Small steps towards an accessible Red Badger website

Throughout our seven year history Red Badger have been vocal advocates of online accessibility.

A search of our blog listings will throw up a number of articles, ranging from encouraging inclusive design, to impassioned thought pieces. But how do we incorporate our ideals into the everyday running of a project, and why do we place so much emphasis on improving in this area?

In one of our internal projects, developing the new Red Badger website that you’re currently browsing, we recently made a small change to the colour scheme to increase the contrasting of some of the content. The fix involved the Design team implementing two new shades of red to increase the contrast with darker and lighter backgrounds. The issue was prioritised above a number of new features and turned around as quick as we could manage.

Part of this change can be seen in the screenshot below. On close inspection you may be able to spot the difference in shades, but really it’s a tiny change. It makes no difference to the overall user experience, or has any detriment to the strong, consistent branding we’ve tried to stamp on our site. It does however, make things easier for those with the aforementioned visual impairments, so it was the right call to make.

Before - failing a WAVE accessibility test

Before - failing a WAVE accessibility test

After - clearer contrasts, better results

After - clearer contrasts, better results

In an internal project we, admittedly, have the luxury of developing solely to our own values, which is not always the case elsewhere. We’re the first to acknowledge that in an external project there are stakeholders to manage, and the decision on prioritising such issues may well end up out of our hands.

By taking this action though, we feel that we’re at least showing what is possible, and that accessible design equates to a better experience for a wider range of users, which provides a strong platform to negotiate from when talking to clients about similar issues. We still have further to go in this area and we want to do more, but admission of that is, in and of itself, a step in the right direction.

So, why are we celebrating such a seemingly trivial change?

The small change we made in this instance will be mostly beneficial to people affected by colour blindness. It is estimated that approximately 4.5% of the world's population is colour blind in some form. This is a staggering amount of people, which took me by surprise. Compare it to the latest browser usage stats (as of April 2017) which show only 3.9% of people still using Internet Explorer (IE). I personally have never worked on a project where at least one version of IE has been supported, which includes extra tools for testing these thoroughly. Conversely, I can count on one hand the amount of projects where accessibility has been mentioned at all, let alone prioritised.

We read browser stats and come up with development and test plans around these because we believe it to make business sense to not turn our back on a section of our user-base, so why do we not apply the same logic to those in need of a more accessible internet?

This is not just a moral argument for inclusivity, although I believe that should be enough of a reason for a greater effort. Take a look at some of the disability statistics in this article collated from the US, UK and Canada. I think, ultimately it boils down to a case of hard numbers that are difficult to ignore. The benefits of catering to these demographics are significant, so why not start realising the potential of accessible design? In making this change, and celebrating it, I hope we’re showing that change doesn’t have to be revolutionary - just one step in the right direction at a time.

 

May the 18th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, so there’s no better time to reflect on how you’re contributing to a more inclusive and accessible online experience. For more information on how you can make a difference, see the links below.

We’re always striving for improvement. So if you have anything in mind, or any ideas how to make our site more accessible we’re happy to hear your feedback. Let us know at hello@red-badger.com

 

Participating in Global Accessibility Awareness Dayhttp://globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org/participate.html

Web accessibility overview and standards - https://www.w3.org/WAI/gettingstarted/

Other Red Badger content on accessibility - https://red-badger.com/search?q=accessibility

Greg Dorward

TEST LEAD

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