So my thoughts on this.
I’m on he fence really. I’m on Linux using Orca (which is the built in screenreadr) and it is seriously lacking, at least on my machine, for table navigation.
My main issues are two fold
First off. I don’t know where I am in a thread since there’s no easy way to keep track of individual posts. I can’t jump directly to the nexxt post in a thread, instead I need to scroll past all the add reply/bookmark/share a link/etc things to get to a new post
The layout is, for me at least, a mess of buttons and links everywhere. If things had headings, such as okay, heading 1 for the top bar, heading 2 for the first post in a topic, and heading 3 for each successive post I could live with that since it’d allow a screenreader user to quickly jump from one post to another without being caughtg up in all the clutter such as sharing links, liking posts and bookmarking.
Before I get told oh, do this, this, this, this and this settings wise. No. I shouldn’t have to go tweak a bunch of settings to make Discourse useable on my system.
What Discourse has done is great, really, on paper.
But why must I wade through a billion buttons just to get to a topic, or a thousand links? Okay. I’m exagerrating a bit, but hear me out.
This may be an opinion thing. but. I am used to things like pHP based forums that have headings for most things. So I’ll ask and would like to know if the lack of headings is a design choice or something that can be worked on to improve accessibility?
I’d suggest testing with Windows, Mac and Linux screenreaders, the built in ones for the latter two and NVDA (which can be found at NVaccess.org and Jaws (which you can get a demo version of for evaluating Discourse with for free because the software itself is paid and as much as a Mac), as well as Microsoft’s built in Narrator for Windows.
Phone navigation? I’ll leave that one be since I don’t have a phone with me currently to test. Not all screenreaders treat tables the same way. For example, on this topic, Orca (for me) doesn’t show the thread as a table, only the one that starts with ‘new activity’ in it and it skips completely over the topic and replies. If I go by heading, after going to the very start of a topic (which is a common navigation for screenreader users) it jumps down to the list of recommended topics after the last post, which is flagged as heading level 3.