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. Better codifying these processes is an area of development.
- 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 significant accessibility testing.
- Given our history of active development and responsiveness to client needs, accessibility-related regressions are inevitable. When making accessibility improvements, we give priority to core platform functions.
- 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. Automatic captioning is both expensive and technologically difficult; even Google struggles to reliably generate accurate transcripts. Nevertheless, we are committed to providing a satisfactory solution.
- December 2020: We released a revamped UI that introduced significant cognitive accessibility improvements.
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 or perfect accuracy. At the time of writing, there are known minor exceptions to the items below.
- 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. (Some operations may require custom commands.)
- Focused elements are highlighted throughout.
- Skip links and collapsible side-navigation facilitate more efficient tabbed navigation.
- Hover text is provided for icons and buttons with non-obvious functionality.
Navigating Yellowdig via keyboard alone
- Students can perform essential functions with screen-readers and keyboard navigation alone. We do not guarantee compatibility with every browser or screen-reader. To maximize visual accessibility, we recommend using Safari and VoiceOver (if using a Mac) or Edge and Narrator (if using a PC).
- Form controls and headers facilitate faster VoiceOver-assisted rotor navigation.
- Text searches and filters are available throughout the platform.
- Platform adapts to 400% zoom.
- Color does not single-handedly convey essential information.
- Color contrasts generally conform to WCAG 2.1 AA standards.
Interacting with Feed via VoiceOver
Interacting with navigation elements via VoiceOver
- 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.
Known Issues and Exceptions
- 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).
- A few navigation elements that tabbing "skips over" were recently identified. (Go to time 0:20 in "Interacting with navigation...".)
- Some non-verbal symbols lack hover text. (Go to time 0:50 in "Navigating Yellowdig via keyboard...".)
- Some navigation elements are insufficiently highlighted. (Go to time 0:20 in "Interacting with navigation...".)
- At-mentions currently violate WCAG 2.1 AA color contrast standards.
- Inserting certain emojis violates WCAG 2.1 AA color contrast standards.
- At least some date pickers struggle with VoiceOver (e.g., reading the wrong dates).
- Reduced animation and dark modes would improve accessibility, though we are currently working on implementing reduced motion settings.
If you detect any other accessibility-related issues, please do not hesitate to notify us at email@example.com. For significant issues, we will provide short- and long-term paths to remediation.