The World Health Organization estimates that more than one billion people — mostly older people and people with disabilities — are in need of assistive products such as low-vision devices, wheelchairs or hearing aids. This number is expected to double by 2050.
Both disabilities and the challenges of aging can affect access to information technologies. Given how central the internet has become to economic and social well-being around the world, accessibility to the web is of critical importance to these people in particular. More broadly, prioritizing accessibility of web content should also benefit people seeking to overcome technological barriers to internet access, language- or literacy-based barriers, or limitations due to cost of access.
Our values-based approach to web design prioritizes equitable distribution and accessibility for all, so public resources reach the people who need them most. In all the work we produce, Blue State is committed to ensuring equal access for people with disabilities. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) defines requirements for designers and developers to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. It defines three levels of conformance: Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA. As a standard practice, we aim to create work for our clients that is fully conformant with WCAG 2.1 level AA, meaning that content can be published that meets this accessibility standard without any exceptions. This includes conventions for the front end implementation for screen reader compatibility, text resizing, color contrast ratios, keyboard accessibility, and corresponding controls in the CMS for entering metadata.
The specific tools we use to scan for WCAG compliance are Contrast and WebAIM during design and Deque axe throughout development and QA. In our design process, we counsel our clients on strategies for meeting accessibility targets, which will impact some design choices (for example, selecting alternate colors for values in the brand guidelines if needed to meet contrast requirements). In content strategy and editor training, we also identify ongoing responsibilities for content creators in following accessibility standards (for example, each audio and video file needs a text transcript and each image file needs a text description).
As a benchmark of our commitment, Blue State endeavors to continually improve our own website. Most recently, in February 2020 we updated the Blue State site applying the relevant WCAG 2.1 level AA standards to ensure accessibility for all.