Accessibility: It’s never too early to consider
By Kristen Smith-O’Connor, Senior 508 Accessibility Analyst
WebAim performed a survey on a million home pages and found a substantial number of issues centered around what testers would call “easy-picking” tests; those that take little effort to test and where - as a tester - you are sure to find a failure. The top failures were low contrast, images without alternative text, empty links, missing form input buttons, empty buttons, and lack of document language.
Years ago, a colleague was discussing failures from an application and she started her explanation of issues with “This is my favorite test! Let’s talk about color contrast.” For the testers out there, you might share the same sentiment whereas development teams are mortified. As an accessibility SME, color contrast and alternative text are the two items that come up across every ICT type and are seemingly very easy fixes for the content developer. But a team worked hard to select those colors and create the perfect graphic so a simple fix for a tester could cause an entire re-design for that team. I was testing a native app a while back and the entire color scheme did not meet color contrast. When the report was received, the response was: “Wait, we must change our entire graphical design and color scheme?!”
And so, we started from the beginning, with accessibility front and center when it came to color choices and wireframe designs. Over the years I’ve seen that one huge gap in accessibility awareness lies in what graphic designers and content developers take into consideration up front – even when creating documents and PowerPoint presentations. There is never content small enough to not consider accessibility. When we begin to think about awareness, the biggest point to stress is this: when you begin development of any ICT, bring your accessibility team in at the beginning (it’s really never too early to engage them) and engage them throughout your development lifecycle (even if it’s for a document!).
To help know where to start, New Editions has created four Quick Guides for creating:
- Accessible Excel Documents
- Accessible PDF Documents
- Accessible PowerPoint Presentations
- Accessible Word Documents
New Editions also developed brief tutorials for NCRTM’s Accessibility Resources to help guide you through creating, testing, and fixing inaccessible content.