Equal Access for Everyone

In this post, Nate Edwards, VP of Mobile, and Paul Conlin, Front-end Development, share their insights on accessibility and championing student voice.

At Flipgrid, we strive to provide our users a voice in their learning community. We work to create an inclusive environment where learners actively engage in compelling and collaborative discussions with their peers. To achieve these goals we have been implementing a series of new accessibility features and services to make participation easier for all of our users.

When we first explored making Flipgrid accessible, the requirements were daunting. The resources available were often outdated and posed challenges when applied to our environment. To aid in our development we began by asking which core features of Flipgrid should be reexamined to best serve our users. We concluded that improvements were needed to better support those with motor, vision, and hearing impairments.

Motor Function Impairments
One of our strongest improvements was making Flipgrid entirely navigable by keyboard. Now, by using tab, enter, spacebar, etc. users are able watch, record, and like videos.

We also made improvements to ensure users are able to properly navigate to the appropriate element when opening modals or changing pages via their keyboard. This allows users to efficiently navigate Flipgrid without relying on a mouse. To learn more about the motiviation behind this implementation, read Simply Accessible’s take on Focus Management.

Vision Impairments
To help our users with vision impairments, we now allow full control over font size without negatively affecting the display of the content. Users can increase or decrease their font size via their browser or system settings while maintaining the same style and functionality. We set a goal to meet the WCAG AA standards for contrast ratios, which ensures users with vision impairment can properly distinguish between all elements on a page.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing
As Flipgrid is a video platform, one of our key improvement goals was to be able to provide a supplement for the deaf and hard of hearing community in the form of video transcripts. Our beta release of this service has been great success with over 60,000 videos transcribed and nearly 250,000 keywords extracted.

For our team, providing accessible content is more than checking a box and following compliance documentation. It is a guiding force in how we plan, develop and improve our product.