on the ageing of Internet applications and the improvement of accessibility. The notice attached an evaluation system for the ageing of Internet applications and the level of accessibility. This makes more and more application developers begin to pay attention to accessibility. Of course, the first thing to pay attention to is still the big factory.

▲Notice on further improving the implementation of special actions for the ageing of Internet applications and barrier-free renovation

Since the end of last year, Xia Bingying has received frequent sharing invitations from major Chinese companies, hoping that she can tell the employees of major companies what barrier-free applications are and how they should be done.

From developers to managers, China's digital applications are also undergoing a barrier-free revolution.

Everything is getting better.

Eureka's friend "Curious 01" is a junior high school student. During the winter vacation, he wrote a script to add screen reader support for CC subtitles (closed captions) and barrage to the web side of station B, and then open sourced the script to Github. The engineer at station B saw this script. After that, the CC subtitles at station B could be read by the screen reader without any other operations.

As a programmer who is still learning, Eureka has a better understanding of the barrier-free construction of big factories.

Large companies may have product iteration cycles, product bug schedules, bugs also have priority, and there is a very real problem. What kind of benefits will I do? Is this really used by users? Some people even don't even know that their products have visually impaired users. They think that visually impaired users can't use mobile phones at all.

From a programmer's point of view, I know that there are certain difficulties in optimizing accessibility.

But for large companies, having difficulties is not a reason not to do so.

Not too interesting, not too optimistic.

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Ai Faner | Original link · View comments · Sina Weibo