We aim for the Legal Aid at Work website to be completely accessible to people with the full range of abilities and disabilities. We also intend for the vast majority of our site’s content to be available in Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese, as well as English. The two main purposes of our website are to provide information — about our organization’s services and workers’ legal rights — and to raise awareness of our work among donors and the general public.
NOTE: WCAG 2.0 is not part of any federal statute, and it has not been formally promulgated by any rule-making agency and IT contains many elements that aren’t entirely clear. But in June 2017 a federal court in Florida found that the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA) requires public websites to be accessible and to comply with the guidelines. That ruling (which did not specify a level of compliance) came in the case of Carlos Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., Civil Action No. 16–23020 (S.D. Fla.).
At its core our accessibility policy aims for the site to have four basic characteristics. It should be perceivable, understandable, robust, and operable for all users. That holds true regardless of whether they are using a screen reader or other assistive technology, and regardless of whether they have a visual or auditory impairment, a cognitive, developmental, or motor impairment, or issues with dexterity. Here’s how we define our site’s characteristics:
Perceivable – All users must be able to perceive all information and interfaces on our site in the form in which they’re presented.
Understandable – All users must be able to understand the website and how it works, including its navigation and translation function and the legal resources that it offers to our clients.
Robust – The content on our site has to be strong, clear, and organized in order to be perceived and understood by the fullest possible range of users.
Operable – Our website has to work. This is the most obvious commitment we make, but it is the most significant. We plan to continue improving our ability to meet it.
To ensure that we put those ideas into practice, we took an ability-conscious approach to our website redesign. We apply two basic principles — equality and clarity — as we add or edit content. Here’s what that means:
Ability-conscious design — Our design team included accessibility among its core design principles, just like any other design criterion. This means that, by design, our site:
- uses high-contrast color combinations, in text and images;
- works the same way on mobile and desktop devices;
- uses natural language wherever possible, instead of leaning on abbreviations or complex syntax or all-capital letters to draw attention;
- has a clear series of headings (H1, H2, etc.), and uses them in order;
- contains a minimum of purely decorative elements (mainly banner photos on the pages and boxed photos to highlight links to additional resources that clients may find helpful and to highlight for media coverage and blog posts about our organization); and
- limits the use of PDFs to those that contain unique information (any new PDFs that we add will be screen-reader accessible, and we are updating all others).
Equality — Separate solutions or avenues to information for people of different abilities are unacceptable. When content is not yet accessible, or is not fully accessible, we have explained why and estimated when it will be.
Clarity — We strive for our whole site to be well written and designed. We employ active, economical, and evocative language to convey clear and unambiguous information. The design and its implementation are intended to make the website easy to navigate and digest, as well as pleasing to look at.
Here are some notes on individual types of content and specific portions of the site:
- Photos, other images, and graphics:We minimize the use of alt-tags on photos because photos (as mentioned) are decorative. We tag only images that convey information not readily available in the text and URL language. For instance, if a photo depicts a specific person or serves more than a design purpose, it is tagged with the same information that appears in the attached caption.
- Buttons, including on videos: In general, buttons that users click to go to a different page or another website are accessible to all. But some videos include buttons (plus some extraneous text) that are visible only to screen readers, and that’s pretty confusing. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.
- Tables: We have eliminated all but one table because tables (and graphic representations of calendars) are not readily digested using a screen reader. The only table remaining on our site appears on the clinics page and displays the income guidelines we follow in determining clients’ eligibility for our services. To obtain the information in this table, please call the clinic line at 415-864-8208.
- PDFs: A few are still undergoing modifications. Please call 415-864-8848 with any questions or concerns about PDFs you find on the site.
- Videos: We are adding closed-captioning to videos that lack subtitles. If you find videos that lack subtitles or captioning, and you have questions about the content, please call us at 415-864-8848, so that we may connect you with an adviser.
- Interactives and plugins: We are in the process of making our interactive tools accessible. If you have questions regarding these tools, call us at 415-864-8848.
We know that visitors’ experiences can vary. We would like to hear any comments and suggestions you have, especially if you have found that a portion of the site is not accessible.
Please call us at 415-864-8848, or contact our implementation partners at the Center for Accessible Technology. Reach them here: http://www.cforat.org/contact_us/