Our Accessible Platform Initiative
A few months back, I wrote about why we were prioritizing accessibility enhancements on our platform. Accessible websites are better for everyone. If our websites aren’t built with accessibility in mind, it creates real barriers to some of the users who need them the most.
At Digital Services Georgia, we believe state agencies have a responsibility to be accessible. So our product team spent countless hours reviewing and implementing the recommendations that came out of a series of accessibility audits performed by our partners at AMAC Accessibility. AMAC reviewed our 12 themes, all 25 page types, and our separate Georgia.gov theme and page types. They then provided 13 reports detailing their recommendations. Our goal was to provide WCAG 2.0 (Level AA) accessibility in our platform code and design — these are the standards the Judicial Department uses as a baseline for accessibility requirements.
Accessible Sites For All
We reviewed, prioritized, and implemented a number of improvements across the platform for our accessible platform initiative, rolling them out over the last few months as they’ve been completed. This month, we finished all our color palette updates. In all, from July 2015 through Jan. 2016, our team completed:
- 24 platform code enhancements, including improved link text, improved tab visibility, and improved structural HTML and heading order
- 13 themes (look & feel) updated for color contrast and font legibility
In total, the result is over 80 agency websites that have seen accessibility improvements as part of the initiative, as well as a WCAG 2.0 compliant state web portal at Georgia.gov. If you’re a details person, you read about all of the accessibility enhancements we've made in our Accessibility Case Study.
Code, Colors, and … Content!
Accessibility isn't just a code consideration — it applies to the content of the sites as well. This includes:
- adding alternate text to images;
- creating accessible PDFs; and
- writing content in plain language that is easy to understand.
For an agency's website to be fully accessible on the enterprise platform, our agency content managers must also do their part to make the information provided on the sites accessible as well. The following are content-specific improvements that you can make to increase the accessibility of your website's content.
- Use clear and simple language
- Add alternate text to images
- Use helpful text for links
- Use tables for tabular data only
- Use semantic markup (mark headings in your body text, etc.)
- Make your Documents Accessible
- Provide Captions, Transcripts, and Audio Descriptions for multimedia
While we’ve completed our overall initiative, we’re never done. All new enhancements will be designed and built to be accessible, and we will continue to educate and encourage our agencies to do their part to make their content accessible. Together, we can make sure Georgia’s government services are accessible and usable for all.