What is digital accessibility?

Accessibility is the simplicity of access to services, tools, and content and is not dependent on an individual’s use of assistive technology. It is a term meaning equity in access - regardless of a user's ability, the available technology should increase access rather than prevent it. Creating accessibility within a platform means that advancing technology promotes access rather than hinders it. Digital accessibility is a core focus of the Accredible platform and we regularly assess and review our products and tools to ensure a positive user experience. 

Digital accessibility compliance is measured against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 to three levels: A, AA, and AAA. Each level includes incremental Success Criteria around accessibility that must be met to ensure conformance. For example in the guidelines for distinguishing content: 

  • Level A requires information to be conveyed without relying on the use of color
  • Level AA ensures that all color used meets a minimum contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 to ensure legibility
  • Level AAA requires a minimum contrast ratio of 7:1 to be compliant for legibility

Full details on the Success Criteria for meeting WCAG 2.1 is available here.

Section 508 ensures information and communication technology provided by the federal government meets the digital accessibility requirements. To ensure compliance with Section 508, federal agencies must ensure the available technology is safe and accessible for users with disabilities or impairments. 

Further information on Section 508 and the GSA Government-wide IT Accessibility Program is available here.

Why is digital accessibility important?

When equal opportunity is centered, everyone wins. The United Nations reports that ‘around 15% of the world’s population, or an estimated 1 billion people, live with disabilities. They are the world’s largest minority.’ 

Digital accessibility is important as it ensures that everyone has equal access to tools and services that improve quality of life. We all experience varying circumstances in life that may impact how we use and access tools. Disability and impairment affect our ability to work, learn, and socialize online. When we make more room at the table to include all ranges of ability, our corner of the world becomes a better place. 

Everyone is sharpened by this innovation, and previously impossible relationships are forged in integrity. Removing friction from the user experience is paramount, and tools that facilitate a seamless connection for all, regardless of ability, enrich the digital community. 

How does Accredible adhere to the four principles of digital accessibility?

The four principles of accessibility provide a compass for the creation of an equitable platform. These principles are listed in the acronym ‘POUR.’ Those letters make the words perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. When utilized correctly, these principles provide the foundation for a platform that can be accessed by everyone, regardless of ability. 

A perceivable website means that the interface can be viewed by everyone. This means that the user interface is easy to navigate and assistive technology is available for things like auto-translation. 

An observable website means that users have access to all keyboard functionalities. Those who are visually impaired will rely on a keyboard as opposed to a mouse when navigating a website. A platform that complies with this principle anticipates this issue and provides access accordingly.

An understandable website displays content that is easy to understand and consistent in voice and tone. This means that there is no jargon or usage of acronyms that will confuse users, and the language is delivered in a way that is easy to grasp. 

A robust website provides all of the accessibility items listed above. It doesn’t require a certain browser or operating system to access the site. And users are able to use any combination of assistive technologies from screen readers to keyboard navigation. 

How do we ensure digital accessibility?

Our product is assessed by a third-party accredited by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP). This involves testing the functionality of the platform across multiple browsers and assistive technologies to ensure compatibility. The assessment feedback is applied to all aspects of the Accredible platform. This happens alongside our own internal code analysis which includes manual and automated testing to identify any outstanding accessibility issues. 

For more information on the accessibility features Accredible has provided to address Section 508 and WCAG 2.1 (A and AA) accessibility requirements, here are our voluntary product accessibility templates (VPAT):

The VPATs listed here apply to Accredible’s sites that an end-user (credential recipient) uses to view, share, and update credentials they have received.

How does Accredible maintain digital accessibility?

To ensure accessibility across all of our products, Accredible is committed to satisfying WCAG 2.1 guidelines to AA level. Our product engineers work hard to maintain high accessibility standards and compatibility across assistive technology and accommodate the details required for compliance. 

Our responsibility for meeting level AA includes:

  • Sufficient color contrast ratios and focus indicators that assist users with color blindness or reduced visibility
  • Legibility of on-page content with page styling removed or disabled
  • Use of color that doesn’t impede the user, affect readability, or lead to restricted understanding of the content
  • Screen-reader navigability support enables users that are blind or severely visually impaired to use all functions of the recipient user experience with audio-description. This ensures:
    • Page structures make sense when read aloud with no visual guidance
    • Content that appears on hover or focus provides relevant context
    • Hover or focused content can be dismissed on demand (without moving the keyboard or mouse focus)
  • Content and animations are presented without potential visual obscurities
  • Headings, labels, links, and forms are tagged to describe their purpose when viewed using screen-reader navigation and other assistive technologies

Accredible knows the best practice for accessibility around digital credentials is ensuring anyone can access their digital certificate or badge. Alongside compliance with WCAG 2.1 and Section 508, the platform includes:

  • Removal of sign-in walls and account creation that blocks credential access
  • Ability for third parties to view and verify credentials without gating
  • Compatibility across popular devices including smartphones and tablets
  • Support for Digital Wallet Cards for taking credentials on the go
  • One-click verification process - instant verification with no waiting or delay
  • Ability to send PDF credentials for recipients with little or no technology experience

Competing platforms restrict credential access behind account creation or require relinquished control over social accounts to share. Accredible provides immediate access to credentials without the hassle of creating an account. We designed the Accredible platform without barriers to access or entry for everyone and will continue to maintain accessibility to enterprise-level standards.

For organizations that serve a varying demographic of ages and abilities, the Accredible platform ensures everyone can enjoy a seamless recipient experience. Our customer service team also plays a huge role in helping customers of all abilities. From our chat service to professional services, we are always eager to go the extra mile to ensure a smooth journey.  

Summary

We take the issue of accessibility very seriously and this reflects within every facet of our platform. Our Accredible community should be able to access our services regardless of abilities related to speech, hearing, vision, age, or location. Digital credentials are for everybody, and, along with our high levels of security, we successfully achieved SOC2 Type 2 AICPA certification in Q1 2021. 

Constant innovation is vital, and we are committed to updating our accessibility services as the world changes for the better. Our work is never done, and we want to achieve compatibility as standards evolve. 

Talk to the enterprise sales team today for more information about how digital credentials support high-level strategies.

Further Reading

Compare the Accredible platform against other credentialing software with ease using the Digital Credential Feature Checklist. Use the downloadable checklist to:

  • Reduce research time
  • Identify must-have features
  • Inform decision-makers

The checklist enables an objective look at dedicated credentialing software to understand whether they will create real value for the organization.

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