Improving accessibility for the Internet Society

An elevated digital presence with a more accessible, user-friendly website, enhancing global engagement and inclusivity

Internet Society

4 mins read

Ladies gather round table smiling

Four women looking at an LTE Base Station used for 4G connectivity and smiling. © Elyse Butler for Internet Society

The outcomes

The background

The Internet Society is a global nonprofit organisation championing the internet as a force for good and helping to close the digital divide.

Together with partners and member organisations they’re working to ensure the internet is open, globally connected, secure and trustworthy. So that everyone can benefit from the opportunities it provides, no matter where in the world they are.

Open and accessible to all

Openness and accessibility are at the heart of the Internet Society’s mission. They knew their own website could be doing better in some key areas, and they were keen to ensure they were practising what they preach. We were asked to help them take on the challenge of making both the website, and the content they produce more accessible.

To get a clearer understanding of the core issues and where improvements could be made, we proposed carrying out a detailed audit of general accessibility, site performance and content.

Project goals

A roadmap to WCAG compliance

As part of our structured approach, we first swept through the list of URLs using an automated tool (Pa11y) to check accessibility and HTML validation. With these results in hand, we then manually visited each page using voice over and keyboard controls, an emulated high contrast mode, and with an accessibility insights extension. This allowed us to pick up on a number additional issues that were not flagged during the automated testing. We also produced a bundle of web performance reports to give us further insight into the issues.

The information was fed into our report spreadsheet with each issue clearly marked with its severity level, proposed fixes, difficulty estimate and WCAG criteria. We explained the practical impact of these problems on users and why this was important, to emphasise exactly why these issues needed to be fixed. This provided the Internet Society with a deeper understanding of the problems highlighted, and a clear checklist of fixes to work through. Not only will this help improve the accessibility of the site, but it will also enable them to become fully WCAG compliant.

Navigation systems like menus are one of the most important components of a website, but many organisations struggle to get it right, and especially when it comes to accessibility. Navigation was one of the main areas we identified issues with for the Internet Society. The sub-menus were not keyboard accessible, and there were also issues with link focus highlighting. Many people use a keyboard when navigating websites, whether by need or just personal preference, so this was a major issue that needed fixing right away.

We suggested that a separate toggle for each sub-menu should be added, so that they can be reliably expanded on touch devices and with keyboard interactions. We also noted that the outline of all main navigation links should be shown when focused. This helps improve accessibility by allowing keyboard users to quickly identify which link is currently selected by their tab key. Without a focus outline, keyboard users will have no indication of which link they have focused on the page.

Connecting through content

Content is a crucial part of a user’s experience of a website, so it's important that it’s accessible too. Using a variety of automated tools, plus expert analysis of style, grammar and language, we ranked each page across a range of key areas. This highlighted where the major issues were with content, and allowed us to focus on solutions that would provide the greatest benefit.

Our findings made it clear there was no consistent tone of voice, and that a lot of content wasn’t meeting plain English standards. To fix this, we recommended the creation of a formal content style guide, and reworking their existing best practice documents. This would then feed into a full site rewrite. A clearer voice and simplified language will allow the Internet Society to better connect with its audience, and help get its message across in a more consistent way.

Alongside the content audit, we also provided a number of practical examples to show exactly how existing content could be improved using the recommendations.

The Audit was very comprehensive and resourceful, including recommendations to fix issues, references on tools used and related WCAG criteria, readability and usability scores for content pieces. Based on the audit, we mapped out the plan for implementing the fixes and we are actively working toward ensuring that more pages on our site are fully accessible.

Ivana Strineka-Trbovic, Senior Web Manager Internet Society Foundation

Next steps

With both audits complete, the Internet Society has a prioritised checklist of enhancements to help them meet their goals for the website. Our recommendations will enable the site to achieve WCAG compliance, and ensure content is easy to find and understand for all of their visitors.

Alongside this, our work also helped embed a deeper level of understanding and an improved awareness of the importance of accessibility within their team.

Six months on and The Internet Society has now fixed around 60% of all technical issues from the audit and they’re working on improving their content.

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Stephanie Scott-Howes

Content Designer