At Patients Know Best (PKB), we want everyone to be able to use the application easily, so we are committed to meeting Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines define how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility involves a wide range of disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities.
Disabilities can be permanent, temporary or situational and all need to be considered when it comes to making sure PKB is accessible and inclusive. The following infographic from Microsoft below is a helpful representation of what to consider when it comes to inclusive design.
There are many areas where PKB is already very accessible. Most of PKB can already be navigated using just a keyboard and users can listen to most of the website using a screen reader. We have always put focus on readability, avoiding the use of long sentences and jargon so we can help people better understand the system. The “language bar” on each page has 22 available languages and allows patients and their carers to navigate content in their chosen language, and quickly understand where to view or record their data.
Taking accessibility further
Over the last two years, we have been investing time in further education on accessibility for our engineering team and working to ensure accessibility best practices are always a part of our development process. We are moving toward making every page on our application meet the accessibility requirements so it could be navigated by a non-sighted user via the keyboard and the screen reader only. This includes adding meaningful labels to form inputs, highlighting errors and giving updates when changes happen on the page.
We’ve also been making the website text as simple as possible to understand with the help of our user research panel. Details of how to get involved in the User Research Panel are included at the end.
Our most recent updates
Colour blindness (colour vision deficiency, or CVD) affects approximately 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women in the world. To make sure our system is accessible for users with colour blindness, we have recently updated all colours used in PKB to address any colour contrasting issues. The changes applied also give prominence to certain key elements and help guide the eye of the user to the most important features.
We have been enhancing the experience for users of screen readers by adding meaningful labels, landmarks & alerts in the code. Labels are used to describe the purpose of a form field, so if a patient is using a screen reader, it will identify what a field is for.
Landmarks identify the main sections of the page. We have started adding consistent ways to identify these sections so that the users don’t have to read every element on the page to get to the section they are interested in. Alerts will notify screen readers in real-time about changes on the page, for example, if entries have been successfully added/removed. Alerts will also notify users about errors on the page and how to resolve these.
We will continue to devote time and resources to address accessibility issues across the application.
Our next big accessibility update will be introducing a new navigation panel. Unlike traditional navigation patterns, the current navigation does not have the primary menu at the top of each page at a consistent location. Instead, the primary navigation sits in the middle of the home page and is only there, and is not accessible from the sub-pages. This causes a problem, especially for people who are using a screen-reader, as users would not be able to find the main menu options where they expect them to be. We completely rethought the navigation and built it from scratch. We have been validating the various concepts through research and carrying out user testing along the way.
We have regular user feedback sessions during the redesign of key areas to ensure that patients using our application can find everything they’re looking for with ease and speed. If you would like to take part in any user feedback sessions, or you have accessibility needs and would be interested in testing or providing feedback, please see how to get in touch on our User Research page.