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6 March 2020

Scitech
is a household name in Western Australia. Scitech’s work over the past three decades has
brought cutting edge science to everyone from adventure-ready kids to
inquisitive adults – igniting a lifelong curiosity in the process. Recently
Scitech decided it was time to take on a different kind of adventure: building
a new website that
ensured effective access for people with disability – with fantastic results.
Here’s some insights into Scitech’s accessibility journey.

Screenshot of Scitech homepage

As
the new website
neared completion, a website assessment was conducted by the Centre for
Accessibility’s Dr Scott Hollier to determine its compliance to the W3C Web
Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA standard. This involved
testing with several automated accessibility tools and code validators, a
variety of different assistive technologies including screen readers on desktop
and mobile devices along with dictation software and several different browsers
across Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.

Once
the technologies and a baseline were determined, sample pages were identified
for the testing. This included a range of pages based on typical content,
multimedia content, event pages, interactive elements such as forms and date
pickers, and the home page. Once the assessment was complete, it was found that
overall, the Scitech website worked well in broad terms, but some accessibility
issues needed to be addressed.

Video playback

One
of the issues picked up in the testing was that the initial video playback
lacked controls. This included controls for fast forwarding and rewinding
videos and adjusting the volume. With the issue identified Scitech were able to
replace the video plug-in with a more accessible video player, ensuring that
all control functionality for the video was available.

Descriptive links

Screenshot of Scitech education page

A
common accessibility issue is the use of descriptions such as ‘click here’ ‘or
‘read more’ which are difficult for screen reader users as it’s not clear what
the ‘click here’ or ‘read more’ will do. Taking this feedback on board, Scitech
worked to ensure their links are more descriptive so that it’s now clear what
links will do if selected.

Colour contrast

Screenshot of Scitech exhibition page

A
common accessibility issue that can creep in during development is issues
relating to colour contrast. This may be through the use of colour alone to
identify a change which makes it difficult for people with a colour vision
impairment, or poor contrast overall. While the Scitech website prior to launch
had considered contrast, there were some elements where colour alone was used
and other sections where the recommended 4.5:1 colour contrast ratio had dipped
in places. Taking the feedback on board, Scitech rectified the the issues
ensuring that the website has an excellent use of colour.

Screenshot of Scitech find us page

Form fields

In
the initial review, there were some form fields such as the Search box which
were difficult for assistive technology users to pick up. This issue was easily
addressed, and the search box now works well.

Mobile Orientation

Another
issue that was identified in the accessibility assessment and testing related
to screen orientation whereby some elements would not view correctly in both
portrait mode and landscape mode. This would mean that if a person had their
mobile device mounted in a particular position, there would be aspects of the
website that didn’t function correctly. Scitech worked with their developers to
address this issue and the website now works great in both portrait and
landscape modes.

With
the new Scitech website
now live, it’s great to see that its accessibility journey is largely complete
with ongoing vigilance from its development and content teams to ensure that
accessibility issues don’t creep back in.

Many
thanks to Scitech for the opportunity to provide the assessment.

The Centre for Accessibility is a joint project by Media on Mars, DADAA and Dr Scott Hollier and is funded by the Department of Communities, Disability Services.

Website by Media on Mars - link opens in a new window