Evaluation of Grade Varbi's accessibility work based on current guidelines

Current laws and regulations

In December 2016, the EU published Directive “2016/2102 on the accessibility of public sector websites and mobile applications”. This directive stipulates that all EU countries should enact laws aimed at ensuring accessibility for people with various disabilities on both websites and apps (DIGG, N.D a).

In Sweden, this means that “Law 2018:1937 on accessibility to digital public services” came into force on 2019-01-01. However, this law not only applies to public authorities, regions, and municipalities, but also to private entities that conduct activities partly financed by the state or perform work aimed at meeting the needs of the general public (Parliament, 2019). For new websites, the law takes effect from 2019-09-23, while websites published before 2018-09-23, such as Grade Varbi, must comply with all requirements from 2020-09-23 (DIGG, N.D a).

The requirements are based on the European standard “EN 301549”, which largely includes the criteria set out in the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), developed within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) project (DIGG, N.D b). W3C is tasked with formulating guidelines for website design, including standards for writing HTML and CSS (W3C, N.D).

The WCAG guidelines include a number of criteria at three different levels, A, AA, and AAA. The three levels encompass different degrees of accessibility, with level AAA achieving the highest accessibility when met. To comply with the Law on accessibility to digital public services (2018:1937), the relevant actor/organization must meet at least the requirements at the A and AA levels within WCAG version 2.1 (DIGG, N.D a).

In addition to WCAG, several other unique guidelines are included in the standard “EN 301549”.

These include requirements for accessibility features to be easily accessible to the target audience, and for all accessibility on a website to be maintained even after a major update/conversion (DIGG, N.D b).

Grade Varbi’s work

Grade Varbi has actively worked since May 2017 to make the system accessible to as many users as possible. We have hired a person with expertise in digital accessibility, knowledgeable about how web interfaces work with various assistive technologies, such as screen readers with speech synthesis and braille displays. The person is completely blind and is thus a daily user of these assistive technologies.

Continuous accessibility testing of the system is carried out as new updates are launched.

Our starting point has always been the guidelines formulated within the W3C project, and we have recently placed extra emphasis on the guidelines covered by the Law on accessibility to digital public services (2018:1937).

Our external web interface

During the summer of 2019, a review of our external web interface, which is aimed at candidates, was conducted based on the criteria that need to be met to achieve the A and AA levels within WCAG. In cases where any part of the interface was not assessed to meet one or more criteria, these were specifically mapped out, and changes were made to meet the relevant criteria.

As mentioned above, continuous reviews of the interface are also conducted to ensure that accessibility is maintained. Currently (January 2024), Grade Varbi’s external web interface is partially compliant with Law 2018:1937 on Accessibility to Digital Public Services.

This means that a candidate, for example, using a screen reader can create and manage their account/profile and submit, view, delete, or modify their applications. Furthermore, the messaging function can also be used. This is made possible, among other things, by providing text-based labels for all buttons and links, and providing descriptions for images, such as logos and other symbols. We also offer a text field where employers can enter a description of the top images they may use in their advertisement. This description is then displayed as alternative text for screen readers.

Furthermore, the structure of the system has been adapted to follow the mentioned criteria and to create the best possible logic for all users.

Grade Varbi’s internal administration interface

We also want to ensure that our internal administration interface, aimed at recruiters, complies with current accessibility guidelines. Currently (January 2024), the interface is partially compliant with current legislation.

We will continue to work to ensure that both the external and internal interfaces fully comply with current legislation and ultimately ensure that both interfaces also meet the AAA criteria in WCAG, which as mentioned above will ensure maximum accessibility.

Career pages

Grade Varbi also provides so-called career pages to those of our customers who have chosen to purchase this service. These pages are designed by our expert team using a tool based on a predefined template.

The team designing our career pages has knowledge of how to design an accessible web interface, such as how to create headings that a screen reader can identify.

They also have the ability to add alt-texts to describe any images on a career page.

We always strive for the best possible user experience and therefore welcome feedback on the accessibility of our system from our customers.

Niklas Gårdelid, Accessibility Expert Grade AB

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