Thing 6 of the 23 Things course covers accessibility. While I thought I had a fairly good grip on ways in which to make my website and presentations accessible, I was overlooking quite a few things. I ran the Website Accessibility eValuation Tool (WAVE) on my website. The results were eye opening. I discuss my findings and thoughts below.
Was I surprised by anything I found?
I found that there were quite a few red flags on my website. A few images without alternative text descriptions. Within the last year or so, I would say that I have tried to ensure that any photo I uploaded to the website had an alternative description. I do the same for my Twitter account. It’s a small thing that is easy to do and makes a big difference for those who have visual impairments. I will have to take some time and ensure that I fix these things on my website.
I was also surprised to find and read about how heading levels matter. I will admit that I chose my headings based on appearance and laziness. Heading level 3 or 4 were used just because I felt they looked better. I didn’t have to change the sizing of them. Headings are key structural markers for a screen reader. This inconsistency could no doubt be very confusing to visitors using a screen reader, as they headings wouldn’t make sense in creating the structure of a post.
Did I discover anything new that is particularly useful to me?
I think in continuing to ensure that my website is accessible is very important. I will need to work towards getting my headings right, adding any missing alternative text descriptions to images, and continue to keep pages clean with little distracting content.
I think the most useful thing was the article, Designing forms for gender diversity and inclusion. While I don’t collect any such data on my website, I do for my research. This article will inform how I pose demographic questions. I will reflect on whether the gender question is necessary. If it is, then I will ensure to use this as a resource for ensuring that diversity is respected and everyone feels comfortable with how the questions are being asked, and why they are being asked.
The content of Thing 5 and 6 have caused me to reflect on how I present and thinking about the content I share online. While I am still working through what exactly I will share on this website (grad experience, research, stats, etc.), these things are things that are universal and I must consider to ensure that everyone feels welcome on my website.