“The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
– Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
As organisations around the world move toward greater accessibility in the grantmaking process, it’s important to understand just how important this mission is, and how to provide equal access and opportunity to people with diverse abilities.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises access to information and communication technologies as a basic human right. And there’s never been a greater need. More than one billion people worldwide have a physical or mental disability.
Accessibility also benefits people without disabilities. During the global pandemic, for example, a large swath of the workforce now works from home, underlining the need for accessible, usable software.
But, how can you make sure your grant or funding program is accessible to all? The first place to start is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, a set of standards to make the web as accessible as possible. The latest revision, or WCAG 2.1, focuses on improvements to mobile accessibility and power with low vision or cognitive and learning disabilities.
Here is a checklist you can use to make sure your grant or funding program is accessible.
1. Provide text-to-speech labels
Many people who are visually impaired use screen readers to navigate the web so it’s important that your grant platform is set up to accommodate screen readers, which convert any text on a page to speech. The visually impaired are not the only ones who use text-to-speech technology. People with dyslexia or those who have difficulty reading text also find screen readers helpful.
Good Grants has been designed to be easily used with screen readers. For example, each element on the page has been labelled with screen readers in mind, ensuring the functional purpose is clear and the listener is able to easily discern its purpose.
2. Offer keyboard navigation
The option for keyboard navigation to your grant or funding platform is useful for people who have a physical disability or injury and can’t use a mouse.
Good Grants can be navigated entirely from a keyboard, making it possible for these users to access the platform.
3. Set up breadcrumb navigation
Breadcrumbs offer a secondary navigation aid to allow users to easily navigate back to a previous page. Just as Hansel and Gretel used breadcrumbs to trace their way back home, this type of navigation helps users trace their steps and easily go backward.
The Good Grants platform, in addition to its helpful left-hand navigation, offers a breadcrumb trail at the top of the page to help users easily navigate to a previous page. For those who use screen readers, breadcrumbs provide useful page orientation, providing location and understanding on where the user is in the page hierarchy.
4. Provide mobile accessibility
It’s no secret that mobile phones are becoming the way we communicate, socialise and conduct business. This also means that it’s likely that more people will also enter your grants or funding program on their mobile devices.
For those with visual impairments, users may want to zoom in using their web browser to see the content better.
The Good Grants platform was designed with responsiveness in mind. Users can easily zoom in and move around the platform with ease. Good Grants also offers options to upload mobile versions of your brand assets so no matter the screen size your applicants are using, your brand and platform look great.
5. Use consistent fonts
The consistent use of font is essential for people with reading disorders, learning disabilities and/or attention deficit disorder. The use of a large font for section headings is also helpful for the visually impaired.
Good Grants, for example, uses the clean and reader-friendly Open Sans font throughout the platform.
6. Use flexible colour and contrast
Colour contrast is incredibly important in providing accessibility to the online experience. Some 8% of men and 0.5% of all women worldwide suffer from red-green colour blindness.
People with low contrast sensitivity (common as we age) may have trouble seeing the buttons, links and content if there’s not enough contrast. Colour contrast can also help people who may be outside or in different lighting conditions. If you’re not sure if there is enough contrast you can use one of the colour contrast analysing tools listed by the W3C.
Good Grants provides a wide range of control over numerous elements within the interface. For example, you can change the colour of buttons, menus, text and even the colour of elements in a hovered state (the active state – like a highlighted menu label).
These options provide great flexibility to get the look you want to fit your brand and to provide better accessibility.
7. Use clear, concise and understandable content
If your content is not clear, non-native speakers and people with cognitive disabilities may find it difficult to understand.
To make your content clear and concise, consider the use of headings to make the structure and hierarchy clear, use bullet points for lists and ensure there is sufficient separation within the text. Also, avoid the use of jargon, overly complex language and unexplained acronyms.
Take advantage of multimedia options such as video or audio to provide details about your program. And try to avoid presenting all your content upfront. For example, Good Grants offers a number of content block locations to share information with your users where they need it. For example, you can use a content block shown only after application submission to provide information applicants need only after submission. And, each field in the Good Grants application form has the option to add hint text in addition to the name of the field. This can be used to elaborate on what is required and link to additional information if required.
You can also configure various terms and interface text to align with the terminology of your program. For example, your program may use the term “nominations” rather than the default term “application”. Ensure any changes you make are easy to understand and consistent across your account to avoid confusion.
Good Grants is accessible
Good Grants is constantly innovating and improving, and some of our latest product improvements help us comply with WCAG 2.1. Here are a few of our most recent accessibility improvements:
- Hoverable / dismissable popovers. Users can now hover over a popover with the mouse or push escape to dismiss it. This is important for users who may not be able to read the full text in the popover because they have zoomed in with their browser.
- Zoom improvements. We removed the sticky tab from the single column view in the application form. Users with vision impairment often zoom in with their browser window and depending on their browser width, will switch to a single column view.
- Colour and button improvements: There’s now a hover colour on menu items that have keyboard focus and we made buttons more recognisable to screen readers.
Your grants program: welcoming to all
Web accessibility doesn’t only help those with disabilities, it helps everyone.
By using the built-in accessibility functions of Good Grants and following a few best practices, you can put inclusivity at the forefront of your grants program. It’s not simply about compliance, it’s about people.