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Aug. 31, 2016, 1:12 p.m.
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LINK: www.designernews.co  ➚   |   Posted by: Shan Wang   |   August 31, 2016

One of the projects at Vax, Vox Media’s annual hack week this summer, was not a “product,” exactly, but an ongoing effort to build accessibility guidelines for not just the entire Vox Media company, but all teams publishing online. (The best practices checklist is here, broken down by role.)

In an AMA on Designer News on Wednesday, some members from the team behind the guidelines offered up more advice and answered some questions on the nitty gritty of how the guidelines were put together. A few additional tips are embedded in the AMA for design nerds looking to get their own teams thinking about how to improve online experiences for people with disabilities:

How would you recommend integrating thinking about accessibility in terms of the design process?

…I’d recommend keeping general accessibility standards (or our handy checklist!) nearby as you design and keep the standards fresh in your mind. As you design different elements, you can refer to standards for each element. For example, if you are wireframing a form, refer to standards around form design, but if you are selecting brand colors, refer to contrast tests and set specific standards around how and when the colors are applied to different backgrounds.

Accessibility should be thought about early and often, and throughout every part of a project. It’s not just something you check for at the very start or very end of a project.

What to say to a company that might think considering accessibility will take too many resources?

My best piece of advice is to start small. Our first formalized push in accessibility started with a group of six people and two days of work. We tried to come up with something of value immediately—which in our case, was role-specific guidelines on how to advance accessibility in folks’ every day projects. That helped us demonstrate the value to our leadership teams immediately. Later, we built on that foundation by presenting internally to different teams, building out the checklist tool, and so forth, but it all started with a small amount of resources.

Any advice on how to test WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) conformance when overlaying text on an image?

I’m not sure of a formal way or tool for testing it, but what we’ve done is to try to pull out the dominant color in the image and compare that color with the text color to test contrast using a tool like Colour Contrast Analyser. We also will sometimes add a color overlay or drop shadow on the text to help with legibility. If the image is busy, especially on smaller screens, sometimes we even move the text off of the image.

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