|What's the Best <meta> or <link> tag?|
I want to make it as easy as possible for blind readers.
I have a visual, map-based search page.
I also have an "advanced search" page that is actually far better for blind readers than the visual page.
However, for 99.9% of my visitors, I want them to land on the visual page, so it's my landing page for the search. I tried to figure out how to filter for screen readers and automatically redirect, but no dice.
At the top of the page is a button called "Advanced Search". The title attribute for this button says "Screen Readers Should Use the Advanced Search Instead of the Basic Search."
I would like to add header tags that might help screen readers go to the Advanced Search page as quickly as possible.
I have seen a TON of discussion about the efficacy of these tags, with the consensus seeming to be "They're basically useless, so don't rely on them."
However, in a "belt and suspenders" approach, I'd like to put them in there so that maybe some screen readers can use them.
What are the recommendations?
I wouldn't try to do anything special - just normal, unobtrusive accessible design. Giving out instructions like "screen readers should use..." just confuses people, and you cannot rely on the title attribute being read by screen reader users anyway (see Title attribute - what is it good for? [sf.id.au]).
If it's an image map then make it accessible with alt text as normal. Even if it's Flash, it can still be made accessible. Rather than "advanced search" I would use a browse link if possible, eg:
"Click the map below to find foo or <a href="foo-browse">browse by region</a>"
It's not just screen reader users who may prefer an alternative search/browse method, so any alternatives should be presented as "normal" content.
IMHO the best solution is to keep it simple: make the landing page accessible then you don't have to worry about arcane meta or link tags, technology-specific instructions or auto redirects.
I don't know if there is any way to make the landing page truly blind accessible. I'll SM you the link, and you'll see what I mean. It's also pretty important that I don't present the alternative page as the landing page.
I'll review the page and see if I can make it a bit better.
I see what you mean (using Google Maps for location based search).
I would provide browse links first (e.g. "Foo in Region 1", "Foo in Region 2", "Foo on Mon, Tue...", "All foo in the X Area" etc, followed by a very simple search eg zip code/place name, then keep the map as a third additional navigation method.
This has two benefits: everyone can browse by the links if they prefer browsing to searching (many do), and it also gives you nice entry points into SEO'd pages for "Foo in Region 1", etc. Plus folks who prefer to use a map still can do so, all from one page.
I think Google Maps is a nice add-on for any site, but the core site should also be highly usable without them - makes it easier to use for both blind and sighted, novice users. HTH.