However, because we are truly never satisfied, another substantial stream of work has been quietly occurring in the background that’s just as exciting and critical to OnBoard’s mission: Accessibility.
Today, we are committing to reaching WCAG 2.1 AA level of accessibility by no later than the end of 2021 .
The “why” behind accessibility is rooted in our belief in inclusiveness: Everyone should be able to serve and contribute to boards. To empower more organizations to make their boardrooms inclusive and accessible, our goal is to create the most accessible product possible
Furthermore, when we created our updated brand vision, we established several principles and promises, including the principle of simplicity. This principle specifically promises that OnBoard will provide a seamless, simple, and intuitive experience for all users – and we are putting in the work with this transformative accessibility initiative.
Simplicity – OnBoard uses an effective, uncompromising design that solves for both the practical and emotional needs of our busy end users. Complexity is progressively disclosed, step-by-step, to those who need it, resulting in a remarkably powerful, yet simple platform. The OnBoard experience is seamless, simple, and intuitive for all users – from administrators and CEOs to directors and subcommittees.
Long before the recent new brand update, accessibility was one focus of the Accelerate Release, which upgraded the technological underpinning and user experience of OnBoard. During this work, we significantly improved color contrast, overall contrast, comprehensive states for interactive elements, improved zooming behavior, and improved text element hierarchy (H1,H2,H3 etc). The outcome of these improvements is a more accessible experience for users who may experience sight impairments.
More recently, we’ve also continued to prioritize accessibility-friendly color palettes and fonts to ensure WCAG Compliance for web accessibility. Ultimately, our product and brand design teams have embraced accessibility as the primary objective and we continue to see that great design and accessibility are often one and the same.
While the early work noted above along with prioritizing accessibility, we want to do more. Additionally, as our customer base in higher education and other industries continue to indicate a clear need for additional accessibility certifications.
Luckily for our team, one of our valued customers leads a non-profit agency that serves as an advocate for those who are blind, have low vision, or are other wise sight impaired. This customer has served a new role as a valuable partner in our accessibility journey and is currently completing a formal VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) for the OnBoard web application, including recommendations for improvements. This organization will be completing additional VPAT’s in the future as we continue our work and progress forward.
In addition to this critical benchmarking effort, we are also working with a software technology partner that is driving our rapid progress towards reaching the WCAG 2.1 AA level of accessibility faster than we could have imagined.
This innovative technology will integrate seamlessly with the OnBoard board intelligence platform and allow on a per-user basis to activate a wide variety of accessibility modes including profiles for seizure safety, visual impairments, cognitive disability, users who experience ADHD, and keyboard-based navigation (for users with motor impairment). There are also dozens of customizable settings within each mode to further meet users’ needs. By partnering with an outside technology firm specializing in accessibility, we are also ensuring we will continue to have the best accessibility technology deployed and that we maintain our ongoing compliance.
While our immediate focus for the OnBoard web application product is to achieve the WCAG 2.1 AA level of accessibility, our product team continues to evaluate the future of accessibility with plans to adapt and improve OnBoard based on our users’ needs. We also will continue to make accessibility a priority when it comes to decisions around design, font, and UX (user experience) and established this as a part of our product and design planning as well as our quality assurance procedures.
Additionally, our marketing organization has begun work and the prioritization of ensuring our marketing website and outbound emails are also fully compliant in the coming months so that users can not only effectively and simply utilize the OnBoard web application; but also consume our thought leadership and informative content (like this!) without an issue.