Accessible

FixMyStreet Pro has always prioritised ease of use. Accessibility comes built in as standard.

In developing FixMyStreet there’s been one overriding priority: to make it as simple to use as possible.

 

Clicks are kept to a minimum, forms ask for no more detail than required to get a problem fixed, and the user journey is highly intuitive.

A happy result of this focus on usability is that the interface also adheres to many of the standards for accessibility, as promoted by disability advocacy groups and recommended by the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative. As the latter states, accessibility benefits all users.

In developing FixMyStreet, we are guided by WCAG 2.0, the standard to which, for example, all GOV.UK services are held.

Font and page size

Built on an HTML framework and fully responsive, FixMyStreet’s pages automatically resize when viewed on screens of differing sizes, such as mobile or tablet devices.

Users may also easily enlarge fonts and display size by using their browser controls, or standard keyboard commands.

Screen readers

Screen readers translate pages into plain text to be read aloud or translated into Braille.

Text links on FixMyStreet are descriptive, clutter is kept to a minimum, and content is arranged under clear heading hierarchies — all features which make pages easier for users of screen readers and text-to-voice software.

We try to actively ensure that interactive elements in FixMyStreet are well described for screen readers, and we test key user journeys using screen readers, to spot any issues. Screen readers are able to skip the “click the map” step when reporting a problem.

Contrast

We ensure that all our text follows the contrast levels required by WCAG 2.0 level AA. Users may also use their own browser commands or plug-ins to alter the font and colours to suit their own needs.

Simplicity of use

Users are guided through the report-making process in very simple steps, each of which requires only basic knowledge of internet/computer use. Language is kept simple, eg users are invited to “explain what’s wrong”:

  • The user inputs a postcode or address
  • They click on a map to locate the issue
  • They pick from a drop-down list of categories provided by the council/s for that area
  • They write a short title and description of the problem and may, optionally, upload a photograph
  • They provide a name and email address
  • If they don’t have an account, they confirm the problem via email

The majority of internet users will have encountered most of these actions/interfaces via other well-known websites such as Google Maps, Facebook or almost any online form.

JavaScript

JavaScript is a useful component that drives interactive elements on webpages, such as dragging and clicking on a map within FixMyStreet. However, some working environments disable JavaScript (some individuals prefer to do so too), and it can sometimes be problematic for those on very poor internet connections.

FixMyStreet still works with JavaScript disabled; the map is still pannable, zoomable, and clickable, and reports can still be made.

Regularly tested

FixMyStreet is regularly tested via Codesniffer for speed and accessibility compliance.

Accessibility-specific controls

Many sites place a toolbar at the top of their site’s pages, allowing users to change features such as the size of fonts, level of contrast, etc.

We have decided not to go down this route for FixMyStreet because, as you have seen above, much of this functionality is already provided via standard web browsers. We think that users will prefer to set internet-wide alterations that will apply to every website, rather than getting to grips with slightly differing controls and having to set preferences on every site they visit.

Additionally, keeping a clean interface is an important consideration for those users who find cluttered pages difficult to process.

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