Achieving Accessibility Excellence On The AddressFinder Widget
Accessibility is the concept of whether a product or service can be used by everyone—however they encounter it. To us at AddressFinder, accessibility means making things fair for all.
We are in a unique position of responsibility as our verified address Widget is used on thousands of websites every day by tens of thousands of end users. This means that any positive change we make to the widget, appears on the websites of our clients and this in turn directly benefits the user experience of their customers.
Improving accessibility is not always an easy task especially when the person charged with making the improvements is me, a person who does not have any disabilities and has limited interactions with those that do. So when the suggestion of making the AddressFinder widget more accessible was raised by a customer, we did the smart thing and asked for help.
So who did we call for help? Intopia.
Intopia provide WCAG compliance audits and usability testing and this is what they did for us. The brief was for them to audit the “vanilla” version of the AddressFinder widget (v3) against WCAG 2.1 levels A and AA. The service we received from Darren, Vanessa and Joe (the auditor) was amazing and I would recommend them to anyone looking to make accessibility improvements. Not only did we receive clear feedback and documentation on where and why the widget should be improved but they also told us how to make these changes and this included providing code examples.
And now after a short period of time, we are in the position of providing services via a widget which has achieved Level A and AA accessibility under WCAG 2.1 standards.
*Address search results are wrapped in order to display the full address whilst on a mobile device and at page magnification.
I would encourage anyone who provides services online to look into accessibility. You may be in a position to make significant changes but there may be smaller quick wins you can make in order to improve accessibility. Perhaps check the list of the Most Common Accessibility Failures from Accessibility.day. Three easy improvements which make the list are:
- Low Contrast Text
- Missing Image Alt Text
- Missing Form Input Labels
A few thank yous to those who have supported us on this journey toward accessibility:
- Nigel Waring (Head of Technology at Blind Low Vision NZ) who was the first person to put accessibility on our radar 3-4 years ago.
- Louise Lum (UX and Engagement Specialist) who connected us with some accessibility stars.
- Jason Kiss (Principal Advisor Accessibility) who spent time with us, made some excellent recommendations and encouraged our improvements in this area.
- Joe Watkins (Senior Digital Accessibility Consultant) who completed the widget audit and helped us resolve the final few issues.
- And of course there are those wonderful AddressFinder developers (past and present) who have contributed to the work: Oliver Greenaway, Kate Norquay, Nigel Ramsay and Vincent Prigent.
Moving forward, we are committed to maintaining accessibility excellence for all current and future versions of the widget - to ensure all current and future AddressFinder users enjoy the best possible experience when using our verified address services.