Web in the modern age has changed a lot since the early days. It is now commonplace for websites, app builders and any other screen-based technology to be created to strict accessibility standards. The same is true for intranets – as workplaces become more inclusive to all kinds of disability, so too must the tools being implemented.
What is accessibility?
Accessibility is the practice of making web material usable by as many people as possible. This is normally aimed at people with disabilities, but it can also apply to those using mobile devices, or those with slow network connectivity.
Typically, accessibility measures concern four key areas of disability:
- Visual impairment
- Audio impairment
- Movement impairment
- Cognitive impairment
There is a universal standard for web accessibility called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The current set of guidelines is known as WCAG 2.0, and web content can adhere to these guidelines to A, AA, or AAA level.
How is accessibility achieved?
There are some areas of accessibility that lend themselves more naturally to the web than others. An obvious example of this is visual accessibility – web content is predominantly a visual experience. There are aspects of the other impairments that also affect web content accessibility. Here are some examples of accessible best practices featured across all SMLWRLD intranets:
1. Font Sizes
All font sizes are connected to browser settings. This allows visually impaired users to change the font settings on their browser, and the intranet will follow suit.
2. Dark and High Contrast modes
Dark mode provides a viewing option that results in less eye strain even for well-sighted users. For visually impaired users, a high contrast mode gives maximum visibility, with a minimum of 80% contrast between foreground and background colours. Here are some examples from the SMLWRLD Advanced intranet.
3. Text alternatives – for screen readers
All images are provided with “alt-text”. This is a textual description of what the image shows, and is used by screen readers to announce to blind users what is on the screen.
4. Semantically correct HTML
The correct partitioning of HTML documents into sections, paragraphs, headings, etc allows screen readers and their users to more accurately interpret what is happening on the page.
5. Keyboard and Touch
For some users with mobility impairment use of a mouse might prove difficult, and so it is important that the intranet still functions via use of the keyboard. This means that hitting TAB or ENTER should enable logically navigating around the page, and interacting with any features.
Other mobility-impaired users might prefer to use touch interfaces. In which case the intranet should be fully operable via touch interactions with the screen. This is clearly an important consideration too for users of mobile and other touch devices.
There are many ways in which accessibility can be brought into a modern workplace – and our web-based tools are certainly part of that effort. SMLWRLD intranets are fully WCAG 2.0-compliant, and we strive to keep on improving our offering to users with any kind of impairment.