Accessibility and the Library Website

I recently received some comments about the Library website’s accessibility, and it seemed like a good time to disseminate information about this important initiative more widely.

What is Accessibility?

In Web Accessibility for Everyone, Laura Kalbag defines web accessibility as the “degree to which a website is usable by as many people as possible.” It’s not just about accommodating users with disabilities, although obviously that’s one enormous benefit of accessibility. It’s about reaching as many people as possible, especially people using the website in unexpected ways. Happily, making a website accessible improves the experience for people who don’t “need” it too.

There is more than one standard for accessibility. The University of California has adopted WCAG 2.0 targeting AA compliance.

What’s the initiative?

In order to improve accessibility across the university, UCOP has licensed a tool called Siteimprove to help with our accessibility analysis. Michele in particular put in a lot of work to improve our site accessibility.

A lot of the work will be predictable to people who have familiarity with accessibility. She’s improved color contrast to make things easier to read. She’s added text metadata so that users who may not be able to see images aren’t faced with hard-to-understand omissions.

Some other things may be less obvious. One problem that came up again and again was in news posts. Authors would paste in from other resources, which would include formatting markup that was not accessible. This is one reason that news posting is limited to designated individuals. To keep the site accessible, we need people to be aware of these sorts of non-obvious problems.

How’d We Do?

Siteimprove scores range from 0 to 100. When we started, we were in the 60s. Not good!

After some (tedious) work fixing up old content and some (hopefully more interesting) work setting things up so that we don’t backslide, Michele got us in to the 90s about a year ago. 🤘

For people who like graphs, here’s what it looks like. The green line is our site. The blue line is Siteimprove’s industry benchmark for education.

graph showing significant Library website accessibility improvement

More pretty images! Here’s our most recent score of 93.1:

Library SiteImprove score of 93.1

I won’t post the main campus website’s score here, but I will tell you that it’s lower.

To verify the Siteimprove scores, I compared it to a tool called Lighthouse. We got a 97 there!

Library website showing 97 score in Lighthouse

All this cheerleading aside, I do want to say that if anyone has accessibility comments, questions, or concerns, please raise them! We’ve come a long way, but there’s always room for more improvement. (I’m sure if I ran these same tests on some of our other sites, the results would be alarming.)

Thanks for reading and caring about website accessibility!

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