Recap Rheinwerk Accessibility Conference & Workshop
In June I attended the online Accessibility conference and the workshop “Accessible editing with content management systems” (Barrierefreie Redaktion mit Content-Management-Systemen) organized by Rheinwerk.
The Rheinwerk Verlag GmbH, Rheinwerk for short, is a German specialist publisher of books, e-books and video courses on IT, creative and marketing topics based in Bonn. Until January 2015, the publishing house was called Galileo Press (https://www.rheinwerk-verlag.de/verlag/)
The conference day included the following presentations (I have translated the titles, since the whole conference was in German):
A barrier-free design system for the City of Vienna - Manuel Matuzovic
Manuel explained his journey on creating a design system for the website of the city of Vienna. The concepts are summarized in an handbook: https://handbuch.wien.gv.at/
Out of the filter bubble - digital accessibility concerns us all - Johannes Mairhofer
Johannes explained the basic concepts of accessibility, which (legal) rules we need to follow and why accessibility is important for all of us.
Testing with screen readers - yes or no? - Jan Hellbusch
Do I need to test my websites and apps with a screen reader? The short answer is "No".
Jan talked about WCAG criteria, automated tests and tools and when it is meaningful to test with a screen reader.
Accessible customer journeys in eCommerce - Josephine Schwebler
Josephine explained how to create an online shop following the principles of “design for all”. What was voluntary will become compulsory in Europe when the European Accessibility ACT (EAA) is adopted as national law in the different countries (2025 in Germany, for example).
Easy Language (Plus) - Prof. Dr. habil. Christiane Maaß
Christiane gave an overview of the current situation of Easy Language in Germany. What is Easy Language, what is Easy Language Plus and where is the border to Plain Language? The aim should be to offer content that is also understandable for users with special communicative needs.
Accessible Documents - Joschi Kuphal
We encounter digital documents in many situations and formats and they can (and should) be accessible to everyone. Several norms and laws already require public bodies to design accessible documents.With the European Accessibility Act (EAA), the same requirement will also apply to large parts of the private sector from 2025. So it's a good time to familiarize yourself with document accessibility.
#NotRocketScience? - Accessibility in IT projects - Jörg Morsbach
Jörg gave an insight into practice and reports on his experiences in implementing accessibility in small and large IT projects. Digital accessibility is a challenge, not only for the public sector, but soon also for parts of the private sector. The technical implementation criteria can be found in the regularly updated EN 301549 guidelines catalog and in the WCAG 2.1 AA. He also presented some new test steps included in WCAG 2.2.
My idea behind attending the workshop “Accessible editing with content management systems” was to compare Joomla with other systems, which I don’t use regularly. The Typo3 installation, that we should test during the workshop, crashed, so we only worked with Wordpress. We had first an introductory part about accessibility and then some exercises, like correcting the headings on a text, checking the semantic of tables or rewriting a text using easy language. And my conclusion is that Joomla and TinyMCE offer a lot of functionality that makes it easier for website editors to create accessible content.
Here some examples:
Basically each page should have one h1 heading: in Joomla you can configure in the menu item if the page heading should be displayed or not. If it is displayed then the article title will be automatically an h2. If not, the article title will be displayed as h1. Based on your configuration, you can further structure the content of your article with the correct headings.
Language of parts in TinyMCE
In Wordpress and Typo3 changes in the language (for example a French word in an English text) has to be added manually in code mode. In Joomla you need to configure the TinyMCE and you can mark your text with a click (Christiane Maier-Stadtherr and me explained this function on an earlier article: https://magazine.joomla.org/all-issues/march-2022/explore-the-core-accessibility-add-ons-in-joomla-4-1).
Alternative text for images
In Wordpress you can enter the alternative text directly in the media manager. That can be useful for some images, but sometimes what you write as alternative text depends on the context where the image is being used. Joomla also offers the possibility to mark an image as “decorative only” and the alt-attribute will be correctly added as empty (alt=””).
TinyMCE is really good here: you can add a caption to the table, you can define the cell type (normal cell or header cell) and the scope of the heading (for row or column). All this and more only with clicks and not using the code mode.
Joomla will add an “aria-label”-attribute to the buttons so that screen reader users get more information than a “read more”.
The Joomla developers are doing a lot of good stuff. If we keep improving accessibility and user experience, Joomla would have a big advantage over other systems.
If you want to read more about other useful accessibility tools in the core (Wordpress probably needs a lot of extra plugins), please go to our earlier article in the Magazine: Explore the Core - Accessibility Add-ons in Joomla 4.1