On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, A joint interview with Sébastien Delorme, Digital Accessibility Manager and associate at Atalan; and Virginie Flores, web team leader at Cityway.
Virginie, what’s your job at Cityway?
I’m in charge of the web team. Our job is to produce tools that are user-friendly, meaning that you can use them without being a computer expert. We develop websites for users and web display interfaces for the back-office tools of our transit authority clients. What I enjoy is making our websites accessible to all audiences. For example, this could take the form of increasing character size to help the partially sighted. Or having a voice assistant, including for hidden information such as, for example, image descriptions. Or accessibility using keyboard shortcuts.
Sébastien, what is your experience in accessibility?
Atalan has existed since 2003. We are specialists in auditing, training and supporting accessibility initiatives. We work a lot in France, but also in Switzerland, Belgium and Spain. We have also opened an office in Canada and we work with organizations there and in the USA. We mainly advise public organizations and large private sector groups. Accessibility is a legal obligation for them, but we strongly believe that it is also a competitive advantage, because it increases the potential number of users.
Sébastien, how do you see the commitment of local authorities to accessibility?
Progress is being made from a legal perspective. In the USA, for example, several laws such as Section 508 or the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) make accessibility compulsory for many public and private websites.
In Europe, a directive was issued in 2016 obliging member states to adopt a law to make the websites of public sector bodies accessible (1). France started to legislate as early as 2005 for public services, and is currently widening the scope to certain private sector businesses.
- (1) Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2016 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies
Virginie, are your clients sensitive to the issue?
It’s a regulatory requirement, therefore it is part of their requests. Some of them don’t always realize what this involves. Developing a zoom function that doesn’t jeopardize the map, using Braille, creating all the hidden text, etc.: all takes a lot of work.
Your work together
Virginie, how do you work on this subject?
Atalan is our expert partner. They assist and advise us. And we also work a lot from feedback from our clients and passengers. This approach led us to develop a hidden text function which people can use to start up and browse our tools.
Sébastien, how did you come to work with Cityway?
We were also based in Canada, and the client Metrolinx had high expectations on the subject. We conducted an audit on what Cityway was offering to see what else could be done, and each year, we work on improvements based on user feedback. This led to several major technical projects to modify technical foundations back in 2014, and we worked closely with the teams at Cityway to train them on the subject. Nowadays, we provide support to them on more complex technical issues.
How accessible are Cityway’s solutions?
Sébastien: The best-known standard to measure this is WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). These are divided into three levels: level A relates to the minimum accessibility level; level AA indicates that the solution is easy to use by everyone; and level AAA is the ideal level as regards access ability. Triplinx is currently at level IA, with several criteria at AAA.
Virginie: We have obtained level AA, which is very hard to reach. We run a lot of very precise test cases. We frequently called on the services of Atalan for the website and apps in order to gain certification on all our Front Office products.