BC tip: Barclays Center – Accessibility add-on

An accessibility widget is a potentially useful shortcut for compliance, but the ideal approach is to build accessibility into the fabric of a site’s design

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The feature

The Barclays Center, a sports arena in Brooklyn, New York, uses a widget on its website to make the site usable for visitors with special needs.

An always visible icon to the left of the screen opens a menu of options to toggle on or off, including: screen reader compatibility, keyboard navigation, a text reader, font sizes, magnification, image description and other features.

The menu also includes a link to an ‘accessibility statement’, which gives details of the changes developers made to the site.

The takeaway

Using a third-party add-on to make a website accessible could be a useful short-cut for companies that do not have the time or money to build the necessary changes into their corporate site. The ever-present widget icon demonstrates the company’s commitment to accessibility to its audiences (and perhaps regulators) for relatively little effort.

However, the corporate websites that are best at accessibility build it into the core of the design – navigation that works via keyboard, clear captions and headings, closed captions and transcripts for videos, a comprehensive and customised statement on website accessibility, providing a channel to report problems, etc. Shell’s corporate web presence remains one of the best examples we’ve come across of designing for accessibility.

The widget approach is at least ‘better than nothing’ when ‘nothing’ is too often extent of company’s efforts to make their websites accessible for everyone.

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