This past year, MYS has worked on making their directory more accessible for everyone. Since accessibility is a new topic, we want to explain how we have worked to meet this goal. Why is this a relevant issue?
In the United States, an estimated 15-20% of people have a disability or impairment that makes using websites difficult. Challenges range from people who are unable to read small text to individuals who use a screen reader or keyboard to navigate the web. Even well-built websites and applications will not meet the needs of these individuals without additional design and development work. To meet the needs of our entire audience, we are following guidance from WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). These guidelines make websites easier for everyone to use no matter how people access them.
What have we accomplished so far?
One design aspect of accessibility is color contrast. A good example involves buttons, which use color for the button text and background. If a button’s text and background colors are too similar, then the text will be hard to read. For the directory, that means testing each theme we create. Now when we create themes based on an event’s artwork, we test to make sure that the color combinations meet accessibility guidelines.
WCAG does not specify exact rules for font sizes, but text can be too small to be easily read. We have increased the size of our smallest text to improve legibility.
Under the Hood
Beyond design, many of the improvements center on screen readers. Screen readers help people with impaired vision in two ways. They can translate what is on screen to speech, or work with hardware to provide braille for the text and content onscreen. This can be hard to understand so here is an example. Without additional code, screen readers cannot understand a photograph. Alternate text must be added to provide a description to screen readers to describe the photograph.
In 2021, accessibility will continue to be included into our design and build processes. We will continue making improvements until we have met all the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.