Today is the 12th Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), an annual opportunity to highlight the importance of web accessibility and recognize the progress made. With new technologies and standards emerging, it’s easier each year to create inclusive digital experiences. Erin* has more to say about this below!
Hop Studios is firmly committed to being part of this effort, constantly improving our expertise so we can make the digital world more inclusive, one project at a time.
Web accessibility is about more than just “being in compliance”; it is how we ensure universal access to the information and services used by people of all abilities. There are over a billion individuals living with disabilities, so it is not just polite or preferred, it’s actually crucial to make sure our digital spaces make perception, interaction and navigation possible for all.
Accessible websites empower people to access education, seek employment, participate in community, and engage with services online. Accessibility benefits the aging population and those using assistive technologies. And if social responsibility isn’t enough of a reason, web accessibility is also a strategic advantage – the greater number of users who can fully and easily access your website, the more customers, subscribers, volunteers, etc., you will have.
Over the past few years, Hop Studios has conducted accessibility audits and improvements for numerous organizations.
For instance, we collaborated with Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) to enhance compatibility with assistive technologies, optimized their navigation, and improved their color contrast.
The Big Joy Project benefited from our comprehensive accessibility audit, and we improved alt text, keyboard navigation, and semantic markup.
We made improvements to legal firm PortaLaw: their site’s readability, form labeling, and user experience were all enhanced for a wider audience. For all these projects, we focused on eliminating barriers and enabling broader access to valuable content and services.
* Hi… Erin here for this part! This year for GAAD, I attended a webinar hosted by Deque University. Deque University is the creator of Axe, a browser extension for web accessibility testing. The webinar reminded us of the wide array of incredible tools available, completely free, to improve accessibility and we’d like to share our four favorites with you.
- Let’s start with Deque’s very own tool: Axe. An essential tool for anyone looking to do all kinds of web accessibility testing. The Pro version has many functions that are helpful for users who aren’t developers; they help with revealing issues that would otherwise need to be tested by a developer who’s very educated in accessibility.
- “Colour contrast” is the idea that some combinations of colours are harder to perceive than others, either because of color-specific blindness, or because of overall vision issues. This handy tool is what we use to determine how any particular page is doing on that issue: Contrast checker created by Webaim.
- Screen readers present a web page by reading the content aloud so that folks with visual impairments can use it. Popular screen readers include NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) for Windows, VoiceOver for macOS and iOS, and JAWS (Job Access With Speech) for Windows. Testing your website with screen readers will help you identify usability and accessibility issues.
- Keyboard accessibility is essential to test as well. Some users rely entirely on keyboards for navigation (as opposed to the additional assistance offered by a trackpad or mouse). By ensuring that interactive menus, forms and all other elements can fully used with only a keyboard, you provide users with disabilities** full access to the information and services on your site. The Keyboard Accessibility Testing Guide by WebAIM provides helpful guidance for keyboard testing.
** Or perhaps just someone whose trackpad is broken that day. 😊
The journey towards universal accessibility is ongoing. We celebrate the progress made so far, but we also acknowledge the work that lies ahead. As technology advances, Hop Studios is committed to staying up-to-date in our practices. We will continue to collaborate with organizations and individuals who share our passion for inclusivity, striving to create a digital landscape that welcomes all and leaves no one out. Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day!