We are deeply committed to ensuring the accessibility of our platform for all learners. For us, accessibility is far more than a box to check; it is a condition of genuine and inclusive community-building. Since community-building is part and parcel of Yellowdig's mission, so is accessibility.
Our goal is WCAG 2.1 AA compliance with minimal exceptions. This is a lofty goal for a complex website, and companies with far greater resources than Yellowdig have failed to meet far more basic standards. While we believe our level of accessibility is strong in this space, accessibility will always be a work in progress. This is as it should be. Maintaining a culture of accessibility requires far more than filling out the occasional VPAT. It requires conscientious development, continuous computerized and manual checking, and rapid resolutions to accessibility issues in response to clients' observations.
Yellowdig adheres to an Agile development methodology. Coupled with our robustly accessible infrastructure, this method allows us to remediate accessibility issues very quickly. The downside of having a continuously developed platform is that it is nearly impossible to ensure 100% WCAG 2.1 AA compliance at every stage of the development cycle. That said, practicing Agility gives us the ability to quickly adapt to new accessibility standards and make "just in time" adjustments. In short, Agility makes us more responsive to the specific needs of the individual students and instructors we serve.
Accessibility is both a point of pride and a constant work in progress for the Yellowdig team. Below, we summarize our efforts to ensure accessibility and outline our areas of strength and known weaknesses. We aim to be transparent about our history, our current processes, and our plans for the future.
How Yellowdig Maintains Accessibility: A Timeline
- February 2018: Our development team conducted research for the next generation of Yellowdig, Yellowdig Engage.
- April 2018: Yellowdig added an accessibility specialist to the development team. To this day, he continues to work and consult for Yellowdig.
- May 2018: The development team began building Yellowdig Engage. Our accessibility specialist started working on Engage during Summer 2018. (Note: Yellowdig Engage's codebase is completely separate from that of Yellowdig Classic. Engage was built from the ground up.)
- August 2018: One of our university partners started conducting accessibility testing on the Engage platform.
- April 30, 2019: On the heels of a 2018 VPAT, we completed our most recent VPAT (available upon request) for Yellowdig Engage. Our results relied on manual software probes (i.e., human scans) and computerized scans. At the time, we claimed WCAG 2.1 Level A conformance (with partial exceptions for predictability on input) and WCAG 2.1 Level AA conformance (with partial exceptions for identifying input purpose, resizing text, reflow, and focus visibility).
- Since completing the VPAT, we have made significant accessibility improvements along many success criteria, including resizing text, reflow, and focus visibility. We have paid special attention to mobile views in our recent accessibility efforts.
- Between April 30, 2019 and today: This has been a period of rapid development. With development comes the possibility of regression. To minimize regressions, we conduct computerized scans using WAVE and aXe and perform manual spot checks. We are considering ways to codify these processes.
- For many of our newer features, we have created hidden feature flags. These flags allow us to quickly turn off beta features as well as features that have not yet undergone rigorous accessibility testing.
- Given our history of active development and responsiveness to client needs, accessibility-related regressions are inevitable. That said, we believe that admin- and instructor-facing pages are currently more susceptible to regression than student-facing pages.
- In our estimation, the most significant known issue pertains to the captions (prerecorded) criterion. Our Record Video feature (which can be disabled via a feature flag) is not currently accompanied by a captioning tool. Captioning is both expensive and technologically difficult; even Google struggles to reliably generate accurate transcripts. Nevertheless, we are committed to providing a satisfactory solution. Interested clients are welcome and encouraged to collaborate with us on potential integrations with third-party video platforms, as we are currently in the market for viable solutions.
Current State of the Platform
- Below, we describe our achievements in the domains of motor, visual, auditory, and cognitive accessibility.
- We make no pretense to completeness, and our generalizations may have exceptions.
- Essential platform elements—including forms, tooltips, modal windows, toggles, and filters—are navigable by keyboard alone.
- Essential student-facing functions—including posting, commenting, and formatting text—can be performed by voice alone. (Tested with Mac Voice Command and Safari. Some operations may require custom commands.)
- Focused elements are clearly highlighted throughout.
- Skip links facilitate more efficient tabbed navigation.
- Students can perform essential functions with screen-readers and keyboard navigation alone. (Tested with VoiceOver. Other screen-reading technologies can be tested upon request.)
- Form controls and headers facilitate faster VoiceOver-assisted rotor navigation.
- Non-text navigation elements have text overlays.
- Text searches and filters are available throughout the platform.
- Platform adapts to 400% zoom.
- Color does not single-handedly convey information.
- Color contrasts generally conform to WCAG 2.1 AA standards.
- Users can add alt-text to videos recorded inside the platform, to uploaded videos, and to other uploaded files.
- Audio does not play automatically when users scroll through their feeds.
- In-platform copy is simple and contains limited jargon.
- Menus and submenus are reasonably uncluttered and have few children.
- Comment threading increases tractability of conversations.
- Users can simplify their feeds by filtering and collapsing posts.
Areas of Improvement
- Videos recorded inside the platform are not auto-captioned. As a temporary alternative, users can embed or link to videos that have been auto-captioned by other tools (e.g., YouTube, Kaltura).
- Inserting certain emojis violates WCAG 2.1 AA color contrast standards.
- At least some date pickers are having trouble with VoiceOver (e.g., reading the wrong dates).
- More skip links for tabbed navigation would improve usability. (The post toolbar is particularly tricky to navigate. We currently use Quill, which is difficult to customize.)
- Reduced animation and dark modes would improve accessibility.
If you detect any other accessibility-related issues, please do not hesitate to notify us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For significant issues, we will provide short- and long-term paths to remediation.