A couple of days ago, I spoke at the php conference. Artemis Senior Developer, Mike, spoke about his experience at this truly amazing broad-based conference last week. I wholeheartedly agree with Mike that it is worth attending this annual conference due to the variety of talks and speakers.
From the standpoint of a speaker, my focus was not only attending a wide variety of sessions but also be to able to impart my experience to help as many people as possible. I spoke about the current state of accessibility of websites, the WCAG 2.0 standard, and how Artemis had helped one of its key Federal Government clients achieve WCAG 2.0 compliance ahead of the upcoming January 2018 deadline. This client has content administrators, editors and authors who have reduced vision and/or other physical disabilities. Artemis redesigned their existing website to be fully accessible for those with disabilities on both the public-facing side and also on the administrative side. By adhering to WCAG 2.0 AA, this Federal Government site that we built is future-proofed against the upcoming Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Refresh. In other words, the client will already be in compliance when the Refresh requirements that are mandated to be completed by 18 January 2018. Don talked about this earlier this year.
On the public-facing website, Artemis was able to accomplish many key accessibility and usability features, including responsive web design, an accessible mega-menu, a video player with accessible controls, web controls for contrast, controls for text size, accessible search controls (facets, etc.) and an auto generated sitemap for search engine optimization (SEO). On the content and site administration side, Artemis was able to provide the ability to add and edit content through a WCAG 2.0 AA-compliant accessible interface. We not only worked on the accessibility of the site but our User Experience (UX) team redesigned existing content into a cohesive well-organized information architecture framework and performed usability testing with key user segments.
The talk was well attended with a lot of questions from audience about the WCAG 2.0 standard, what’s coming next in the accessibility field, and how we achieved certain levels of compliance and usability. One audience member was so impressed with the talk that she wanted to come work for Artemis if we had an opening (and we do). While the technical challenges and how to address them are important, I wanted my talk to ensure that people came away with the message that WCAG 2.0 is not an unachievable target—you need the right experience with a dedicated set of developers and testers, and the appropriate accessibility tools and compliance checkers—and is well within reach.
Another takeaway that I wanted to impress upon the audience, and to anyone else reading this blog post, is that usability is a big part of accessibility too. Being accessible for WCAG 2.0 does not mean you have to just check the boxes and go through the motions, it also means you need to actually think about how people with disabilities will use your web application or website, and factor in the user flow and navigation into the site’s design. Last year, Holly talked about why accessibility is important. In summary, I had a good time imparting a few pearls of wisdom to the PHP community. If you have any questions about accessibility, WCAG 2.0 compliance and how to get there, feel free to use our Contact Us section to reach out to Artemis. We might be able to help you.