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Improving UX Through Accessibility: PeopleDoc January Release

PeopleDoc Product Team by PeopleDoc Product Team   February 05 2019

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Did you know that worldwide, more than 1 billion people are estimated to live with some form of a disability? That’s about 15% of the world’s population, or roughly the same percentage of people in the world who have blue eyes.

At PeopleDoc we are committed to building solutions that are accessible to the widest possible audience. Although accessibility rules and regulations were created for people with disabilities, they benefit all users. It provides an opportunity for us to improve our user experience and offer better service to our clients by making our products more robust.  

In developing our accessibility strategy, we have consulted numerous accessibility standards including WCAG, RGAA (France), Section 508 (US). Those standards define rules that apply to graphics and usability, but also to technical aspects.


Since early 2018, we’ve been working on this big project to make our platform accessible to different kinds of users. The first improvements, which are centered around color contrast levels and visible focus, were delivered in our January release.

 

Colors contrast levels
When it comes to accessibility, the concept of color contrast is as critical as it is simple. Color contrast refers to the difference in light between a typography element (any graphic element in the foreground) and its background.

 

By using sufficiently-contrasting colors, we ensure that our users are actually able to read or access any information in our interfaces. This requirement is beneficial to users with visual disabilities (either low vision, low contrast vision etc.) but not only them. It is also a great improvement for any user that could suffer from situational impairment. Additionally, any other user will appreciate a color palette that isn’t distracting and won’t cause unnecessary eye strain.

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 4.17.38 PM

 

Visible focus and keyboard navigation

Users with motor or visual disabilities typically rely on a keyboard to navigate web content. That is why keyboard accessibility is one of the most critical aspects of web content accessibility.

 

We have made sure that all the elements in our user interfaces are operable with both a keyboard and a mouse.

 

As for color contrast, this improvement is beneficial not only for users with disabilities but also for all users in general. It allows to perform actions much faster using the keyboard instead of the mouse. And if the mouse runs out of battery or is unavailable for any reason, anyone can fully access and operate the user interface with a keyboard.

 

When an item has the keyboard “focus”, it can be activated or manipulated with the keyboard.

 

Keyboard navigation requires having visible focus indicator to guide users through the webpage and show selected items. Every browser has its own a default focus indicator which vary from one browser to another. They are common for all webpages and do not adapt to the colors of the webpage, so it could be difficult to identify and so do not respect accessibility requirement that says: “For each element that can be focused, the focus indicator should be visible”.


That’s why we decided to implement our own focus indicators in order to have full control of their visual aspect and contrast levels.

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 4.19.38 PM

 

This is the first step on the road of accessibility improvement. In the next months we will implement more new features in order to make our platform accessible to as many users as possible.


To learn more about all of the new features and great enhancements in the recent release, view the January release notes. (Note: you may need to be logged into PeopleDoc in order to access the release notes.)

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