This is a guest post by Olivia Najdovski, student at University of Toronto iSchool.
One in five Canadians have a disability. As such, it is critical to consider the accessibility of websites to ensure that they are accessible to all. From October to December, I worked with OurDigitalWorld to conduct an accessibility audit of the VITA Digital Collections Toolkit base site code. The goal of this project was to achieve accessibility for sites as per the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) guidelines. This process involved using WebAIM’s WAVE Browser Extension in addition to manual reviews to flag accessibility issues on the Toolkit sites, using both Safari and Chrome browsers.
More specifically, the manual review involved combing through each individual webpage to pinpoint issues relating to keyboard accessibility and screen-reader compatibility. Some accessibility functionality is built in to the toolkit, like creating alt text for images from their titles, but this review process revealed some key discoveries that, with the web development talents of the ODW team, we were able to resolve.
One issue we resolved across the Toolkit sites was a lack of labelling on buttons. When buttons or links are not accurately labelled, screen readers cannot pick up on what the purpose of that button or link is. Therefore, screen reader users cannot make use of the button, because the screen reader cannot relay what the button does. To remedy this, we ensured that buttons and links were accurately labelled across the toolkit sites, significantly improving the accessibility of the sites for screen reader users.
The great news is that incorporating small changes like labelling buttons and including additional informative alt text for images improved the accessibility and inclusivity of the Toolkit websites. Accessibility is an ongoing process, however, and can be compromised with any client-based content or site changes over time. This is a good step forward in keeping with ODW’s mandate of providing full and inclusive public access to community digital collections.
Some resources for WCAG review:
- WebAIM WCAG 2 Checklist: https://webaim.org/standards/wcag/WCAG2Checklist.pdf
- A demographic, employment and income profile of Canadians with disabilities aged 15 years and over, 2017. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/89-654-x/89-654-x2018002-eng.htm
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2 Level AA Conformance,https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG2AA-Conformance