Each year on November 30, Blue Beanie Day raises awareness of the importance of web standards and accessibility. Its inspiration began in 2003, when web designer Jeffrey Zeldman published “Designing with Web Standards,” which would play a major part in defining web design standards and influence generations of web designers. On the book’s original cover and each edition since, Zeldman wears a blue beanie. And since 2006, on Blue Beanie Day people across the internet change their profile photos to show themselves wearing blue beanies, helping bring attention to this important topic.
Understanding the importance of standards and accessibility for every person who visits Pearson VUE’s multiple web portals, our team is dedicated to ensuring that our web platforms are as accessible as possible. We asked our web design team a series of questions to demonstrate our policy and share any plans for further improvement.
In terms of web platform accessibility, what is Pearson VUE’s policy?
Pearson VUE follows Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA as the guiding standard for our products and services. This guideline provides a single, shared standard for making web content accessible to disabled users that addresses the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments. Further, we continually work toward improving the accessibility of OnVUE, our online proctoring system, and all our other products by consulting with internal accessibility experts.
We have also developed an accessibility maturity model to help product and software teams advance their application of accessibility best practices and standards in all they do, as part of a continuous journey to create and support accessible experiences.
How have we integrated accessibility into our web platforms?
As part of our accessibility journey, we strive for accessibility to be integrated into all aspects of our product development lifecycle. In addition to our work to ensure accessible practices for software development and design, we want to enhance our research and usability testing practices to be more inclusive of individuals with disabilities.
If you’re not a developer or web designer, you may not realize everything that goes into making a web site accessible.
Give us some examples of web standards that people wouldn't necessarily know of or identify when they are on our web platforms?
If you’re not a developer or web designer, you may not realize everything that goes into making a web site accessible. While someone may be able to look at a web site and see that the background and foreground colors don’t have sufficient contrast, there is so much more that goes into building an accessible site that you can’t see.
It’s only when you view the page code that you start to appreciate the work that goes into an inclusive website. The average web site contains thousands of hidden “tags” that help users effectively navigate the site when using assistive technology. These tags control how the site renders for someone using a screen reader to navigate the site.
For example, when a viewer cannot see an image or a video, a visually hidden description is used so they can understand the full context of the page. Another example is how a site is designed in a way that allows you to navigate using a keyboard instead of a mouse.
What do we dream of doing to improve the accessibility of our web platforms?
What was acceptable only a few years ago is no longer acceptable from an accessibility perspective. Automated tools to monitor the accessibility of your web site have come a long way, but many accessibility issues are subjective and cannot be assessed without manual inspection.
We expect the technology behind automated testing to evolve in such a way that we no longer need to have teams dedicated to manually testing web sites. This will level the playing field and allow companies of any size to quickly find and repair accessibility issues. Better yet, wouldn’t it be great if the testing tools could also automatically fix the issues they identify? Now, that’s our dream. This would eliminate the time between an issue being identified and the issue being fixed – providing as close as we can to 100% accessibility.
So, this Blue Beanie Day, wear your blue beanie and join us in celebrating the strides we’re all making to help ensure everyone has full access to websites.