I little while back I posted on my personal site how a recent update to Bloglines had caused it to stop working for me at my place of work. The title was Bloglines Is Broken (for me, at least), but it turns out I wasn’t the only one having issues. In doing the update the ‘wizard behind the curtains’ had also managed to break access to the service for screen reader users, as noted on Blind Access Journal. I wasn’t alone!
The good news is that the people at Bloglines (or Ask.com, depending on how you view it) do listen to its audience, and the navigation tree in the left pain - I mean ‘pane’, sorry, Freudian slip! - is now working properly for screen reader users.
I have to say that I am encouraged by Bloglines’ approach to this. It’s not taken them long to address this, really. Many other companies would sit on it for months or even years by which time its affected users would have long gone. I’ve also been impressed with the proactive approach taken by the software engineers at Bloglines who have got in touch with me to keep me informed of progress on my issue (and they’ve assured me that there will be a non JS-reliant version of the subscriptions tree forthcoming).
A little victory for accessibility, but the larger battle continues - I am sure that this won’t be the last ‘improvement’ to a web-based service that inadvertantly breaks access to key functionality to some of its audience but if a few other companies would take a leaf out of Bloglines’ book, it’d be a good thing indeed.