The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL) is committed to ensuring our website is as accessible as possible for all users. To achieve this, a new website was created by the Nova Scotia website development company, Municipal Website Venture, and it was audited for barriers throughout the development process, by the Canadian digital accessibility company, Access Changes Everything.
Access Changes Everything conducted a full audit of the public facing website from March to May 2020. This audit consisted of Access Changes Everything using multiple automated checkers, and conducting extensive manual testing. As well, testing was conducted by paid testers with different disabilities, who used different technologies.
This audit was focused on lower barriers on the website for people with different disabilities, such as visual, hearing, mobility, speech, communication, cognitive, neurological, intellectual, learning, and those with multiple disabilities.
This audit was done using the international standard that relates to website accessibility, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 and 2.2 Level AA. Note that Version 2.2 was only in Draft, as of May 2020.
The audit went much further than WCAG 2.1 or WCAG 2.2 (Draft) Level AA. It included items that are not currently included in WCAG, such colour blindness, font type and style, and lessening barriers that impact people with cognitive, neurological, intellectual and/or learning disabilities. The audit also included usability best practices, in order to make the site more accessible and usable for everyone.
The audit included testing of these areas:
- Textual Content
- Image Content
- Video and Audio Content
- Colour in Content and Design
- Page and Content Layout
- Page and Content Design
- Search Functions
- Widgets and Plug Ins
- Forms and Error Mechanisms
- Content Structure
- HTML and CSS Code Use
Testers and Technologies Used
Access Changes Everything paid multiple testers with different disabilities, who use different technologies, to test different parts of the website. The technologies used by testers included the newest, as well as older, versions of:
- JAWS Screen Reader in Chrome and Internet Explorer Browsers (PC)
- NVDA Screen Reader in Chrome and Firefox Browsers (PC)
- Microsoft Narrator Screen Reader in EDGE (Tablet)
- Apple VoiceOver Screen Reader in Safari (iPhone 6)
- Apple VoiceOver Screen Reader in Safari with 40 Cell Braille Display (Mac)
- Apple VoiceOver Screen Reader in Safari with 40 Cell Braille Display (iPad Pro)
- Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 13 (PC)
Access Changes Everything used Mac, PC and iPhone to test the site with Chrome and Firefox browsers. Certain technologies were used in the audit:
- Browser magnification (100%-400%)
- Colour contrast shifting
- Voice control (iPhone only)
- Small screen (iPhone SE or 5 only)
- Various apps and plug ins for Mac Chrome and Firefox to simulate visual and cognitive disabilities.
Almost all the barriers noted in the audit report were either eliminated, or acceptable workarounds were suggested by Access Changes Everything. However, there were some barriers that could not be fully eliminated. Some of these barriers were found in third party vendor plug ins. Not all vendors, or developers, could make their product more accessible by the end of the audit period. These vendors have been notified, and have been asked to make their plug ins more accessible.
The following barriers in vendor plug ins were noted in May 2020:
- The JCal Pro calendar plug in was used on the Community Events Calendar page. It is from the third party vendor JoomlaShack. The testers with disabilities, and Access Changes Everything’s manual testing, noted that this calendar was complex, and had partial barriers to use. Minor changes were made to the script, and they eliminated some barriers. However, for the remaining barriers, the vendor was unable to make changes to this plug in.
Information could be accessed by testers in the calendar format (month in calendar format button), but it was very difficult and time consuming. The List View option was preferred by testers for ease of use. Another issue noted by testers was that the calendar date picker was not accessible, or was partially accessible.
The workaround was to make the List View as the default mode for everyone, and a button can be pressed to change into the calendar by month format mode. Plus, text was added at the top of the page to explain that the calendar can be viewed in calendar or list format (to make it more clear there were two formats available), and that the months could be chosen by going month to month, or using the date picker (located in the middle of the two month buttons and just indicated by a down arrow).
One other issue noted with this calendar plug in was that the colour contrast of grey on grey for months (example: May 2020 and July 2020 noted on the June calendar) did not pass the WCAG 2.1 AA colour contrast ratio.
- The main search box at the top of each web page was created by Google. This Google Search mechanism was chosen because testers preferred it over the original search mechanism. However, the search box was created by Google in a table, and it lacks a full label. Testers were able to access the search box, and perform searches, even with these barriers. No workaround was suggested, as Google is responsible for this product.
- The slide show slider widget used on the Main Page, created by the third party vendor Smart Slider 3, was tested and audited. However, a change was made to the script after this full audit was completed. Limited testing by done by Access Changes Everything. However, two testers with different disabilities, using screen readers, tested the new slider mechanism and no barriers were noted.
- The plug in DJ-Megamenu, by third party vendor DJ-Extensions, is currently not fully accessible. This plug in was used for the main menu area (including the hamburger menu on mobile, small screens and magnification over 125%). Minor fixes were made, but it may appear ‘jumpy’ and be hard to use for those who are on mobile, small screens, use magnification over 125%, and/or for those who have limited mobility and/or cognitive, neurological, intellectual and/or learning disabilities. The vendor has been contacted.
- The plug in DOCman, by third party vendor JoomlaTools, has been used on certain web pages to dynamically generate content. It also creates a ‘container’ or layout, for this content on the web page. For example, a table was formed by DOCman for the layout of PDF links on the Building Permits and Associated Forms page. The table has an empty column and no table header, and this could provide a barrier to screen reader users, who have limited or no sight. A table should not have been used for this content. Instead, a list should have been created for the PDF links. In all cases where DOCman is active, the content itself can still be accessed, but it is made slightly more difficult. The vendor has been contacted, and this is being explored.
- The DOCman plug in also generates main title headings on each page of the website. All have been given a Heading 1 designation in the HTML code (<h1>). However, screen reader users may hear a space before and after the title. These spaces are created by the plug in. The vendor has been contacted, and this is being explored.
- The OSMap plug in, by third party vendor JoomlaShack, was used to create the Site Map content. In the audit, it was noted that there were no headings for categories of links, in the very long link list (<h2>). The Site Map information can still be accessed, even without these headings. However, the vendor has been notified about the changes requested.
There were other barriers found that were not part of vendor plug ins. These are being worked on by MODL, as MODL is continually seek solutions to make their website barrier free. These were the non-vendor related barriers found in May 2020:
- The form script used on the MODL eNews Subscription Service is inaccessible for screen reader users without sight or with limited sight, and for voice control or voice recognition users. This is a priority, and the form will be replaced very soonwith an accessible vendor plug in. Workaround suggested by Access Changes Everything until the form replacement, is for users to contact MODL directly to subscribe to eNews.
- All PDF documents on the website need to be remediated, as they may not be accessible for users. This is a priority item. Workaround suggested by Access Changes Everything is that users contact MODL for alternate documents and/or content, until barriers can be eliminated.
- The top banner area with links (Contact, Skip to Content, Site Map, Home) is harder to read if magnification of 400% is used. The four individual links (three on the home page) are harder to distinguish from each other at this magnification level. No workaround proposed, but this will be reviewed in future.
The website audit found many barriers, and these have been eliminated. However, the website will be constantly updated, and new barriers may unknowingly be created. If you find barriers, or need accommodations, please contact us.