Q&A with Lyssn Lead Front End Engineer John Meade
The Lyssn Platform and Online Accessibility
Q: What is web accessibility?
According to the World Wide Web Consortium, “Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them.” Disabilities can be permanent or temporary and can change the way users perceive a web application. Much of the web is built for sighted users who can see a broad spectrum of shades and colors, and who interact with an application through keyboards, mice, and touch screens. But true web accessibility goes much deeper than that.
Q: What does it mean to be truly accessible?
To really be accessible, web applications must take into consideration how information is perceived by a user, and how a user interacts with that information. All parts of an application that are important need to be accessible via sight, sound, and text. Users must be able to move around and interact with the application through touch–keyboards, mice, and touchscreens–and through sound–screen readers and verbal input. The visual layout of an application should work on screen sizes as small as a watch to as big as a building exterior and should maintain usability even if a user changes fonts, screen resolutions, or the zoom percentage.
The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.
–Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
Q: How does Lyssn actively maintain accessibility?
At Lyssn, accessibility starts with platform design. Responsive visual layouts, text fonts, and colors all meet or exceed international accessibility standards. In visual design, our platform uses specific colors to communicate importance and interactivity. For example, buttons to navigate or submit information are orange, while notifications and errors are presented in purple text.
Design is not only visual, but also experiential. We follow internal standards to make sure our platform is as intuitive as possible. As an example, most of our icons include explanation text that is automatically displayed when a user moves their mouse over the icon or focuses it with their keyboard. The same icons are represented and explained with text which is read aloud if a user is utilizing screen reading technology.
HTML in particular has made huge gains in giving developers much of what they need to code information into the page so that browsers and assistive technologies, such as screen readers, can know precisely what an element’s purpose, contents, and interactivity are. At Lyssn, we implement every new design in modern HTML, making use of every tool it gives us to make sure the platform works for every user.
Q: Is accessibility the same from browser to browser?
Part of our accessibility goal at Lyssn is to make sure that we constantly move forward in implementing our platform as cross-browser compatible as possible with the intention of expanding access to browsers and devices as they become compliant with our technology and privacy standards.
Q: Anything else you want people to know?
Your feedback helps us improve accessibility for all! Accessibility will always be a top priority for Lyssn! The examples given above just begin to scratch the surface of the work our development team is putting in to assure the Lyssn platform is intuitive, inclusive, and accessible for all users. We would love to hear from you if you have further questions or specific concerns related to accessibility on the Lyssn platform.