Digital History

October 25, 2020 – Module 7: Accessibility, Inclusivity, and Learning More

TLDR: I worked a lot on the accessibility of my website using the Wave Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool, though I found the undertaking confusing and will need to work on it longer to implement changes. The goal then would be to continue to have more accessible content as the baseline for my website. 

I am the first to admit that I have thought very little about the themes presented in this week’s modules; I have, of course, thought about accessibility in education and public history, but generally at a more abstract level anyway. But my website? Not really.

The readings this week codified some of the lessons I have learned so far in the Clio Wired and the Digital History Practicum (note: so many lessons so many things I didn’t know what I was getting into). I have digital history experience, though limited, and every week I realize that DH involves so much more than making sites and projects with spreadsheets. I am also finding myself drawn to the challenges involved in DH that I hadn’t truly considered prior to coming to George Mason and CHNM, such as the more digital and technological understanding of coding and programming or even learning to collaborate more. I similarly am drawn to the challenges of accessibility and making my own work inclusive. 

Where I think my website needed the most help was the visuals and the appearance. I hadn’t thought about contrasting colors or text size, and I must admit my font was small and my colors muted and light. I went to WAVE to check the accessibility of my site, and there were plenty of issues with color and contrast, though lots of other issues as well. The size and color issues were the first problems I tackled, seeing them as an easy option. 

Poor color choice examples, as discussed in “How to Design for Color Blindness”. I noticed that most of my text was light-colored, such as grey color or a light blue I was using for my links. I changed the text color on my menu to black so it would be sharper against the gray and white background, and I changed the links to a darker blue, along with comments and the posts that appear on the homepage. 

Then I started broaching problems from WAVE’s analysis of the site that just confused me.

Still confused about this – what is redundant? If you can help me with this issue please do!

I then went to check other pages of my site, and again saw more low contrast text that I needed to take care of while editing (yikes, I do have links on almost every page. Come on, Caroline).

That was,  indeed, a choice. 

Though I planned on having a great post about the changes I made on my site to be more accessible and inclusive, I have realized this will be a longer endeavor. 

I have plans to make my site more accessible stemming from the readings this week. As pointed out in the WCAG Compliance Checklist and “Reframing the Conversation: Digital Humanists, Disabilities, and Accessibility,” there is no such thing as 100% accessible, but efforts and small changes can still amount to more. That’s my goal for my website long-term, such as putting Alt-text on images (something we’ve started doing on our project’s Twitter page:  after Janet sent us information about doing it). Though I currently have no media or video content that I need to consider, the Checklist discusses making those more accessible by not auto-playing media, making sure it can be paused, using captions, making transcripts available, not too much flash, and removing seizure transcripts. I would make sure to keep my new content accessible using this checklist. 


Wave Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool, The Ally11 Project.

Megan R. Brett, Jessica M. Otis, Mills Kelly. “Reframing the Conversation: Digital Humanists, Disabilities, and Accessibilities.” Debates in DH 2022 (forthcoming).

Collinge, Robyn. “How to Design for Color Blindness.” Usabilla Blog (blog), January 17, 2017.

Cognitive accessibility.” MDN Web Docs.

6 replies on “October 25, 2020 – Module 7: Accessibility, Inclusivity, and Learning More”

First off, I want to say that I enjoy looking through your website! I love the layout and think it’s well organized. You bring up similar points that I had when I ran the WAVE report on my website. It’s going to take some time to “fine tune” my website, but it’s good to know some sort of foundation to work from to make things more accessible to the broader public.

This course has indeed been an eye-opener for me on many different fronts. Having had virtually zero digital history background, every week this semester has been a revelation.

I’m particularly drawn to one line in your post, about how colors used for links was “a choice.” Surely, it was purely a design choice with zero malicious intent. But it does highlight how little we think about it in the digital world, that our regular operating assumption is that our vision will work for all users across the board. Thanks to this past week’s guidance on accessibility, though, I think that we’re now much more conscious of these otherwise innocuous design choices so that we can be more purposeful in the future.

So it was great to hear that others struggled similarly with the activities this week. I think many of us do in fact NOT have any coding background, and so oftentimes when we plug into these tools, there is lots of information but we don’t know what it means or how to fix it. I also attempted to glean the low hanging fruit by focusing on text and contrast. I did like that the WAVE tool also highlighted a whole section of issues that weren’t errors but merely improvements, that are more judgment calls on our end. That made the tool less overwhelming to me. But I can’t help you much on the details as I have the same struggles! Good luck!

It’s wild how hard it is to bring things into compliance — by which I mean, it’s something that should be done, but it seems like some of the platforms or themes are designed to make it as actively difficult as possible! It’s no longer enough to simply changing your “link” reference color — no, you have to be sure you ALSO change the defined color for links that might appear in a widget, or a subheader, or a comment, or an archived post, or or or… The ability for CSS to hyper-style sites has also made a bit of a monster!

I, too, was surprised, probably more than I should have been, of the long process it would take to revamp my website. I have some coding background, but not enough to truly know how to manipulate something like the backend of WordPress when theme design settings are limiting. (Many don’t have settings to resize text – why?) I will be doing the same to see where I can still improve my site. I really like the changes you have done. I already see a difference and I had thought your website was originally really nice to begin with.

I agree with the others that your website was quite nice to view! Colors and contrast definitely seem to be a major thing that needs tinkering with when creating a website. As I mentioned in my blog post, I had to tinker a bit with my personal art website due to the brightness of my art clashing with my text menus. I think it’s also why many websites offer a “dark” and “light” mode as viewing a site can require different colors even just for the time of day or ambient lighting you’re in haha!

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