Accessibility Review

Accessibility Review

This expert accessibility review was conduced on behalf of Library of Things and examined a key customer journey: landing on the home page, adding a product to the cart, and checking out. The accessibility review considered a range of users with different needs, including sensory, physical, and cognitive impairments. The intent of the review was to provide guidance to Library of Things concerning the most important accessibility issues customers might face and suggest fixes to those issues. Ensuring equal access to the Library of Things website has the potential to expand Library of Things’ customer base, strengthen the organization’s mission, and remove barriers to participation.

Method

Dates of ReviewOctober-December 2020
Website NameLibrary of Things
Pages ReviewedHome, Browse the Things, Cordless Jigsaw, Cart, Checkout, Choose Dates modal, See Availability modal
WCAG VersionWCAG 2.1
Conformance TargetLevel AA

The web pages were reviewed on a Mac using Safari and Chrome. Standard tools aided in the accessibility review process. WAVE Evaluation Tool, a Chrome extension developed by WebAIM that aligns with WCAG 2.1 guidelines, was used to conduct an automated check on each page. This was used as a starting point for testing several criteria including structure, contrast, language attributes, labelling, and alternative text. VoiceOver on Safari was used to assess the pages’ functionality with a screen reader from the perspective of users with visual impairments. The Elements, Styles, and Accessibility panels in Chrome development tools were used to check specific factors in the HTML and CSS such as labelling, structure, and HEX codes used across pages. Checks were also performed using page zoom and font size in Chrome appearance settings and Easy Window Resize extension for Chrome.Because WCAG 2.1 only covers content, such as images, text, structure, and presentation, WAI-ARIA 1.1 (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) was used to review accessibility and suggest fixes related to dynamic content and advanced user interface controls.

The accessibility review was conducted methodically across the given scope. Each interface element was manually inspected to determine if a WCAG 2.1 guideline applies and if the element passes or fails. WebAIM’s WCAG 2 Checklist was referenced to aid in the comprehensiveness of the review and recommendations provided. Next, pages were cross checked for consistency and predictability, and to establish how many pages in the key customer journey are affected by a given issue. This enabled a consolidation of issues, rating of the severity of each issue, and prioritization of the issues included in this review.

Accessibility Severity Scale

The severity scale used in this review was adapted from Nielson Norman Group’s Severity Ratings for Usability Problems and Userfocus’ Severity Level Decision Tree, both of which measure usability problems. These scales were adapted to assess the severity of accessibility issues based on whether the problem occurs during a frequent or critical task, the impact of the problem in terms of number of potential users impacted and how difficult the problem is to overcome for those specific users, and the persistence of the problem.

CriticalUrgent to fix: this accessibility problem will make some users unable to complete a common task.
SeriousImportant to fix: this accessibility problem will significantly slow down some users when completing a common task.
MinorLow priority: this accessibility problem will frustrate some users but does not affect task completion.
CosmeticBonus fix: this accessibility problem refers to quality or cosmetics and should only be fixed if extra time is available.

Findings

Fourteen accessibility issues were included in the findings presented to Libary of Things, arranged into four categories – Interaction, Presentation, Navigation, and Structure – then sorted by severity. Four issues were rated “Severe”, meaning they prevent groups of customers from completing important tasks on the site and are of the highest priority to address: appropriately labelling the interaction required to select reservation dates, alerting assistive technologies to error messages, raising contrast ratios, and improving readability when pages are highly magnified. Less urgent recurring issues, including heading structure, mark-up of user interface controls, and keyboard focus, were also described in detail, along with examples and suggested fixes.

A full report of findings is available to view upon request.

Created for INM313 Inclusive Design (PRD1 A 2020/21) as part of MSc HCID at City, University of London and awarded a distinction.

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