A computer screen filled with lines of code. Text reads: “Accessible Web Development.” The accessibility icon, a stick figure in a circle, is in the top right corner.

Accessibility at LabXchange: Web Development

Accessibility at LabXchange

Welcome to our new accessibility series! This month, we’re looking at web accessibility at LabXchange across four blog posts. We’ll cover inclusive language, accessibility in web development, and accessible design. In this post, we hear from our technical team about accessible web development.

Each month we highlight different aspects of LabXchange and the Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Science Education project (RDEISE). (Previously, we’ve covered the project’s inception, introduced our graduate fellows and the faculty steering committee, and recently went behind the scenes for an exclusive look at the project's learning designers.)

Historically, the study and practice of science have been inaccessible to many groups and individuals - women, individuals with disabilities, and individuals with limited financial means, just to name a few.At LabXchange, we are dedicated to making science education more accessible. We aim to understand and respect our global learning community’s evolving needs and perspectives. As part of the Harvard University community, we seek to conform to the university’s Digital Accessibility Policy. The policy is based on The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1, Level AA Conformance (WCAG 2.1 Level AA). We strive to surpass these minimum required standards and to serve as leaders in this space.  

Web Development and Accessibility

According to LabXchange Head of Content Dr. Martin Samuels, “at every stage of development, starting from when we first draft a script, through every round of graphics and animation revision, one of our principal values is ensuring that we’re providing an equitable learning experience.” In this blog post, we chat with developer Gareth Beukes about how our tech team puts this value into practice.

Q: What are some of the major areas of concern for web development and accessibility?

A: One major question is how to make content decipherable by as many methods as possible. For example, we ensure that content is screen-reader friendly, allowing for an effective audio-focused experience. Another major concern is providing multiple means of interacting with content. This could mean adding support for keyboard navigation, or adding additional logic that provides alternatives to relying on fine-motor functions for drag-and-drop elements.

Q: How does the team ensure accessibility in the products we develop?

A: We hold ourselves to a standard of following guidelines that are thoroughly researched and tested. We use multiple tools during multiple stages of development to ensure we are meeting these standards. As a team, we also maintain an evolving series of documents that address any discoveries and methods that we used to overcome accessibility-related challenges.

Q: Please list some of the dev team’s accessibility achievements.

A: We have updated multiple projects to now pass every test throughout the accessibility testing process. For example, we created an intuitive method to solve accessibility concerns and make our simulated lab environment user-friendly for keyboard users.

Read the rest of the Blogs in our Accessibility series: Accessible Product Design, Inclusive Language, and Accessible Graphic Design.

Subscribe to our newsletter for future blog posts, in which we’ll profile other teams working behind the scenes of the Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Science Education project.

Written by
LabXchange Accessibility Team

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