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February 6, 2017
From the early stages of creating Cutover, making the product easy to use was a high priority for our team. This required designing the platform to be intuitive, but also having an understanding of how assistive technology can be used to make Cutover accessible to all users across multiple devices, including mobile. While taking part in the Barclays Techstars Accelerator program, we were lucky enough to receive guidance on creating a more accessible product from Barclays’ Head of IT Accessibility, Paul Smyth.
Although our team hadn’t driven specifically towards the use of assistive technology in our early stages, we were aware of the fundamental requirements and so had begun to lay a foundation to provide for those.
With support from Paul, Cutover was well equipped to meet accessibility standards and provide for users that required assistive technology. ARIA tags had already been implemented, as well as basic keyboard shortcuts, but with Paul’s guidance, it became apparent that expanding on that keyboard functionality, to allow users to plan their events using only the keyboard, would make a significant difference for accessibility – as well as for all users. Color contrasts and finding alternative ways to use color to convey meaning also became additional areas of focus for us. As a result, working towards accessibility requirements – as recommended in industry standards such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as well as in the 2010 Equality Act - became an opportunity to progress the core product. We soon realized that accessible design brings benefits for all users, not just those with a disability.
At the implementation stage in Barclays, an Accessibility Project was initiated and we assigned a developer to act as the focal point for accessibility improvement. This helped the team to continually focus on accessibility capabilities, which have become a further centralized part of the overarching product roadmap.
Cutover has a specific Accessibility roadmap in place, ensuring that this plays an important role in future designs. We have also built a framework in which the front end allows for future features to be designed for optimum accessibility much more easily. Our regular automated testing covers many of the accessibility features and, as a result of the Accessibility Project and associated internal championing, the entire company understands the importance of continuing the development of assistive technology within Cutover.
We would recommend engaging with an accessibility expert in the early stages of forming a product. We feel fortunate that we were offered guidance and support while on the Barclays Techstars Accelerator program to help us to develop a foundation for accessibility from an early stage of development. Retrofitting is often difficult and/or costly but, moreover, accessibility is the key to providing a good service to the widest range of people.
Cutover is committed to making the platform accessible to all users and we are grateful for the guidance from Paul Smyth and Barclays in helping us to achieve this.