Hello there. If you are reading this, you have, or at least I hope you have, an interest in accessibility. I'm Jesse. I'm blind, and live in Canada.
I have been using Discord since late August/early September, and straight from the get go I am sad to say that it has been a struggle, for multiple reasons, some of which have changed through time. So lets go through them one by one in what I hope is, a comprehensive guide to what accessibility work needs to be done on the Discord app for IOS (iPhone and iPad).
1. Switching between servers
Before Discord released version 2.4, finding servers was, to say the least, a confusing experience on IOS.
I first started using Discord on my iPad. At the time while I was still learning the quirks of the app from an accessibility standpoint, as a new user finding my server list was more or less impossible.
The reason being is that servers with custom icons confuse voiceover on IOS. The way Discord was, my screenreader could select any of my servers on my iPad. However, none of them were labeled so when selecting, I had no idea what server I was clicking on.
Think of it like this.
You come home one day and find a bunch of bags on your kitchen counter. Your roommate told you that they went out shopping and bought a few bags of chips, one of which you are told is your favourite.
However, upon looking at all the bags on the counter, you discover that none of them have defining marks of any kind. You have no idea which bag is yours, and the only way to find out is to open the bag and eat a few chips out of it to figure out which is which.
The problem with voiceover before version 2.4 was the same, essentially. Voiceover could detect my servers, but it could not read out which was which. Just like you in this analogy, it saw the bags of chips but it couldn't figure out which one was its favourite (the server I wanted to select).
The only way to figure out which server I wanted, was through guesswork, clicking on each one and checking the name that my screenreader can read at the top of the screen (opening each chip bag and taking a bite to see what's in it).
There are two exceptions to this.
The first one is servers without a custom icon. Lets say we have three servers. Two of them have custom icons, and one does not. The one that doesn't is called Materiala Galactica.
My screen reader, when coming across the Materiala Galactica server would read "MG" which, from what I have been brought to understand, would be the letters displayed in the icon. The other two would go without speech, as voiceover cannot identify their names.
The second exception... of sorts, is servers where I have been pinged. If I have been pinged in the Materiala Galactica server, voiceover would read the following as I go through my server list. "MG X" where X is the number of pings I have gotten in that server, be they from my @username, @here or @everyone.
If I am going through my server list and come across a server with a custom image, the only thing that voiceover will read is a number, which tells me that I have been pinged in a server.
Now, post version 2.4, and with the introduction of the ability to relocate servers, the situation has gotten even worse.
After version 2.4, there are NO unlabeled servers. While that sounds like a good thing, it isn't. There are no unlabeled servers because now, voiceover can't even detect those as things I can click on. To return to the previous chips analogy, your friend tells you that they left bags of chips on the counter, but no matter where you look they aren't there.
The only exceptions to this are servers with no custom icons, and servers where I have been pinged. However in the case of pinged servers, as soon as I click on them and read the message that pinged me, if I go to my dm's and then want to switch back to the server I was in moments ago, I have to wait for my phone to notify me that I have been pinged, or that someone posted a message in the server before I can switch back.
2. Labeling overall
The server issue was the most immediate thing, and something I elected to bring up first since the accessibility of switching servers has, rather than increased and gotten easier, decreased and gotten harder. But there is a much more simple, much more basic problem that needs to be addressed.
Probably 80% of the buttons in the Discord app aren't labeled.
With the exception of channel names within servers, the send button, the invite friends button, and the top of the screen which identifies what server and channel you are currently in, nothing else is labeled.
This includes the emoji picker, the photo upload icon, and the... I don't know what these two are called but they are the icons on the top right which allow you to search messages in a server and see a list of who's in a server, who's on/offline and who has what roles.
Again, my screenreader can tell that they are there, but it cannot tell which icon is which.
I am sad to say that this is the case. I am sad to say that many among the blind community consider Discord unusable because of these obstacles. But I am hopeful that we, as a community, can make things right, and improve Discord accessibility. Developers, testers, users, I implore you all. We need to work together to make Discord fully accessible.
I realize that it will not be a quick, easy thing. It will take time. But I know that it can be done. For the devs, if you need help there is an entire community of blind and visually impaired people just waiting to be told that this is a priority for you. All you need to do is say so. If you need help, blind volunteers to test accessibility, there are two very, very popular websites among the blind community that you can post on to get more people volunteering to help you than you'll know what to do with.
Check out audiogames.net and the AppleVis website, AppleVis.com.
Thank you, and lets make this happen!
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