Wow, I couldn’t believe it when I read it:
Recently a friend of mine visited a blog she often visits. What she didn’t know was that the blogger had added a fun, temporary new feature to her blog. When my friend visited the blog, it triggered a seizure.
The seizure trigger in my friend’s case was WordPress’s “Let It Snow” feature, which is a plug-in option that will cause little white dots to float continuously down the screen soon after someone opens the blog.
Ugh. We had this plugin active for a few weeks around the holiday season late last year on this blog and just the thought of the possibility that it could cause someone to have a literal seizure makes me incredibly anxious!
The purpose of sharing this news article isn’t to make you freak out and begin to question every single plugin that you have installed or have active right now but it’s to remind us of the need and necessity for good accessibility practices throughout all of our publishing duties and responsibilities.
After Gadget goes on to clarify how “auto-play” features can trigger these types of things and elements to look out for:
The problem is larger than snow. And it doesn’t just affect people who are susceptible to seizures.
Autoplays — any sound or movement that starts up automatically when someone opens an email or webpage — can interfere with internet usage for many, many people.
Examples of autoplays:
- A music player that starts up automatically when someone visits your business site or .ning personal page
- A video that starts playing when a visitor opens a news article
- Animated GIFs (short clips of moving pictures or drawings) that you paste in the comments section of an online magazine
- Graemlins or smileys in emails or on bulletin boards that bounce, flash, or change facial expressions
Examples of disabilities that are affected by autoplays:
- Blindness, low vision, or other visual issues
- Migraines and seizures (the first and fourth most common neurological disorders, respectively)
- Sensory processing issues and various of other neurological issues
- PTSD, panic attacks, and other conditions that cause a heightened startle responses
Again, the issue of surrounding accessibility and how you can become more educated and aware of these challenges (and opportunities for great user experience)!
Here are two ways to make sure that you can create a great blog and site with accessibility in mind:
- Don’t Use Autoplays – Make it optional or opt-in.
- Notify Website Owners – Make website and blog owners aware of these challenges and ask them to make it an opt-in experience.
An incredible public service announcement, thanks @Redcrew!