loading...

Musings On Accessibility Within Companies

justsharkie profile image /*Sharkie*/ ・5 min read

I've been on the job search for a little while. It's beginning to feel like a sickeningly long time.

And in that time, I've begun to notice some things. One of those things is how some of my local companies don't really seem to grasp accessibility, and how important it truly is to website development and design.

Note

I will not be pointing fingers at any companies, or alluding to anything. This is just some general stuff I've noticed through my own research, job interviews, etc.

I'm also not an accessibility expert! I do believe it's extremely important, and always try to advocate for it, but I most certainly don't know everything and I would never pretend to.

Also, this is based on the WCAG Guidelines, because those are the ones I know pretty much off by heart and like the best.

Keyboard Navigation

One part of my job searching/applying process is to take a peek at a companies website. This gives me a feel for the companies core values, and I can dig into the code and see what's going on in the background.

Mostly, I'm doing this kind of thing on my laptop. And I'm also a lazy twat who uses her keyboard whenever possible to navigate websites. 100% of the websites I've viewed can not be navigated with the keyboard. There is always a point where it breaks, and I can't move any farther, or can't get to a button I was wanting to press. Not a single one was keyboard accessible! I'm constantly shocked at how many company websites don't focus on this, or just assume that it doesn't matter. Usually it can be solved by simply structuring your HTML correctly, and apparently no one thinks about it during the development process.

This may not be the biggest concern, but I believe it should be a concern, and one you think about as you're coding your website. It's really not that hard to implement.

Link to keyboard WCAG rule.

Colour Contrasting

Oh. My. God. Why does NO ONE think about colour contrast?

To be clear, I am not colour blind. But I am always looking to have enough contrast so something can be read clearly by anyone.

Apparently, not many companies are looking for that.

I was in an interview where I was given a few minutes to look at a prototype website and give my opinions on the design. There were multiple sections with dark grey images on a medium grey background. The same colour scheme on the massive footer with the little tiny text links. There was bold red with off white text. All of it was difficult for me to read. Some of the links I had to ask what they said! Imagine what it would be like for someone with sight issues. Or someone with failing sight.

They wouldn't have been able to read 90% of the website.

At this point, there are so many websites where you can check if your colours meet accessibility guidelines and have enough contrast. Please make use of them. They are there to help.

Link to colour contrast WCAG rule.

No JavaScript? No problem?

Another WCAG guideline states that your content needs to be viewable in different ways (ie simpler, without JavaScript, etc.)

The amount of sites I've come across that are chock full of JavaScript, that are basically unreadable without it... it's kind of ridiculous. With all of the little intricacies in different web browsers, and the amount of people who browse without JavaScript or are browsing on bad internet, you'd think you'd consider making your site readable and at least mildly functional without all the bells and whistles. Again, I think this is a case of people not realizing that this should be a concern, and something we think about as we code our sites.

Link to content WCAG rule.

Time Crunch

Slow. Down. Your. Sliders.

I notice this all over the web. People seem to think slideshows need to move quickly so people can see all the content before they scroll down. But instead, it's just moving so quickly there's no time to read the content before it moves to the next! A tip I've learned - can you read the content twice before it changes over? Good, now add another second or two. As the designer/developer, you are so used to reading the content that you can get through it at least twice as fast as someone who has never seen it before.

This isn't exactly in line with the time limit rule, but I like to lump it in there as well. It hinders people from reading your website, and they actually don't get the information they need because things are just moving too quickly.

Though I will also comment on the time limits on some job applications. I'm a quick writer and can usually make it well within the 10 minute limit, but that is much too short a time for someone to answer 5 questions and fill out every field. Double the time. Be nice.

Links to time limits WCAG rule.

Mobile

This is not really in line with any rule, but I needed to include it anyway.

Likely more than half of the users visiting your site are going to be viewing it on a phone. That is a LOT of people. This will obviously vary depending on your user base.

Please, PLEASE make your site responsive.

Normally, I view potential company sites on my laptop. But sometimes, I look them up on my phone. Sometimes I test them out just to see if they are responsive. And at least half of the time, they haven't been. Usually, it's sliders and videos and big complex sections of text that are broken. And they end up being so broken the site isn't viewable on my phone at all.

In this day and age, I honestly view that as a tragedy. But hey, at least it brings up a good talking point for potential interviews, and let's me show a place I could be invaluable to the company.

Conclusion

Not every company is like this, and not all of them fail at all the things I've listed above. Possibly it's because I like to apply for smaller companies, which might not have the biggest budget for web development. Possibly that's the reason they want to bring someone like me into the company!

I've just found it interesting how often I've noticed things not being compliant/not working as they should. It's something I've got ingrained in my brain, so seeing people who don't even think about it kind of shocks me.

And that's that! Please keep all these things in mind as you code your own sites, they really don't take that much time to implement and are invaluable to some people.

Posted on by:

justsharkie profile

/*Sharkie*/

@justsharkie

Spends her days yelling at computers and hoping that helps.

Discussion

markdown guide