Making Higher Education Accessible to All
Engaging students with visually-stunning, accessible design
Anoka-Ramsey Community College (ARCC) needed help creating a new, fully-responsive website that would better serve current and prospective students by being accessible to all users, regardless of ability. The redesign needed to improve way-finding on the site through clear, consistent and universally accessible navigation, while remaining visually appealing to ARCC’s target audience.
There’s a common misconception that accessibility, great user experience (UX) and beautiful design are mutually exclusive. The Nerdery’s dedicated accessibility team is committed to breaking down those barriers, proving that a fully-accessible site can be just as visually appealing as any other site. The ARCC project offered us the perfect opportunity to show off our accessibility chops for a worthy cause.
Breaking down barriers between accessibility and design
It was vitally important that ARCC’s site looked as great as it performed. Starting with visual design, we expanded ARCC’s color palette to include darker versions of their original color scheme, which allowed for more stylish and fully-accessible color options.
We then added a number of visually-appealing, accessible features like “flip cards,” which allow information to be displayed on both sides of a digital card that can be easily accessed with any assistive technology, and a machine-readable “choose your education path” flowchart. We also made the site fully-responsive, which is important for low-vision users who rely on zoom, and blind users who prefer to use the built-in screen readers standard on most smartphones.
To ensure that we cover visual, auditory, ambulatory and cognitive disabilities and meet Section 508 and ADA requirements, The Nerdery follows the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) developed by the World Wide Web Consortium Web Accessibility Initiative and widely regarded as the highest standard in accessible design. Throughout our engagement our team completed more than 2,800 WCAG accessibility tests, amounting to over 140 tests per page. This ensured that the ARCC site was 100 percent accessible to all users by launch–and remains so to this day.
Creating Lasting Impact
Having a fully-accessible, beautifully designed website with cutting-edge UX and navigation features has proven to be a huge benefit to ARCC, helping them to significantly increase their reach and better engage current and prospective students of all backgrounds and abilities.