Best Practices

Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging.  (from Web Accessibility Initiative)

The OpenLab is working towards more accessibility for all users. Currently we are well on our way to achieving level A compliance according to the WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards. Below is a summary of the current features on the OpenLab for low vision users, keyboard navigation and screen reader navigation.

  1. Low Vision and Color Blindness on the OpenLab – In general, low vision is defined as a condition in which a person’s vision cannot be fully corrected by glasses, thus interfering with daily activities such as reading and driving. Low vision is more common among the elderly, but it can occur in individuals of any age. (from
    1. Zoom
      1. The OpenLab functions well in an enlarged or “zoomed in” state. Zoom In options are found in the View menu item on any web browser. When zoom is maximized, the OpenLab switches to a mobile layout.
      2. The OpenLab can be zoomed in and out as needed without causing functionality issues from the transitions.
    2. Color Contrast
      1. We are working on attaining at least 3:1 contrast for all text to correspond to the WCAG level A recommendation. The OpenLab is currently in the process of finding and adjusting low contrast type areas throughout the site.
      2. The OpenLab avoids using color as the sole method of conveying information.
    3. Moving areas and animations
      1. The OpenLab does not contain videos or animations that autoplay. There is a slider on the homepage which includes autoplay, but it can be overridden using the “tab” key to view a static version.  (The slider is the section near the middle-top of the homepage that includes rotating images and text.)
  2. Keyboard Accessibility on the OpenLab – Keyboard accessibility is one of the most important aspects of web accessibility. Many users with motor disabilities rely on a keyboard. Blind users also typically use a keyboard for navigation. In addition to traditional keyboards, some users may use modified keyboards or other hardware that mimics the functionality of a keyboard. (from
    1. Skip Links
      1. The user can hit the “tab” key on any page to skip to the admin bar to log in or check messages.
      2. The user can hit the “tab” key on any page to skip to the main content on the page.
    2. Tab navigation follows the visual order of the page
      1. The user can combine visual and keyboard navigation without jumping around the page unexpectedly.
      2. Outdated accessibility methods which forced users to take a particular path through the site (user flow) have been removed.
    3. Javascript functions work with keyboard navigation.
      1. Search for a course/club/project can be used with a keyboard navigation.
      2. Admin bar can be used with keyboard navigation.
  3. Screen Reader Accessibility on the OpenLab – Screen readers are audio interfaces. Rather than displaying web content visually for users in a “window” or screen on the monitor, screen readers convert text into synthesized speech so that users can listen to the content. (from
    1. The Homepage Slider can be advanced with the tab key so that the user does not have to listen to all of the slides to continue.
    2. Buttons are labeled to make sense when read aloud.
    3. Icons are hidden from screen readers so that the name of the icon is not read aloud.
    4. If the action of a button or link is not clear from its label, additional information is included for screen readers.
    5. Avatar Images (the image representing a person or group’s Profile) are labeled clearly for screen readers.
    6. Hierarchy of headings on a page communicates information.
      1. There is only one H1 (the most important and largest heading) per page.
      2. H2 (the second heading in the hierarchy) and below correspond to the level of importance on the page.

If you have any questions about accessibility on the OpenLab, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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