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Our Focus on Accessibility

Matt James

August 7, 2017

Our goal at CourseStorm is to create an impossibly simple way for everyone to register for classes online. From birthing classes to retirement planning, from Washington to Texas to Maine, from summer camps to corporate training, we’re thrilled to give such a diverse range of people access to education at their fingertips.

Over the past few months we’ve been putting a special emphasis on making online registration easier to use for individuals with disabilities. We’ve heard from a growing number of programs that accessibility is an important focus for them, and we couldn’t agree more. That’s why we’ve been working hard to make some changes to increase usability for those with accessibility needs.

How Accessibility Works on the Web

Accessibility is an important issue for web developers everywhere, and fortunately, technology continues to improve to allow new ways to reach people with disabilities. Designers and developers refer to a set of standards known as WCAG, or the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, to help ensure what they build is accessible to everyone.

WCAG addresses the needs of a wide variety of users. If an individual accesses a site using screen reader software, for example, WCAG provides techniques to make sure content is easy to understand when read aloud. Or if a user can’t perceive certain colors, the guidelines ensure they’re still able to interpret everything on the site.

Improvements You’ll Notice in Your Catalog

Earlier this week we launched a number of updates based on our WCAG testing to improve the catalog experience for everyone. If you use the default theme for CourseStorm, these changes are already in place on your site. (If you have a custom theme, have no fear! Just contact us and we can discuss adding the new updates to your theme as well.)

Some of these features you’ll notice right away. The featured classes rotator on the home page now has links underneath to navigate between the slides and put the user in control of what they see. And throughout the catalog there’s now breadcrumb navigation at the top of the page to provide another helpful way to move around your catalog.

What You May Not Notice

Because some of the changes are geared to people who use assistive technology, many of the updates live under the hood. We’ve improved navigation around pages via the keyboard, improved text descriptions on images throughout the site, made buttons easier to read, and more. While you may not be able to notice some of these changes, they’ll likely make registration even easier for some of the people who use your catalog.

Committed to Accessibility

At CourseStorm we want our software to reach as many people as possible. Even with the changes we’ve just launched, technology that enhances accessibility is always improving, and we want to do everything we can to make CourseStorm as accessible as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns about the accessibility of CourseStorm, please reach out to us. We’d love to hear from people who use assistive technologies, whether it’s a success story about registering for a class or it’s a way we could continue to improve access. Let us know what we can do to help, and as always, thanks for using CourseStorm!

Matt James

Matt has over 20 years of experience in the software industry. As the founder or co-founder of four software companies, he comprehensively understands technology, design, operations, finance, sales, marketing, and customer service. Matt co-founded CourseStorm to connect learners to classes where they can gain education a la carte to enrich their lives through art classes, prepare for a new job, or level up their existing skills.

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