DO-IT Scholars Create a More Accessible Web

By Anna Marie Golden, ATS Staff

DO-IT Summer study helps Scholars prepare for success in college and careers. Scholars have been coming to the University of Washington campus every summer since 1993 (attending virtually in recent years due to the pandemic) to get a mini experience of what it’s like to go to college. Scholars who came to Summer Study in July of this year participated in a two-week web accessibility class where they learned the basics of how to check websites for accessibility, conducted accessibility reviews of UW websites, and shared their findings with actual UW clients.

Scholars split into two groups and each group was assigned a “client” from the University of Washington community. UW clients included the Meany Center for the Performing Arts and the UW Counseling Center. The Meany Center is a performing arts center located on the University of Washington. The Counseling Center is a confidential mental health service available to all currently enrolled UW students.

Scholars reviewed their respective client’s websites for issues that can impact users with various disabilities in their ability to navigate a web page. They inspected several elements of web pages to assess accessibility including heading structure of web pages, alt text for images, contrast of colors used, and visual indication of focus. Scholars documented issues they found and each group reported their findings out to their respective clients.

Jen Nguyen with the Counselling Center is working in the confines of a website that is part of a larger website to incorporate Scholar feedback, especially with an inaccessible “Need for urgent help” feature for crisis services.

Michaela Marino with the Meany Center is working to update the font size on the website along with improving color contrast, and ARIA landmarks, among other accessibility considerations. They will be diving into user research and explore important conversations about how to make their content more accessible ahead of a new site rebuild.

It’s exciting to see Scholar feedback having a real-world impact. Even though Web Accessibility may not have been their favorite Summer Study experience, Scholars helped make the experience better for people who have barriers to navigating the web.