Accessibility as a basic feature in authoring tools
Often when we train web authors in creating accessible content, someone raises the hand and ask: “I understand why this is important, and I’m happy to get to know all this. But why isn’t it already built-in to the authoring tool? I mean, why is it even possible to create inaccessible content in the first place?”
That’s actually a very good question. Authoring tools provide the opportunity for web authors to create web content without being developers, which is of course very useful. But why is the accessibility of the content up to the web author’s responsibility and competences? The tools need to provide code – so why not get it right from the start?
That’s basically the idea behind the EU-funded FEAT project (Features for Accessibility through Templates), where Funka has developed a set of fully accessible templates that anyone can use, free of charge. The templates cover all the basic functions you need for a small website, such as the framework, start page, article page, calendar functions, lists, text, images, forms, video etc. With these templates, it is possible to set up a simple information website that, for example, a local government can use. The templates do not cover more complex items such as services and interaction, but they are a good start.
The best part is that they are free for anyone to use! The templates are using as a model one of the most popular authoring tools in public sector in Europe: Optimizely. However, the built-in accessibility features can be used in any authoring tool.
The features developed in this project were created after consultation with web authors and end users from across Europe, as well as our own experience in accessibility testing. The selection process was based on the following criteria:
- Frequency of use according to web authors
- Frequency of accessibility fails that we usually detect when auditing websites
- Technical feasibility – the project is focusing on templates, the objective has not been to change the core of Episerver (or any other authoring tool)
- Perceived difficulty in making the item/function accessible, according to web authors
- Relevance for end users with disabilities
If you are an Optimizely partner or an Optimizely customer/user, this is your chance to take a big step forward when it comes to accessibility. Free of charge, easy to use. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out!
We would like to thank the European Commission for the funding of this project and also to Optimizely for supporting the marketing of the project.