Our commitment to accessibility: Verify your content directly from the text editor

Posted on Thursday, February 2, 2017

Accessibility on the web

Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, the University of Ottawa is required to make its websites and its web content compliant with the level AA standards of the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. In order to meet this requirement, the University has undertaken numerous initiatives that range from the creation of an Accessibility Hub, to increasing employee and professor training on accessibility, to redefining and redesigning its web presence, and much more.

For a large institution like the University of Ottawa, one of the biggest challenges faced on the web has been the large number of public-facing sites and the countless number of users that create and manage content on these sites. Despite well-intended efforts, users tend to be forgetful, some may have not been fully trained, and others may try to push the limits of what they can do at the expense of accessibility.

So if training is not sufficient, what is the solution?

The answer to this would be tools that automate the verification process. Programmed tools do not need coffee or sleep to be functional, making them more effective than humans at detecting recurring issues and minor errors.

Already, the University uses Siteimprove to detect things like misspellings, broken links and accessibility errors on its many public-facing websites. Webmasters can then read monthly or bimonthly reports on all the issues that have been detected on their sites.

While the tool is undoubtedly great, it only allows specific webmasters to know about accessibility issues after the content they created was published on the web. This means that other content providers won't even be aware of issues with the items they publish, and major accessibility issues won't be resolved in a timely fashion.

Integrated accessibility checker

To alleviate the aforementioned problem, the Web Team has chosen to integrate an accessibility checker into the text editor itself. So as of the Andromeda release (February 4, 2017), users of the University of Ottawa's Drupal platform will be able to verify the accessibility level of their content even before publishing it, simply by clicking on a button.

The new "Check Accessibility" button can be found at the end of the text editor's toolbar. Clicking on it will activate the tool. If there are any issues detected, the tool will highlight them and provide a pop-up window with information on the issues found. For some things, it may suggest ways to automatically correct the issue.

A preview of the tool can be seen below:

Accessibility checking tool integrated into Drupal's text editor


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