Building Apps for Accessibility and Inclusive Design
Last Thursday I gave a webinar presentation to the Mendix audience to introduce the ideas of accessibility and inclusive design and how they relate to design and building apps. You can view the webinar here at Mendix.
How do Mendix apps stand in terms of accessibility?
Mendix is committed to improving the accessibility of apps created with the Mendix Platform by supporting WCAG 2.0 guidelines, which also brings support for ADA and Section 508 compliance.
Further improvements for support of WCAG 2.0 guidelines are included on our roadmap. Specific accessibility issues reported to Mendix will be treated as bugs and solved with high priority. Since not all success criteria can be used with all types of content and Mendix is an application development platform that supports custom user interface development; many guidelines are dependent on implementation and content. Compliance to accessibility standards is the responsibility of the application developers using the platform.
When designing or developing your application, use the following resources to reference accessibility guidelines, techniques, and possible solutions:
W3C’s customizable quick reference to WCAG 2.0lets you filter through guidelines based on the level of compliance, discipline, techniques, and technology.
WebAIM’s WCAG checklist is a simplified checklist of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines that includes some recommendations on how to meet them.
WUCHAG 2.0 checklist is a set of simplified checklists of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines for each level of adherence, with a helpful article for each guideline.
The Mendix Platform supports collaboration between teams and users to help design, build, and test applications. We advise teams to work collaboratively to evaluate which criteria are relevant to their application and how they want to consistently design and build to meet those criteria.
With customization of our Atlas UI framework, styling can be set to meet WCAG criteria. Through the use of our navigation and page layout features, along with our options to create reusable building blocks, snippets, and theme resources, teams can build apps with consistent layouts and components to meet WCAG criteria. Our living style guide and starter app tools can help document and share best practices amongst teams to help them create apps faster.
The Mendix Platform is not yet fully compliant with ARIA support for assistive devices like screen readers. Further implementation of ARIA Roles and supporting accessibility requirements is currently on our roadmap. The Set Attribute widget, publicly available in the App Store, has been updated to help users apply attributes to components, including ALT values and ARIA-related attributes. We will be sharing documentation on how to use the updated widget for this purpose. We are also working toward improving support for keyboard interactions and tabbing across all our core widgets.
The set attribute widget can be found here:
We are currently evaluating which automated accessibility tools can work well Mendix apps. The single-URL structure of Mendix apps can make it difficult for some tools, like SiteImprove, to crawl an entire application, but their Chrome extension and similar tools can help evaluate individual pages. Keep in mind that no single tool is able to identify all issues and some tools have inaccuracies. We advise an approach that uses a combination of automated tools and manual testing to help you improve your accuracy and coverage of accessibility compliance.
We are working to make it easier for Mendix developers to achieve level AA compliance of the WCAG 2.0 and encourage people to report specific accessibility issues to Mendix. Such issues will be treated as bugs and solved with high priority.
Other tools mentioned in the webinar:
We evaluate your color combination using the WCAG 2.0 guidelines for contrast accessibility.
If your combination does not meet the guidelines, we find the closest accessible combination by modifying the color lightness.
Color Oracle is a free color blindness simulator for Windows, Mac and Linux. It takes the guesswork out of designing for color blindness by showing you in real time what people with common color vision impairments will see.
Microsoft Inclusive Design Toolkit
This manual is a comprehensive introduction to the world of inclusive design. Learn the basics and shift your design thinking toward universal solutions.
The A11Y Project
Accessibility can be a complex and difficult topic. The Accessibility Project understands this and wants to help make it easier to implement on the web. Our goal is to accomplish this with three principles in mind.