WAVE Goodbye, WAVE Hello - the Re-test

Original WAVE tool accessibility report
Putting our own site through the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE) proved a little distressing; the original Blogger template threw up a horrific list of accessibility faults. One change of template later and the re-test results are... mixed.

Here's the before and after report:

Site  Errors  Contrast  Alerts
Catling Mindswipe (Blogger old)   35 175 139
Catling Mindswipe (Blogger new)   29   3  63

Re-test WAVE tool accessibility report
We switched from one of Blogger's Classic templates, originally deployed 2010, updated by Blogger a couple of times, but no significant structural re-writes, to one of the 'new' Template Designer set. This one, which may be Simple (once you deploy it there's no easy way to find the name of it), should be more standards-compliant.

The easiest category to fix was contrast. The original pale blue accent colour was just too pale and WAVE rightly trashed it. A change of colour scheme later and 175 is reduced to 3, which are hard-coded template elements with low contrast grey on white. Nothing to be done from an admin panel.

That left 29 'errors' and 63 alerts.

29 Errors

The 29 errors were detailed as:

27 x Linked image missing alternative text
2 x Missing form label

The image ALT tags all belong to in-page icons for emailing comments, half of which are hidden in alternative styles rendered in the page but only triggered (I think) on mobile displays. Nothing to be done from an admin panel.

The missing form labels belong to the Search widget input form and the subscribe by email input form, both sidebar widgets. Neither of those widgets have options to specify form labels.

They may be wrong from an accessibility perspective, but we can't do anything about it.

63 Alerts

The 63 alerts were given as:

3 x Justified text
1 x Unlabeled form control with title
8 x Suspicious link text
5 x Redundant link
1 x Link to PDF document
1 x Noscript element
43 x Redundant title text
2 x Layout table

Justified texts are all contained in the sidebar widgets for the Tag Cloud. WAVE doesn't like justified text for readability. Blogger doesn't give and option to change the widget formatting.

The unlabelled form control is that Search form input box, again. The valid reason still feels like double-counting. Can't touch it. Move on.

'Suspicious' text links belong to the Read more under each of the eight posts on the page. Can't edit those. Move on.

Redundant links are difficult to work out in the page render but WAVE is seeing identical adjacent links side by side. Can't alter the template for those. Move on.

The one link to a PDF is embedded in the page content and ironically goes to the British Dyslexia Association, which is third party content. WAVE doesn't like content being 'hidden' in PDF's. WAVE's suggestion from the Info box:

Ensure the PDF document is natively accessible. Additionally, inform the user that the link will open a PDF document. Because PDF documents may have limitations in accessibility (particularly for complex content) and require a separate program, HTML content should often be used in place of or in addition to the PDF document.

Like this is going to happen with every 3rd party PDF as a reference. It's not wrong, it just doesn't meet with reality. 

The one Noscript element is a link to an alternate stylesheet. There is no content to make accessible. WAVE doesn't know that.

The 43 redundant title texts belong to social media icons below each post. Good practice says title your images, especially if they are links. WAVE has decided this is poor practice. Sigh. Nothing to be done here either. Keep moving.

Two 'layout table's are the search and subscribe forms. They are forms, not tables. Bloody forms. Again. Can't change form layout. Done.

As the site admin, I know there are things that could and should be changed. There's also some that are interpretations of good practice. I recognise the page as rendered is far from ideal. But as the site admin, I can't change the template. You'd think the folks at Blogger might have run their templates through some tools before release.

Where does that leave us? More in part IV. RC