November 16, 2020 Improving Online Accessibility Constantly working to do better, our digital journey is still very much ongoing Amy Jo Espetveidt The internet is not exactly a very accessible place. Sure, at first glace it seems inclusive and awesome but there’s actually thousands of ways it is not—and I’m not just talking about the trolls. From biased algorithms to a design first mentally, there are tons of ways that technology doesn’t allow for a universal user experience. What I see when I visit a website is vastly different from what you see on your end. These can be changes I have made in my browser to allow for larger text or colour contrast, or they can be things like security settings, operating systems, and device age. It even depends on what size your browser window is! While we are constantly making improvements to our own online presence, Calgary Arts Development has made these changes since 2016 when we launched our new, amalgamated and simplified website: Combined multiple and event specific websites into a singular hub that focusses on Calgary’s arts sector. Installed an accessibility widget that allows for easy user customization. Adapted design elements to make them more universally accessible. Kept design elements and animations minimal for lower internet speeds and readability. Improved search functions throughout the site. Updated our forms to a more accessible widget and offer one-on-one support. How the accessibility widget looks on our website, both collapsed and expanded | Screencap: Calgary Arts Development And that’s not all. Everyday improvements throughout our content plan include: Focusing on plain language throughout our website, documents, and guidelines. Having reports, guidelines, and other documents available as accessible PDFs to download whenever possible. Implementing simple, informative alt text on new images. Work to update the media archives is still ongoing and we use alt text on social media accounts wherever we can. Proofing submitted content for missing information and errors. Writing closed captioning for videos we post and including transcripts for town halls and information sessions. Currently, our website meets WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards and all new additions or changes are being made with this in mind. WCAG 2.0 is an internationally accepted standard for web accessibility developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and is recognized by the Canadian Federal Government. There is still a lot to improve on—it’s a slow and ongoing process. And, because everyone’s web experience is unique, I encourage you to reach out and let us know if there is something that’s not quite right. We can’t plan improvements if we don’t know it’s an issue. Email us at email@example.com and we’ll add it to our list. Amy Jo Espetveidt is the Content Manager for Calgary Arts Development. An internationally published photojournalist, she balances her time between writing and shooting, aiming for a healthy mix of both. She has a deep passion for both the arts and Calgary, combining them in volunteer commitments and work. Amy Jo manages all of the online content for Calgary Arts Development. As for the best part of the job—it’s sharing all the awesome events and opportunities taking place in our community.