Monday, June 22, 2020

Ravelry and accessibility - the bloated blog post

Important note

Although this post is about a year and a half old, it does get updated from time-to-time. (Yes, Ravelry's accessibility issues are still a problem, and no, they have not been resolved.) 

Last time any sections were updated was May 3, 2022 9:02pm ET.

What this is all about

On June 16, Ravelry launched a new look. This was over a year in the making, and the team behind the site worked really hard and spent money and all the usual other things you would expect for such a huge project. Unfortunately, it became pretty immediately obvious that the site was not accessible, even beyond the usual ways that companies miss on accessibility - there have been reports of nausea, headaches, and even seizures because of the new UX (user experience). As well, it's been reported that the new site is much more unusable with screenreaders. There have also been reports that the new look plays havoc with the mobile experience: example 1, example 2.

Most importantly, THE ACCESSIBILITY PROBLEMS CAUSING PHYSICAL HARM HAVE NEVER BEEN FIXED. Moreover, the most effective tool for enabling people to continue to use Ravelry harm-free was removed.

To be clear: Some things were improved soon after the launch of the redesign; the Ravelry staff kind of listened to some of the accessibility problems at first. But improvement was slow, small, and grudging, and the most serious accessibility issues are still in place, despite publicly-made declarations that accessibility is important and statements that they would try to hire an accessibility consultant. (They have not hired an accessibility consultant.) 

The Ravelry staff have, in fact, claimed not only that many of the reported accessibility issues don't exist, but that the new version of the site is "the most accessible version of Ravelry ever". Apologies for this behaviour have since been issued, but the most serious accessibility issues remain in place. That's a brief summary on the extremely problematic approach that Ravelry has taken to the entire situation; see 'Ravelry's problematic response' in the informational categories further down to read more.


This is obviously very disappointing on a number of levels. For one thing, I don't want people to be hurt. As well, I don't want people to be edged out of using an incredibly useful site. Not just crafters, but also, for many fibre-related businesses, Ravelry as a selling and/or marketing channel has been essential over the years.

(Incidentally, as a designer, I noticed that activity on Ravelry around my designs - likes, queues, etc. -  noticeably tanked after the redesign was launched.)

Other resources about the whole situation in general and what accessibility is:

Informational categories


WendyKnits said...

Thank you for the tips! I was quite horrified to hear about the harm the new site was causing. Fortunately for me, I simply find it annoying and glarlingly white/bright. My other issue is with all the new icons, which are so tiny I can't figure out what they are supposed to represent. I searched for a bit for some key to the new icons to no avail. It may just be my aging eyes, but I expect I'm not the only one with the issue!

Marion said...

Thanks for these notes! I'm going to be downloading my library onto a memory stick when I've acquired one.

Just a little heads-up: in your 'What you can do' section, 3rd bullet point, last sentence - shouldn't that be 'you should always get the main patterns page in the OLD look'?

Elsa said...

This is a very helpful post, thank you.

People should be aware that as the feedback form can only be accessed while you are logged in, it is NOT anonymous. This is particulary important as they are asking directly if people have a disability that affects how they use the internet, and then ask for further information. As of this afternoon they added a disclaimer saying that the information will not be shared outside the Ravelry staff, and will "eventually" be destroyed, but no time frame is given.

Zealot said...

Thanks for this. I signed both petitions and was finally able to turn off animation on my phone. They certainly hid that option well.

Now we just have to hope that TPTB at Ravelry stop nursing their wounded egos and do something to fix the problem. I won't be using NuRav when they cut off Classic unless they address the problems. It's not worth getting sick.

Thanks again and happy crafting everyone.

Nadaya Cross said...

Thank you so much for a summary of the issues that have happened with NuRav. I have been following the situation on Instagram, outraged and pained with each passing day. I am privileged that I do not experience any barriers with the new design, but I cannot tolerate the lack of communication, gaslighting, and willful ignorance (seemingly) from the Ravelry team. I started a blog where I can journal my projects, and I honestly needed an outlet for my thoughts. I will be looking at the resources that you provided for alternatives to Ravelry. I want to close my Ravelry account, but I haven’t yet because the idea is still painful and I don’t have the courage just yet.

Again, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your summary, links and the tips— I’d assumed that my eyes were tired from working online & that this was why I’d developed nausea and a headache with the new, brighter white screen and animation which surprised me. I assumed that my vision was responsible for my difficulty with the smaller icons (so ditto, aging & overworked eyes noted above!), and so was relieved to return to ‘Classic’ when that was offered. I’d minimized my time on the site & so not aware of the wider issues/responses, however there’s amble historical evidence of technology having unintended consequences— sunlight through poplar trees along a roadway when the automobile was first invented inadvertently caused seizures for some people (a precursor of strobe lights inducing seizures), fluorescent lights have caused migraines, blue spectrum light measurably impacts endogenous melatonin— and that’s just off the cuff. I hope that ravelry is able to find experts who are able to meaningfully help them amend the site so that it’s able to be enjoyed by all. I also appreciate the tips about how to secure your Ravelry pattern library and stash as I’m concerned that if/when ‘classic’ is done away with, I will selfishly need to find other options. I’ve signed the petition about the ADA, however the other petition had closed.

Anonymous said...

I'm proud of your stance! Many of us are trying to avoid Ravelry for other reasons as well. Also, buried within their community has always been some undesirable things. When I spoke up on this not long after they started the site, I discovered how rude and arrogant the owners were. I really wish Ravelry now had some serious competition so that all of us could get completely away from it.

Velynda Wilson said...

I love this! I am neurodivergent (dyslexic, dysgraphia, dyscalculia) The new Ravelry has caused sensory issues and confusion for me. My daughter, who is also neurodivergent, and I have been fighting for recognition for neurodiversity in an ongoing battle with Pinterest. I also have POTS syndrome with the new Ravelry site I seem to find an increase in the cognitive impairment. I have been looking for a user friendly alternative so I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrea said...

Hi! Thanks for this list!

A year ago, with the help of my hubby, I also came up with a solution that changes the CSS in the page to remove those black lines. I wrote a whole blog post about it. This way, I can continue to post patterns without getting migraines.

I don't know if people will use it, but maybe you can add it to the list of workarounds...

For The Love Of A Horse said...

A comment on Ravelry..why tht site cant divide n conquer is sad. Simple and straight forward. Less fuss. More focus on less. it is not. Why not YOU?? I can understand u bc its one thg at a time. Thts common sense to me. Yes Im old school. Proud of it.