Originally published June 19, 2019
We are updating the accessibility level of our products to align with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA standards. This revision to the previous version – WCAG 2.0 Level AA – was published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in June 2018 and has stabilized in practice over the past several months. Accessibility standards published by the W3C form the basis for accessibility regulations in over 20 countries around the globe.
While our focus continues to remain on implementing the spirit of the law by designing for delightful and intuitive user experience for all, we view conformance with standards as the first and essential step in that process. This ensures compatibility with assistive and allied technologies that might be used with our platform and tools.
Why WCAG 2.1?
As a global vendor of educational technology and services, we strive to keep our offerings aligned with the most advanced accessibility requirements around the globe. WCAG 2.1 Level AA will be the requirement for public procurement in EU from September 23, 2019 under EN 301 549, the EU accessibility standard.
Through WCAG 2.1, we will be able to cater better to users of mobile technologies. This works better for us, given the seamless way in which our products work across desktop and mobile platforms in a responsive manner. We will also have better features for users with low vision, users with cognitive and learning disabilities, and users with fine motor difficulties.
What is changing?
- Improved color contrast of non-text elements with respect to both background and text colors to ensure low vision users can better perceive elements like buttons and dropdowns, including hover and focus states.
- Improved color contrast and font size for standard font elements to improve legibility and ensure appropriate visual weight with non-text element changes. Our standard text elements now have a 7:1 contrast on a white background (level AAA compliance). The default font size for all clients has been standardized to our "Medium" font setting. Individual users may use Account Settings to set a personal override.
- Better support for low vision users who expand line and text spacing using other tools.
- Better experience for users with fine motor difficulties with interaction on mobile devices with mouse movement, touch patterns, and device orientation.
- Reflow of content with change in viewport size to support users with low vision; this was already a feature under our Daylight Design system.
- Better experience for users of speech input with forms for identifying input purpose of form fields and speaking visible field names for initiating input.
- Improved feedback to screen reader users about status and alert messages.
We are going about the changes in a phased manner, with the visual changes to the Daylight Design and updates to shared components prioritized for the first round. You will see some of these changes in our July release. Other changes will follow in our platform and tools in the subsequent releases, again in a phased manner aligned with their impact on users. Before the end of September, we will be publishing an updated checklist documenting the current conformance and exceptions of our Core LMS with the requirements of WCAG 2.1 Level AA.
What does this mean for you as clients?
You can support your users who experience permanent, temporary, or situational disabilities through
- better compatibility with screen reading, screen magnification, and speech input assistive devices;
- better user experience on mobile devices; and
- optimally contrasted interface, with support for personalization through tools of choice.
We will continue to support inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all, in keeping with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal #4. Thank you for supporting us in our goal of reaching every learner.