How accessible are Britain's online newspapers? Part 8 - The Times
I've been looking at how accessible British newspaper websites are, testing the most popular online papers against a set of criteria. So far I've looked at the Daily Express, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Guardian, Independent, The Sun and The Telegraph. Today, I'm looking at the accessibility of The Times website.
The Times, along with The Mirror and The Guardian was one of only 3 out of the 8 newspapers I tested who allowed users to resize their text fully in Internet Explorer 6. Text also resized well in Firefox, although there were some minor display issues around the top promo area.
Alternative image text
The Times site seemed to have consistently good, if slightly over-descriptive, alternative image text in place. There was a tendency to put what seemed to be the whole of the stand-first or some ultra-descriptive text into the alt attribute on an image. This might be great for SEO, but could be a bit wearisome when listened to using screen-reading software.
Browsing using FANGS
One test I carried out on all the newspapers was to try to read the homepage and the top story using the FANGS add-on in Firefox which emulates the output of popular screen-reader JAWS.
On the day I tested the sites, The Times performed better than any other newspaper in allowing screen readers to get to content. It took FANGS 'reading out' 184 words to get to the link for the headline of the day's main story, about Conservative proposals to reduce Inheritance Tax. Once I reached the story page, it was then a further 137 words before getting to the main headline.
Not only was this less screen reader words than any other newspaper to get from the homepage to the meat of the main story of the day, The Times also provides a 'skip navigation' link on the homepage. This suggests that an experienced screen reader user would be able to get to the main story even quicker.
When I started this series, my intention was to review the 8 major British newspapers, but I've noticed that The Daily Star has recently re-designed their site and made it more in keeping with 2007 than 1997. I thought it would be worth looking to see how accessible this recent development was, and so tomorrow I will be looking at The Daily Star.