November 10th, 2020

What is accessibility?

Accessibility means that all websites, tools and technologies are designed and developed to be used by everyone, including individuals with a variety of disabilities. Everyone should have the ability to understand, navigate and interact with a website and contribute to the web, including by the use of assistive technologies.

Examples of disabilities that web accessibility supports are:

  • Auditory
  • Cognitive
  • Neurological
  • Physical
  • Speech
  • Visual

Web accessibility also benefits users on different devices; older people with changing abilities from age; temporary disabilities like a broken arm; situational disabilities (like bright sunlight or an environment where they cannot listen to audio); and users who have a slow internet connection.

Web accessibility is required by law in many situations, including Section 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act for projects and organizations receiving federal funding. While Section 508 mandates WCAG 2.0 AA compliance, LookThink uses the somewhat more stringent WCAG 2.1 AA level success criteria for our work.

Website Accessibility Audit Findings

For fun, we decided to conduct a small-scale accessibility audit of one of our favorite work technologies: Slack. According to our initial Lighthouse report, Slack passes accessibility requirements with a 91%. What is this means for us is that Lighthouse only found one instance of improvement on the site. What we found is that the form elements on the site (inputs, etc.) are not necessarily properly formatted for screen readers. What this means for us: a screen reader can not easily identify which form it is reading and will only read aloud "form" rather than a specific associative label. 

Other than this instance, everything else on Slack passed WCAG 2.0 AA compliance with flying colors!

Of course, we cannot just rely on Lighthouse to tell us how accessible this site is. So doing a little digging around ourselves, we found some more examples of WCAG 2.0 AA compliance! 

Color scheme

Slack scored very highly when it came to its color scheme. They ensured that the background and foreground colors have a sufficient contrast ratio, allowing for those with low vision to easily see what they are clicking on.

headers

Slack also ensured that the headers and heading elements appeared in a sequentially-descending order. This means that the headers start at H1 at the top of the page, and as you move down the page they descend to H2, H3, etc. 

alt-text

All of the images in Slack have an alt tag, whether it be GIFs or photos you have uploaded yourself. Slack automatically adds alt tags to images to ensure screen readers can pick up on the images and read them appropriately to the user.

buttons

Finally, Slack presented its buttons with accessible names, allowing screen readers to understand the buttons and read the appropriate button names through the screen reader.

All-in-all, Slack is an incredibly accessible tool that has become increasingly useful as more and more employers send their employees home due to the pandemic. If your company is not utilizing Slack to the fullest, we recommend checking out this article.

If you'd like to conduct a self-guided website accessibility audit of your own website, click on our guide below:

Accessibility Audit