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Accessibility on CarbonCulture

Written by CarbonCulture Team on 10th August 2015

The CarbonCulture platform has been designed from the beginning to work online and offline, in pixels, in print and in person for as many people as possible. The 'digital' touchpoints – like web, mobile, ambient screens – bring huge engagement benefits outcomes for their users, and they benefit from the amazing capabilties of modern browsers and devices. But not everyone finds these devices equally convenient: blind and paritally sighted people, as people with limited mobility, and people who just aren't that used to the web – all have requirements that reward careful consideration, and we try to design for everyone, rather than just the majority.

We aim, in the design and development of the CarbonCulture digital touchpoints, to make it  accessible to a wide variety of users - both directly and by supporting assistive technologies - while also taking advantage of the exciting possibilities offered by modern browsers. When making design choices on CarbonCulture we follow best practice wherever possible, testing new and existing features with people to understand their needs and build a better, more accessible platform. We try for example to meet the the WCAG AA standard, and we also look to leaders like GOV.UK for the latest design research and thinking on accessibility in real world use.

In some cases we haven't follow the standards to-the-letter. Normally this is because we've chosen a route that we think is actually more accessible than the standard approach. In some cases we may have made a mistake or something may be broken. In any case we're delighted to be told about it. We are somewhat resource-constrained, so we can't prioritise fixing problems that are purely theoretical. Most of the specific work we do on accessibility is very pragmatic and focussed on solving real user problems. For example, we try to ensure our pages degrade gracefully on less-sophisticated browsers - including screenreader and text-only browsers. That means that the core features should work on even the most basic of device browsers, and even if these browsers don’t have the latest features. We've also built a lot of non-javascript fall-back so that links and forms that would otherwise be loaded & sent using javascript will work, even if javascript is turned off or not available (as is the case with some assistive technologies).

Sometimes CC conveys meaning with icons instead of text, which screen readers might not pick up, so CC either tries to have alt=“” tags for images, or when adding icons with css, there is also text there (the text is hidden with css but still visible to screen readers).

One design decision that has a large impact on people’s experience of CarbonCulture is the font we use across the platform. We chose the font ‘FS Me’ for its appeal and readability to a broad audience. It was designed ‘specifically to improve legibility for people with learning disabilities’ by Fontsmith in collaboration with Mencap, the UK’s leading charity and voice for those with learning disabilities, and we think it looks great too!

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