Accessibility for Everyone
We are committed to delivering experiences that are accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of their ability or the technology they use. We work closely with our client partners to ensure everything we build together follows the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Level AA standards or, when possible, Level AAA standards. Through professional certifications, internal training, and thought leadership, we are committed to expanding the ways in which accessible technology can create a more equitable world.
Our Culture of Accessibility
All staff receive accessibility training appropriate to their role: high-level, foundational training for non-developers, and advanced, practical training for developers. We also have a dedicated Accessibility Specialist on staff who holds the highest certification offered by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) and has extensive experience in web accessibility, including desktop, mobile, document, multimedia, and general digital accessibility. In addition, we have an Accessibility Team that is responsible for defining accessibility services and education within Four Kitchens. This team recommends policy, develops in-house accessibility trainings and documentation, researches third-party accessibility augmentation services (captioning, testing, etc.), and promotes awareness and participation in accessibility events.
Helping and Educating Our Client Partners
We work with a wide range of client partners who are mandated to comply with WCAG or Section 508 guidelines. We work to inform all our clients about both the benefits of building with accessibility in mind and the risks associated with not doing so and encourage all our clients to build solutions that are barrier-free.
Ensuring Accessibility Throughout Our Process
Our commitment to accessibility begins at our hiring processes. We look not just for deep knowledge and advanced skill sets, but also for values. Having empathy for our fellow humans is the cornerstone in understanding the principles of accessibility. Employees with an accessibility mindset are open and eager to learn the methods of building more inclusive products.
We lead internal training programs that raise awareness of the variety of disabilities that exist and how they affect how a person uses a website. Once that foundation is laid, the specific guidelines such as Section 508 and WCAG are introduced. Eventually, accessibility becomes a development style of following best practices rather than a checklist, and tools become a quick way to validate work rather than a crutch used to bypass the need for understanding.
The Accessibility Services We Provide
If you’re worried your existing site isn’t accessible—and is a lawsuit waiting to happen—we can audit your site for issues related to a wide range of disabilities: blindness, low vision, deafness, hard of hearing, and impaired mobility.
Auditing every single page is usually cost-prohibitive, so we begin by determining the scope of the audit. This includes reviewing the sitemap, traffic stats, page templates, and content types.
We then test the site against either WCAG 2.1 Level AA or Section 508 standards. This is done through a combination of automated and manual testing, including browser plugins, browser and OS settings, keyboard-only navigation, and screen reader software. In some cases, we enlist a partner to provide hands-on testing by users with disabilities.
Finally, we deliver an Accessibility Audit that includes descriptions of the issues we found, the specific guidelines they violate, the suggested remedial actions, and levels of priority for addressing them as determined by their impact, severity, and prevalence. In some cases, we recommend an expanded audit that identifies inaccessible practices in your content and editorial workflows.
Trusted Tester Audits
In addition to Accessibility Audits, we offer Trusted Tester Audits, which uses a specific, certified approach for determining whether a website conforms to Section 508 standards. The Trusted Tester certification is administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Accessible Systems & Technology (OAST). To serve our government and federally funded clients, we have a Trusted Tester on staff who is certified to provide accurate Section 508 accessibility assessments.
We can remediate your site based on the issues identified in an accessibility audit. We can help you correct the underlying HTML, produce captions and transcripts for audio and video content, and produce accessible downloadable documents.
We can also provide your editors with documentation or training on best practices to help prevent accessibility issues from being introduced as content is updated or added to your site.
Accessibility Design Review
To avoid costly remediation or litigation, designs should be reviewed for accessibility best practices prior to being built. This includes wireframes, style guides, mockups and all design-related assets. While all of the designs we produce are reviewed by an accessibility expert, some clients prefer to have their own teams or other agencies handle design. In those cases, we are happy to offer an Accessibility Design Review. This includes:
- Identifying problematic design, interaction patterns, or functionality that may be difficult to build in an accessible way within your budget.
- Annotating how the page/components should be marked up for optimum semantics and structure. This allows screen reader users (and Google!) to better understand what the page is about.
- Providing best practices for developers to implement widgets such as carousels and accordions.
- Ensuring that all non-decorative elements on the page can be conveyed via text.
- Making sure that links can be easily identified and their text is unambiguous to screen reader users.
- Examining complicated data tables and determining the best markup for ease of navigation and understanding for non-visual users.