Accessibility for Screen Reader users on Login, and main screens, menus, and ride reports

Greetings,

I am Tim, the Sightless Cyclists, and I am reliant on screen readers due to blindness. Through development of accessible app interfaces for screen readers like JAWS on Windows and VoiceOver on MacOS/iOS, Trainer Road, Wahoo Fitness, Wahoo SYSTM, and Peloton are the only options for indoor cycling training. This excludes individual’s who rely on screen readers to join virtual races and experience the challenging and thrilling environments and cultures that thrives in Zwift.

As a blind cyclist and advocate for disabilities, I understand the importance of accessible interfaces and the benefits they can bring for media releases and potential consumers. Zwift’s inclusion of hand cycles in-game represents a momentous step towards expanding diversity and inclusion initiatives for cyclists with disabilities. the combination of the visuals and in-game dynamics to mimic outdoor experiences captivated the attention of hand cyclists and the general public, proving us with disabilities matter. However this should be viewed as Zwift’s first efforts for inclusion and not the last.

If Zwift adopted the Web Consortium Accessibility Guidelines for mobile app development or similar video game accessibility guidelines, it would allow riders with disabilities to use assistive technologies such as voice or switch controls to navigate the interface. This would benefit cyclists like myself who rely on screen readers to interact with apps, but also create hands-free operation of Zwift for hand cyclists by allowing switch or voice commands to be used. In the Paracycling Facebook group, we had this exact conversation, with one hand cyclist providing their support since his hands are preoccupied with pedaling.

Games like “The Last of Us 2” proves accessibility and video games may go hand in hand. However this comes down to the priorities and willingness for developers to decide whether including us with disabilities through expansion of accessibility options provides the necessary return on investment. In Zwift, this needs to start with the initial login and main screens that are primarily text or icon based. This would resolve the issue on how can Zwift assist us screen readers make it to the start line. For example, as a screen reader user, I relied on Aira and visual assistance from family to navigate these screens and get me into a session. From here, I relied on the Zwift Companion app to monitor various data points, messages, and other surface level interactions.

I am hooked onto Zwift versus power-based training apps thanks to ability to simply ride the ride. The complete Wahoo Kickr setup coupled with Zwift provides a sense of realistic riding that I feel like I have sight again and grinding up a long climb or trying to edge out another rider. I have many finishes as a blind tandem team in gravel events, like Unbound 200mi, but there is something about being able to ride solo that has its own rewards.

Please Zwift with community support, let us come together to see about making the next diversity and inclusion steps by making accessibility in Zwift a reality.
Tim, Sightless Cyclists

Dear Tim,

I am an visual impaired rider. I think the integration of Jaws/Fusion is very difficult, because when you run screenreaders, they affect the pc performance. Therefor I think it would be a great solution to improve the companion app on iphone and android. Now I have to select te route and workout on my pc. When you just start zwift on the PC and control it completely with the companion app that will be a great solution.
Because when you run the tool zwift-login you don’t have to enter anything on your pc anymore. Just start zwift and wait for the connecting sensor screen.

It is possible for the main screens to become accessible with our selected screen readers. Whether its making the actual interface usable with our screen readers, developing the necessary scripts to interact with Zwift, or creating an TTS styled overlay that allows for navigation with arrow keys. This is without looking at the number of highly visual iOS apps designed in a way that either brings VoiceOver support or an overlay. Technically I am able to get through much of Zwift’s interface with VoiceOver’s Screen Recognition to access information and even make it through some of the screens without assistance. However these types of workarounds should not be relied upon as the solution.

Zwift’s research team previously contacted members of various disability communities, including the blindness community, and inquired about what else they can do to enhance inclusion efforts. Accessibility should be one of these items as it has the potential to impact a wider range of individuals more than simply allowing for customization of one’s avatar. My post is to assist with bringing forwards a crucial component for inclusion, accessibility for all.

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I took part in a survey late last year relating to visual impairment which was followed up with a one-on-one interview. Zwift just followed up with another brief survey asking for commentary/views on audio cues, tools used etc. I have referenced this thread and hopefully the Zwift team will reach out to you folks in some way to assist them with their research.

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Dean,
Thank you for referencing this post in the recent discussion. Similar to you, I participated in the survey in late summer 2021, and appreciate Zwift’s willingness to engage with the different communities to gather each of our thoughts and hopes for the platform. I do feel that in time, they will make the necessary updates to enhance accessibility and usability. The best part is one solution for a niche population like us blind and low vision cyclists also impacts others. For example hitting a com segment is a multi-sensory experience, with the visual and auditory cues triggering our desire to compete. Just thinking about the possibilities makes me want to get on the trainer and go for a ride.

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Hi @timothy_Sightless_Cy,

Thank you for your thoughtful post. I’m Tim, a Senior User Experience Researcher at Zwift. As @Dean mentioned, I started leading a research effort (along side a design partner) specifically around making Zwift usable/better for athletes with different degrees of visual impairments.

I have a survey for athletes with different degrees of visual impairments who would like to offer their help, guidance, and feedback around our efforts to make Zwift more accessible. If you’d like to help please fill it out so I get you on my list. The survey can be found here: https://zwift.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2aaTYpNrYeaUuSa

A few days ago I sent a survey to list of athletes to get some more information and feedback that will help with some upcoming design efforts. I’d love to have you complete this survey when you can. It can be found here: https://zwift.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9XhjPa0itPbuSMu

Thanks again,

tim

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Tim,
Thank you very much for the links and I appreciate that the efforts to determine the best pathways forwards remains alive. This has been my biggest concern, the potential elimination of accessibility updates from the developer’s priority list. I have completed both survey and will share them within my networks. If there is anything else that can be done, please share, and I will do my best to support.

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