BiblioCommons Commitment to Accessibility
Last updated: Mar 16, 2023
Public Libraries have long served their communities as welcoming, open, and inclusive built environments. As a digital service provider to public libraries, we know that the online experience we create needs to be welcoming and inclusive to people with a wide range of abilities. This includes those who rely on assistive technology to access online services, in addition to individuals with cognitive and digital-literacy challenges.
An important part of our commitment to those using assistive technology includes the implementation of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 level AA, which we'll just call the “Guidelines” for the rest of this document. Beyond these Guidelines, we have also set the goal of meeting the more broadly defined usability needs of users of assistive technology.
How Are We Doing This
The Guidelines serve as an internationally accepted measure of success for websites and online applications, and so we are using them to evaluate our current services and make changes and adjustments to better serve people with disabilities. We are committed to providing online services that not only meet but exceed the criteria set out by the Guidelines.
As part of our design and development process, we have worked with third-party experts to review our products, identify accessibility goals based on the Guidelines and have created a plan to meet these goals as we update and improve our websites overall. Our team has been trained in how to implement the Guidelines in the design, development, and testing of the websites and has made a number of significant changes to the services over the last five years. They are working steadily to align all of the services with the Guidelines, and the regulations that use the Guidelines as their measure.
Steps We've Taken So Far
- We commissioned a professional audit of our websites and received recommendations that will bring the websites in line with the Guidelines.
- We also collaborated with a team of expert Accessibility Testers who have lived experience with print disabilities, who provided additional recommendations for accessibility improvements
- We have worked and will continue to work with our library partners to identify specific issues members of their communities are experiencing and address those issues.
Many of these improvements have already been completed. In each case, we have aimed for solutions that align both with the Guidelines and with more broadly defined principles of usability. These improvements include:
- Text Equivalents — We are working to ensure that images are accessible to people who use screen readers and other assistive technology by using appropriate alternative text.
- Site Structure — We are working to ensure that appropriate headings are used so that people can use the site with assistive technology.
Keyboard Access — Improving keyboard access for non-mouse input devices, including ongoing projects:
- to open modals, overlays or dialogs with the correct focus
- to make it easier to navigate headings, lists, paragraphs, links and buttons
- to ensure that forms are fully accessible.
- Magnification — We are working to ensure that the main workflows in our sites can be used by people with screen magnifiers.
- Colour Contrast — Ensuring that colour use on the websites does not compromise text legibility.
- We have also implemented design and review procedures that will align future features and development with the Guidelines.
How We Make It Sustainable
We have taken steps to ensure that accessibility is not a one-time project, but is an ongoing process of improvement.
- Our Product team includes accessibility and usability criteria for any new feature or improvements to existing features.
- The User Experience team approaches new designs and improvements through the lens of the Guidelines and usability practices.
- As our development teams write new code for those designs, they are refining consistent practices for accessibility according to the Guidelines and usability insights, and applying those systematically to the application.
- Our Quality Assurance team tests each new feature using a variety of assistive technology such as screen readers and high contrast displays.
- We have put in place automated tests to ensure that new changes do not violate the basic structures recommended in the Guidelines.
In addition, we have developed internal processes to ensure new and current employees have the tools they need to make the right choices for accessibility and usability.
Are We There Yet?
We have covered a lot of ground, and we know we have more work to do. In 2022, we launched a new listing page for BiblioEvents, which was designed and developed using the accessibility principles we've refined in recent years. We also worked with NNELS (National Network for Equitable Library Service) and their experts who conducted in-depth accessibility and usability testing on BiblioCore and informed immediate and long-term improvements to our products.
Further, we continued to refine and improve BiblioApps for iOS and Android for users of mobile devices. Across all products, we implemented improvements for screen reader navigation, focus indication and management, screen magnification up to 200%, and color contrast ratios.
We have additional work planned for 2023 and beyond. In 2023, a new Hours & Locations page will be launched, which is being built from the ground up using accessibility principles. We're also introducing ARIA landmarks to provide programmatic access to sections of the page. As with all years, we will iterate on our products and make accessibility improvements throughout the year. We appreciate your support as we continue to take steps to make our services accessible and usable by all.
About Third Party Content and Features
Our online products may include content and utilities from third party sites and products. We cannot control or correct any issues with this content or its accessibility, but it's important for us to be able to pass on any accessibility issues to the creators of those sites.
Feedback or Questions?
If you experience an accessibility issue with BiblioCommons websites or have any questions or accessibility concerns, please contact your library.