Putting accessibility front and centre in Umbraco 8.1

By Rachel Breeze | 23/07/2019

Umbraco 8.1 was released earlier this month. It's an important update with lots of new features, including an improved editor and back office experience, but we're also really excited as it includes a number of accessibility fixes that we've been working on along with the Umbraco community.

With these initial fixes in place, we felt that now would be a good time to run a new accessibility audit on a fresh Umbraco installation. So, Rachel Breeze @breezerachel configured Umbraco to help run the tests and Danny Lancaster @dlancasta carried out a full accessibility review.

We expanded our tests to include:

For testing purposes we continue to use the starter kit.

We have also added a “validation” page type. This allowed us to start to build out a page which explored the accessibility of the validation messages in the back office.

Alongside this, we conducted a retest for the issues that were successfully merged into the master branch. From these issues, the vast majority of them passed testing and have been implemented correctly within the Umbraco back office. Of these issues, there were a total of 19 pull requests merged into this branch – 10 of which were prioritised as critical (the highest severity).

Of the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) references, there were 12 'level A' and 7 'level AA' fixes applied, with an initial goal to make the Umbraco interface 'level AA' standard as a minimum. A further breakdown of the issues can be seen below:

  • Level AA : 1.4.13 - Content on Hover or Focus (2.1) – 1 pull request
  • Level A : 2.1.1 – Keyboard – 8 pull requests
  • Level A : 2.4.3 - Focus Order – 1 pull request
  • Level A : 2.4.4 - Link Purpose (In Context) – 2 pull requests
  • Level AA : 2.4.7 - Focus Visible – 6 pull requests
  • Level A : 3.3.1 - Error Identification – 1 pull requests

Already, users can identify the difference between the interfaces of v8.0 and v8.1. For example, the login page has been addressed within this release. This includes the focus states for the login fields as well as the general flow of the process being more intuitive for all users.

The acceptance criteria requires the Umbraco interface to be accessible to all types of users, so by providing fixes that address one of the first interactions with the CMS (the login page) more users can interact with Umbraco and benefit from the first round of fixes.

A massive thank you (H5YR) to all the Umbraco practitioners who were involved in the accessibility fixes so far.

Since the initiative started:

  • 33 pull requests have been submitted
  • 20 pull request fixes being marked for v8.1
  • 19 being pull requests making it into v8.1

Thank you to the following people who helped the project:

"A wonderful group of people from the Umbraco community have been helping us to greatly improve the accessibility of the back office. They aim to take away barriers to using the Umbraco backoffice for people with disabilities."

— Umbraco HQ

If you would like to get involved, then you can read the Umbraco 8.1 guide for contributing to the CMS and take a look at the the central list of Umbraco accessibility issues on Github. Please do get in touch if you have any questions.

We're looking forward to continuing to make Umbraco an inclusive experience for everyone.