EventsAir continuing to focus on accessibility in 2023
Welcome to 2023! I realize that we have been quiet in the past 2 months, but we will endeavor to bring you more news and insights into what we are up to on our blog as we get into the new year.
On the product front, the last 2 months have seen our development team particularly busy with the release of V15 of EventsAir in December 2022. This was a significant release which was 12 months in the making and included scores of new features and fixes for our customers. Our attention now turns to several new and critical product initiatives which we will keep you posted on as they evolve. These include the development of a Public API, technology updates on how we deliver Custom Development, our mobile Attendee App and one that I want to cover in detail in this blog, an update on our accessibility roadmap.
With the numerous changes and distractions in 2022, I will be the first to admit that we lost some momentum in the work that has been ongoing with our accessibility roadmap, but we remain highly committed to making tangible improvements in this space. For those who have been on the journey with EventsAir prior to Covid, we embarked on a detailed roadmap forming strong ties with Dr. Scott Hollier of the Centre for Accessibility Australia. This included numerous internal and external audits. Having brought onboard a dedicated accessibility engineer on contract over this time, we used the V12 release of EventsAir to bring together several important accessibility updates for our customers. These included:
- Replacement of multiple User Interface (UI) controls that provide enhanced accessibility options. For example, the date picker was replaced with a vastly improved accessibility option that is keyboard operable and screen reader friendly.
- Improved color contrast enhancements to provide maximum contrast so that text and non-decorative images are legible for anyone with low vision or color deficiencies (including tooltips, buttons, headings and more).
- Added and enhanced alt-text (alternative text) and ARIA tags/attributes for improved experience for users who use assistive technologies (screen readers).
- Improved keyboard accessibility for enhanced navigation and operability through a keyboard interface. For example, tooltips, checkboxes, and radio buttons now have improved keyboard focus and tooltips could previously only have focus using a mouse.
- Updates to default theme colors for the OnAIR Portal to meet color contrast criteria/requirements.
- Additional attributes (tabindex, maincontent, navigation roles) and changes implemented to improve the way users find and traverse the pages and components for Interactive Sites and OnAIR (improved screen reader experience).
- AIRCast Studio and Stream to AV Partners – Live Sign Language Interpretation.
- AIRCast Studio and Stream to AV Partner – Live Audio Language Interpretation
- AIRCast Studio – Closed Captioning
Further enhancements were forthcoming in our V15 release, including the Remote Attendee Mode. Although this feature was not strictly WCAG-related, it provides a more widely accessible option for various remote attendees and a far more intuitive way to consume content which many of our customers had requested.
So where to now in 2023 for accessibility?
We have made it clear with our latest Accessibility Statement that our goal is to comply with WCAG 2.1 AA standard (and Section 508 for our US customers). In addition to product updates, we also work in partnership with our customers in providing guides on how to develop interactive/registration sites to meet a high level of accessibility requirements. These guides are now 18 months old, so we are in the process of updating these to provide enhanced directives for customers building such sites. We are also mindful that our Attendee App is based on an aging technology platform and that makes it a challenge for us to easily deploy accessibility features that are now provided by default through some of the latest iOS and Android technology platforms. We remain committed to an update of our Attendee App in 2023 and will be providing more guidance on timeframe, progress and availability as we charge into the year.
Stay tuned for our next blog as we share some very exciting news about our development team and a new appointment, which will help accelerate many new and important product updates in 2023.