Skip to main content
Calendar CardsPhoto by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

The past few years have brought many changes regarding the ability to book tickets or appointments online. From train travel to appointments in government offices, to specialized clinics or hairdressing services – more and more places offer the option to book visits online. This has many advantages because you don’t have to wait in long queues for registration or the office. You also waste less time waiting for an employee of the company or office to answer the phone.

But how does it look from the perspective of a blind person? I decided to check out a few places that have been offering online reservations for a longer or shorter period.

Train ticket

Link opens in a new window. PKP connections search engine

The option to purchase train tickets online has existed for a long time. In the Polish market, this option has been present longest with the long-distance carrier, PKP Intercity. Over time, other carriers, mostly local ones, also started offering online tickets. Over the years, the connection search engine website has also undergone numerous changes. Sometimes using it was almost impossible, while at other times it was a breeze. But what about today?

In the simplest version, the connection search engine should allow checking available options on the selected route, and then proceed to purchase a ticket for a specific travel option. So, the task is simple: enter the starting and ending stations, date, and time of departure and… oops, something went wrong.

What’s happening?

I enter the carrier’s website. I found the connection search engine. Something appears, some strange letters. Maybe if I click, something will change?

Pressing Enter does nothing. Simulating a click… Something moved. Somehow, I managed to find a field where I can enter the name of the starting station. It wasn’t described – experience and previous visits to the carrier’s website helped me figure out what to do.

But what if there are more than one station in a town? The hint suggests that if I use arrow keys to navigate through some station list, I’ll manage to choose the right one. Unfortunately, the screen reader doesn’t announce anything, so I have no idea if I selected anything. Finally, after about the fifteenth attempt, I managed to correctly select the starting and ending stations.

For a screen reader, those types of website elements are accessibility nightmares and happen quite often. The idea is basically simple: you type in some text fragment, and then the option to choose from the list should appear. The idea is great, but sometimes it doesn’t work with a screen reader. Just getting to the field where you can type text often happens by chance, and the list itself requires repeating the procedure multiple times, literally on “a a hunch”.

Fortunately, the rest of the search engine works quite well because entering the date and time poses no difficulties. The system automatically enters the current date and time, so it’s easy to guess how to do it correctly. Additionally, the screen reader announces an available hint, clearly indicating that date components should be separated by dashes, and that you should enter the 4-digit year first, followed by the 2-digit month and day. Time is also entered by separating the digits with a colon, so it goes really quickly and easily, as you can basically edit this field like any other text.

Visit to the tax office

Link opens in a new window. Tax Office

Arranging a visit to the tax office is probably the last thing you’d want to do, but unfortunately sometimes you have to. I decided to check if I could do it myself online. Unfortunately, I was disappointed because a similar situation occurred on the first page of the form as with the previously discussed connection search engine.

I don’t really know how, but I managed to specify the province where the office is located. Unfortunately, I didn’t locate the office itself because this form didn’t allow me an unlimited number of attempts. After a few attempts, the system redirected me to the Ministry’s main page.

It’s not only frustrating but also disorienting because it happens practically without warning and very quickly. I didn’t immediately realize that something had happened.

Well, fortunately, you can make an appointment by phone for this office, so if necessary, I’ll just call there.

Passport office

Link opens in a new window. Passport Office in Bydgoszcz

The last example for today is the passport office located in the Voivodeship Office. In my case, I tried in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship. You can’t make an appointment by phone, so either you can do it online or you’ll have to wait a few hours in line because people with appointments have priority.

The first page of the form didn’t pose many difficulties because you just had to indicate the purpose of the visit – in my case, applying for a passport. Unfortunately, the next step was less pleasant because it required proving to the reservation system that I’m not a robot. So what am I supposed to do here? Point to some image containing a specific object? I’m blind, so how am I supposed to do that? And where’s the alternative sound task?

Oh, there isn’t one.

So, I won’t be able to choose a visit date. Heck, I won’t even be able to check which dates are available. The date selection buttons will only become active after convincing the system that I’m not a robot-hacker. It’s good to have helpful friends because I’d have to spend many hours at the office to submit an application, which – horror of horrors – must be filled out manually.


As a blind person, it’s difficult for me to recommend specific technical changes. One thing can be said – all the above forms require accessibility improvements. I can’t use these elements without obstacles. Forms and ways to improve their accessibility were excellently described by Radosław in his article. I encourage you to read and implement the improvements – link to the article:

Łukasz Stanik

Łukasz Stanik

Accessibility Specialist