An accessible website is a must for schools and districts--not just because of the requirements outlines in the American with Disabilities Act and Section 504, but because everyone deserves a great web browsing experience, no matter what disabilities they may have. It's easy to forget that the end goal is to improve access to online content when you're bogged down in the details of WCAG. Global Accessibility Awareness Day, established in 2012, challenges designers and developers (that's us!) to focus on making digital content more accessible and inclusive of people with different disabilities. By taking some time to experience digital accessibility for ourselves, we can come to appreciate the effect we can have on millions of people around the world with some level of disability.
Edlio challenged all team members, from sales to developers and tech support to the chiefs, to complete one hour doing one of the following activities:
- Go mouseless - ditch the mouse and navigate through an Edlio website or one of your favorite sites using just your keyboard (here's how). Tip: use Chrome for this!
- Use a screen reader - stash the mouse AND navigate using only a screen reader. Apple has a built-in tool called VoiceOver to use (CMD + F5 to enable or disable).
- Check color contrast - Review a website to check for color contrast using a tool like WebAIM's contrast checker. Is it still readable?
- BONUS: Check the order of elements - view a site without CSS to see if a screen reader can still easily read the page. Screen readers read code in the order it is presented, so by disabling CSS you can see if your site's code is readable to screen readers.
Sounds easy, right? Well, maybe not - our team members had a tricky time completing the challenges!
After completing the hour of accessibility, our team members had a lot to say:
Q: How was your experience?
"Most sites I use daily were fine; some I was even able to navigate faster using keyboard shortcuts alone. However, the rest were really bad and some didn't even work. I had originally planned to do the whole day, but after the hour I realized I wasn't going to get any work done."
"It was difficult and took longer to do everything."
"It was pretty difficult and took more time to click what you needed to."
"Very difficult to navigate and access all content."
"I have to say it was pretty frustrating trying to navigate around on a website with only a screen reader. I was not able to tab to the parts I wanted to visit and often got stuck on other areas on the website."
Q: If you went mouseless, was there content you could not access?
78% of participants said "yes" and 22% said "no".
Q: Has your view of the need for accessible websites changed?
"Nope, I understand the need." (ed. note: awesome!)
"This makes me much more aware of how much a need this is for school websites. There is a huge need for content to be accessible."
"Yes, it's shown me how important it is to make websites as accessible as possible for every user."
"Most definitely! At first, I could only imagine how hard it could be but to experience the limitations and frustrations first hand, certainly allowed me to have a great appreciation for an accessible website."
We know that as a software company, we can have a direct impact on accessibility. Today's Global Accessibility Awareness Day was really eye-opening for our team, and we're definitely committed to pushing forward with accessibility. To see what we've done so far, see our page on accessibility