TL;DR:Too Long; Didn't Read
We want the information on this website to be accessible. That said, it's a frustrating experience for people with disabilities, when a website is not accessible. It's better to include them among our target audience, listen to them, and build a better application. That's a win-win situation.
In general, we use common website elements because it's often easier for people to follow conventions that they're already accustomed to. For example, each web page has a banner on top that includes our logo, as well as quick links to the main sections on this website. Important legal statements, as well as information about Tobacco Review, are accessible from the footer links on bottom. Articles, as well as interactive charts, data-tables and maps, are in the main menu on the left.
The banner also has an Access Mode button (wheel chair symbol) that can be used to enable or disable accessible data. When accessible data is enabled, data tables are used instead of charts and maps. In addition to data, screen readers can access text descriptions and status messages.
This entire website is keyboard accessible: you can interact with charts, data tables and maps, as well as read content using only the keyboard. You can use the Tab key to access each button, link and control. Or use the Shift-Tab key combination to move in the opposite direction. Then press the Enter key to activate each button, link or control. And each chart, data table and map has specific keyboard instructions.
There are two "Skip to Main Content" links inside the banner that are not visible until they have keyboard focus. You can use the first link to skip passed all navigation — including the Access Mode button. Or use the second link to skip passed the Main Menu. Charts, data tables and maps, also have a link that can be used to skip passed them.
Screen Reader Access
In general, screen readers can access most of the content on this website. Data visualization is a challenge, however, because most of the information is visual. For example, the charts and maps on this website have some screen reader support built into them, but not enough to be considered accessible. In that case, it's better to render the same data in well-structured tables that are much easier to access.
It's important to look at the data, and think about what it means. But it must be in a format that works well for each person. Charts and maps are fun, but they have no value if you can't see them. If you have a visual impairment, or you would rather look at tabular data, you can use the Access Mode button to enable accessible data.
In addition to accessible content, screen readers can access text descriptions that are otherwise not visible. If you can see, some activities are obvious — for example, opening a dialog window or selecting a checkbox. People who cannot see, however, don't have the benefit of visual cues. There is no substitute for visual information. Descriptions and important messages, however, can communicate some of that information.
If you are using an assistive technology to access this website — for example, Apple's VoiceOver screen reader, we have some recommendations. In addition to keyboard navigation, use the headings to learn about each web page. Then drill down to specific information.
If you enter a form, while using screen reader commands to move around, use the Tab key or Shift-Tab key combination to access the form elements. And press the Enter key or Space bar to select them. If you don't tab into the first form element, you can tab into one of the "Skip to Main Content" links, press the Enter key, then tab into the form.