Breaking down design at Perth’s Web Accessibility Camp

Did you know that accessible websites have better search results and increased audience engagements? All the more reason why companies and organisations should be making their website design inclusive to all.

Leading experts in access and web design gathered at VisAbility for this year’s annual Web Accessibility Camp. It was held in conjunction with the Centre for Accessibility and Web Key IT Pty Ltd.

Group photo of attendees at the Web Accessibility Camp

For the first time ever, people could access the event by Zoom or in person. International and interstate delegates delivered their presentations remotely.

The grand design (building an accessible website)

Matthew Putland (L) & Chris Leighton (R)

In the audience were people from the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). Also present were representatives from government agencies, disability groups and tech organisations. All keen to learn new insights and share knowledge.

Making online learning more accessible during the pandemic and new additions to the latest version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.2) were key discussions.

Guest speakers on web accessibility

From the USA, Bill Kasdorf and Shawn Henry from W3c shared different aspects of their work. Bill provided an insight into the importance of creating an accessibility friendly publishing ecosystem using EPUB3. Shawn outlined new resources for accessible videos, remote and hybrid meetings, presentations and training.

Dr Scott Hollier from the Centre for Accessibility spoke of the lessons learned from the impact of lockdowns from the pandemic regarding accessibility and keeping students engaged.

The updated web accessibility guidelines, known as WCAG 2.2, came under the spotlight. General Manager of Web Key IT Amanda Mace shared her thoughts on what has changed and why the guidelines are needed.

Accessibility Designer Chris Leighton from the University of Western Australia spoke about the use of buttons on websites and tools to audit websites.

“I commend a lot of the private companies such as Rio Tinto and BHP. Their sites are very inclusive, but I still think we fall short with many government and agency websites. These are the ones most read by people with a print disability, so it’s alarming how many are still behind,’’ Chris explains.

A staple of the Web Accessibility Camp is the ‘Great Debate’. This year was the importance of accessibility during a global pandemic.

Audio description (AD) and its application in performing arts was highlighted by Jacqueline Homer from DADAA.

Digital Accessibility Consultant Matthew Putland from Vision Australia spoke about the latest accessible app technology.

“A screen reader will navigate the words and content on an app differently than on a website, which means app developers need to be aware of the challenges.’’

The VisAbility rebrand story

Alan Jennings, Key2 Creative (L) & Vithya Vijayakumare (R)

The Web Accessibility Camp also included a presentation by our own Accessibility Specialists Vithya Vijayakumare and David Vosnacos, along with Marketing Manager Danielle Gault.

Due to our core audience of people living with some form of vision impairment, It took eighteen months to make the new VisAbility brand and website as accessible as possible. It was developed with the team from Key2Creative.

Clients were invited to give their feedback on the proposed design. The new branding and website had to conform to a WACG 2.1 AA compliance standard.

Areas of consideration included:

  • Clear and logical design of website
  • Ease of navigation
  • Use left alignment for clear spacing around the letters and words
  • High colour contrast throughout
  • Easy to read and accessible sans serif font
  • No italics to emphasis content with bold text instead
  • No underlining other than hyperlinks
  • Short sentences that can be easily understood
  • Structured headings
  • Descriptive hyperlinks
  • Camel case throughout
  • Describe images for website and any related content

Website evaluation

As Marketing Manager Danielle Gault, explains the brand design had to be ‘strong, simple, contemporary, legible and accessible’. The brand needed to be highly functional for people with print disabilities. Consideration was given to how the website was accessed (website or mobile phone), email signatures, electronic documents and printed materials.

Vithya spoke of the importance of colour palette, so it met the WCAG standards. This led to the development of an Accessibility Checklist for ongoing reference.

“The brand’s colour chart involved 12 colours plus black and white. We established what combinations worked well from a branding and accessibility perspective. We wanted it to be WCAG 2.1 AAA compliant,’’ explains Vithya.

“Through a combination of automated and manual testing by VisAbility staff with a print disability, we were able to identify any issues through the design process,’’ she adds.

Graphically challenged

The graphic posed challenges with use of colour and specific shapes as David highlighted.

“People with a print disability have different methods of accessing printed information. It meant we had to assess how the graphic would be interpreted if they were using assistive technology like text to speech.’’

VisAbility has played host to this event for the past three years. It’s one of the keynote access events on the calendar, so is a great opportunity to model and showcase latest accessibility developments.

David Vosnacos, Master of Ceremonies, said it was quite different from previous ones.

“When you have delegates presenting from different locations in different time zones it throws up challenges. Those attending virtually shared refreshments with those physically present from what the organising committee had arranged.’’

To find out more about how we can help with all your access requirements visit VisAbility’s Accessible Information. We offer a range of services and resources, so why not get in touch with us today?