This article is about accessibility as it relates to the SmartSimple platform. We believe that all people with a diverse range of sight, hearing, movement, and cognitive ability should be able to use the platform, and we strive to ensure anyone can access your system in a way that respects their dignity and independence. This article contains information related to ensuring your system is accessible.
If you have questions or encounter anything that seems like an accessibility issue, please contact our support team.
Accessibility - Essentials
A disability in web accessibility terms is a condition or barrier that limits a person from interacting with or accessing information or functionality of a web application. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 5 people have a disability. Disabilities are generally classified into 4 areas.
This classification includes people with low vision and the completely blind as well as people with color blindness or other visual impairments. Many people develop vision loss due to aging and other factors.
This classification includes the deaf and those with a range of hearing loss. Many people develop hearing loss due to aging and other factors.
This classification includes people with Cerebral Palsy, Quadriplegia and a range of restricted movement. Many people develop arthritis and restricted movement due to aging and other factors.
This classification includes people with developmental delays, dyslexia, autism, ADHD, Down syndrome. This classification may be expanded to include Non-native speakers and the elderly.
Assistive technologies are anything used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities. Assistive technologies empower us to overcome or remove a disability. Some common assistive technologies include: Eye tracking devices, switches, sip and puff devices, refreshable braille keyboards, screen readers and screen magnifiers.
Common screen readers include:
- JAWS (Job Access with Speech)
- NVDA screen reader
- Apple’s OS X VoiceOver
- Google’s Chromevox
- Android Talkback
One of the ways these screen readers differ is that mobile devices typically use a gesture-based user interface whereas desktops use a keyboard-based interface.
Guidelines and Legislation
Guidelines and legislation are constantly evolving and vary depending on your locality. Below are some prominent guidelines and legislation. Visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_accessibility for more information.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG for short, is a set of international standards, published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These standards contain a set of guidelines with testable success criterion. Essentially there are four guiding principles in WCAG.
- Is it Perceivable: Can I perceive the Interface and information presented?
- Is it Operable: Can I navigate and operate the application?
- Is it Understandable: Can I understand the information presented and how to use the system?
- Is it Robust: Can I use a variety of assistive technologies with the system?
Visit https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/ to learn more.
Web Accessibility Initiative - Accessible Rich Internet Applications or ARIA for short. Aria is a set of specific recommended standard for developers. ARIA is generally intended to increase accessibility of web pages with dynamic content and newer user interface components.
Visit https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/aria/ to learn more.
Section 508 (USA)
Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act generally requires federal agencies to provide information in an accessible way.
Visit https://www.section508.gov/ to learn more.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) generally requires US-based organizations to provide access to information for people with disabilities and prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.
Visit https://www.ada.gov/ to learn more.
EU Web Accessibility Directive
European Union (EU) Directive on the Accessibility of Websites and Mobile Applications Generally states Public sector organisations across the EU must adhere to WCAG. Websites and apps must comply with EN 301 549 accessibility requirements.
Visit http://nda.ie/Publications/Communications/EU-Web-Accessibility-Directive/ to learn more.
AODA (Ontario, Canada)
Testing for accessibility
The SmartSimple platform is tested for accessibility by a 3rd party (a completely blind computer user) and we also test the system internally. Primary testing is done with the JAWS screen reader.
Download our Voluntary Product Accessibility Template https://www.smartsimple.com/agreements.html
There are a number of free and easy to use tools you can use to test your configuration of the SmartSimple system. Here are three popular browser extensions:
Wave toolbar - annotates possible problems inline and recommended fix. https://wave.webaim.org/extension/
Tenon - display code snippets, guidelines and recommended fix. https://tenon.io/
Google Lighthouse - provides an accessibility audit and recommended fix. https://developers.google.com/web/tools/lighthouse/
Beyond automated testing
If you want to go beyond automated testing tools, you may consider the following:
- Create your own user group of testers. A group of five people testing often will yield good results.
- Look into getting a 3rd party audit.
Accessibility - Advanced
If you are a SmartSimple System Administrator you have a role to play in ensuring the configuration of your system is accessible. Here is a list of important information to note when you setup or modify any SmartSimple system.
If you are adding a link or a button inside your system never say click here! A user with a screen reader tabs from link to link and they will have no idea what will happen when the link is read out of context. Links must be descriptive (describe destination, state the purpose or what will happen). Examples of good links and button text are: “view demo”, “start application”, “enter budget”, “visit Wikipedia”
Form tables properly
Mark table headers with TH and table data with TD. Consider adding scope (col, colgroup, row, rowgroup) to headers and a caption. Ensure your content is machine readable by assistive technologies by utilizing the proper semantic structures. Also make sure you nest your tags properly, example if you open a TR close a TR, if you open a SPAN inside a TD make sure you close the SPAN before you close the TD. Example:
Example: in TH tag add scope="col" or scope="row".
Go to https://webaim.org/techniques/tables/data to learn more.
The system will automatically declare the language of each system generated page, but if you add a static page in a SmartFolder you need to declare the language.
Example in the HTML tag add lang="en" for English and lang="es" for Spanish.
Go to https://www.w3docs.com/learn-html/html-language-codes.html to learn more.
Use title bars (headings) and tabs
Chunk out content using the title bar custom field. These function as headers. This way a user of assistive technology can quickly jump or skip content to get from one section to another. You may also want to opt for longer pages instead of many tabs. Some users find it is easier to scroll down then to navigate using tabs.
Contrast ratio of text and background
The contrast ratio of text to background color must be 4.5 or more to meet WCAG guidelines. You can check color combinations with this tool. http://leaverou.github.io/contrast-ratio/ Be extra careful if you are placing text over an image as the same rules apply. Visit this article to learn more about changing your systems colors. https://wiki.smartsimple.com/wiki/Branding
Don't only use color to convey meaning
If you add custom content to your system you cannot use color alone to convey meaning as a color-blind user will not be able to see the difference. Make sure any custom content has accompanying text or divide the content up in another way.
Include text alternatives for media
If you are uploading any media to your system, such as an instructions video, you must include closed captioning or a text alternative such as a transcript. You can do this with the multi file upload custom field and the media library settings. If you are uploading static content to a SmartFolder, make sure you include alt tags for your media such as images. Alt text must describe the purpose or intent of the media.
Write for web applications
When writing text instructions or captions or any other text-based content that will appear in your system, keep the following in mind:
- Use the clearest language possible and avoid jargon
- Chunk content into small parts
- Keep sentences under 25 words
- Keep it concise, the more you write, the less likely it is to be read
- Check the reading level of your content. Microsoft Word has a built-in readability check plus there are sites like https://readable.io/ that will check your readability and give you suggestions.
Do not use location, text size or color alone to mark important information or secondary information. A user with a screen reader is not going to know the second column with smaller text is less important. Whenever possible use a single column layout for usability and to ensure there is no confusion over reading order. This is also helpful for people using screen magnifiers.
Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA) is used to ensure robots don’t spam websites with requests. But be judicious when adding CAPTCHA to your system. Although SmartSimple uses the latest reCAPTCHA which is consider accessible, it can be frustrating to all users.
If you choose to setup a session timeout to ensure connections are not left open, remember assistive technology users may take three times longer to complete a task than other users. SmartSimple will automatically alerts users and give them an option to continue working, but try to set your session timeout to something long enough to accommodate all users.
If you are using the media library functionality with the multiple file upload field, or if you have injected video into other areas of the system, you will notice videos and music do not auto play. Screen-readers navigate by listening, so any sound playing when the page loads would interfere immensely. An exception to this is, if the user specifically requested the video. If you upload your own content or static content into your system ensure it does not auto play. Also, note that content should not flash more than three times in a second as it may induce seizures due to photosensitivity.
If you are adding static content to a SmartFolder make sure you include a page title tag with some meaningful content.