I'm working on a design for a program with GUIs for basic, intermediate, advanced, and expert modes.

You can find my question on the topic here: https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/205286/design-tips-for-a-program-with-guis-for-basic-intermediate-advanced-expert

It's been suggested that I use the incremental discovery principle which I think is a great idea. There is a catch, though - the basic mode is supposed to double as "screen-reader" mode.

Would anyone have experience on how incremental discovery fairs among the visually impaired?

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    So your original plan was that blind users wouldn't be able to access the whole application, only the "basic" features? Sounds like whatever else you do will be better than that.
    – Dan Hulme
    Jul 18, 2013 at 9:32
  • Considering that most applications provide no support whatsoever for visually impaired users, your comment is flippant, malicious, and of absolutely no value to anyone.
    – Da Txomin
    Jul 18, 2013 at 10:51
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    @DanHulme - Dan Hulme's comment is not malicious. It is advisable to make the whole application accessible for those with a screen reader. Jul 18, 2013 at 11:06
  • That's why I'm asking about incremental discovery and accessibility!!!! The application that I'm going to replace is, like all applications, accessible to a screen reader. And, like all applications, it is a mess because it has not been designed with accessibility in mind.
    – Da Txomin
    Jul 18, 2013 at 11:36
  • Sorry if my comment was a bit prickly. If you're replacing an old inaccessible design, more power to your elbow!
    – Dan Hulme
    Jul 18, 2013 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


Some experience with this, but not a developer. Progressive disclosure is not in and of itself inaccessible; it's the way it's implemented. Be really careful with show and hide properties. One of my former teammates is visually impaired and we relied on him to test public-facing web apps. He found two big issues that made it impossible for him to proceed with a screen-reader, or even to parse the page logically. They can be corrected, but you'll need someone smarter than me to provide you with the fixes:

  1. Failure to associate radio button labels with radio button groups. This resulted in a series of questions with obvious "Yes" answers leading deeper into the flow, and any "No" answers ending the flow with a "Thanks for trying!" intercept page. The very last question's radio button group was unlabeled, so he figured the right answer was "Yes" and gamely moved on. Unfortunately, the question was "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" and resulted in a hard stop with no explanation. Progressive disclosure fail; it required a "No" answer, but the question was completely hidden from the screen reader.
  2. Programmatically showing/hiding divs. Everything, but everything, was visible to the screen reader, making the page a hopeless jumble and throwing away all the conditionality (because he had access to things that were intended to be progressively disclosed).

I hope this is at least a start. Good for you for working towards accessibility.

  • Thank you. That's exactly my concern. The GUI is complex by itself. If it starts to mutate, the mental map of the visually impaired user will be compromised.I must say I'm surprise how little information I'm able to find on accessibility issues.
    – Da Txomin
    Jul 18, 2013 at 23:34
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    The best way to learn about the accessibility of your site, point by point, is to sit with a visually impaired power user and have them walk through it, with JAWS on speaker. It's enlightening, to say the least. Jul 19, 2013 at 18:34
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    +1 @LindaBarmmer for remembering to include the end-user.
    – Don Nickel
    Aug 1, 2013 at 12:55
  • Thank you, Don! If you are fortunate enough to work with people with this skill set, I highly recommend tapping into their expertise. Aug 1, 2013 at 14:25

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