Monday, 28 September 2009

SharePoint - Fading Eyes

All good things come to an end and that is what happened to the Villa’s winning run on Saturday. Thanks to a referee who for once had good eye-sight. The ref noted that the ball ACCIDENTALLY hit a Villa defender’s arm and gave Blackburn a last minute penalty. So what about fading eye-sight and SharePoint? I have certainly notice in the last few years that I find it harder to read smaller text on the screen. When I am with customers whose screen resolution is set to 1280 by 1024 or greater I end up having to virtually sit on their lap before I can read the screen. Not all customers are happy with me doing this. So SharePoint needs to allow for individuals having different viewing requirements and one of the latest webpart offerings from SharePoint Boost goes a long way to doing just this. Like many of SharePoint Boosts products the ‘SharePoint Text Size Zoom’ (sorry SharePoint Boost but I am not too excited by the name) is very simple to install and use. All it does is makes available a webpart to any site that simply lets the user increase, or reduce (for those with bionic eyesight) any text on the site. So people like me instead of sitting on a customer’s lap can simply click on the big A on the page and make everything bigger. A really useful tool and a quick win for many SharePoint Administrators. If only I could have clicked a button on Saturday that made the Villa goalkeeper bigger, then he might have saved the penalty. Or a button that reduced the size of the goal would also be as good. Have a look at the Office Talk website to find out more about SharePoint Boost’s ‘SharePoint Text Size Zoom’. Accessibility in SharePoint is certainly a talking point and even with the latest SharePoint Accessibility Kit from HiSoftware it leads to many arguments. Even without installing the Accessibility Kit (which should always be tested in a Test Environment before installing on a Live system) you can make some basic Accessibility considerations when creating your SharePoint sites. These are three rules that I always try to follow and I always mention when I am running SharePoint Designer Workshops. 1. Don’t Forget Alternative Text. On all images fill out the ‘alternative text’ entry. This allows Screen Reader software to describe the picture 2. Use black text on a white background. If you must use colour, use two colours that have the most contrast. Think about people who are Colour Blind and try to avoid the use of blue, red and green. 3. Think About Hyperlink Text. A Screen Reader does not want to read “Click Here” several times on the same page. Instead but a quick indicator to what happens if you click this button. Accessibility in SharePoint’ is a big subject and needs to be part of any successful SharePoint project. A great blog on ‘Accessibility in SharePoint’ is written by Andrew Woodward and well worth a read. Hopefully Villa will bounce back next week when they play Manchester City. Now if they could just find a way of reducing the size of Man City’s purse strings.

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