Theatre Development Fund
Search & Filter
Art+Logic began working with TDF in 2010 developing a series of native mobile applications — first for the iOS platform and then Android — that would allow users to search for discounted tickets for shows available at TDF’s TKTS booths. In 2015, we were asked to prepare a proposal to redesign the current TDF site to be ADA compliant. Based upon our recent work redesigning another company’s website for ADA compliance, we developed a detailed plan of implementation for TDF. We lost the bid due to the projected cost of the effort, however, we continued to keep in touch with our primary client contacts at TDF.
In early 2017, TDF reached out to us again. The new ADA site had launched but it wasn’t meeting ADA standards and the design was clunky. In reviewing our earlier proposal, TDF realized that we had identified areas of focus, best-practices, and standards that were sorely lacking in their current site.
Art+Logic began a collaborative effort with TDF to bring the current website up to ADA compliance, streamline navigation, and improve overall look & feel.
ADA Lawsuits and Accessibility
Between 2015 and 2016 Federal ADA Web Accessibility lawsuit filings have increased 37% with 2017 filings set to increase 18%. Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and California comprise the top four states for ADA Web Accessibility filings.
// Goals + Objectives
So, the goals of the project became:
- As quickly as possible, redesign the current site using proper page structure and applying ARIA tags, ensuring users could navigate the site via screenreader.
- Make the site look cleaner and tighter.
While doing this…
- Scrub out the hardcoded logic in the current application to align with the necessary data-driven application model.
- Investigate API integration with the ticket vendors — Telecharge and Ticketmaster.
After releasing the updated website…
- Extend the search and filtering functionality.
- Update the Admin CMS to reflect the new database supporting the data-driven application.
- Integrate ticket vendor APIs, mapping the various naming conventions and ADA offerings for each venue to our database.
The objective was to create an end-to-end ticketing search and purchasing experience for the user seeking to find and buy ADA accessible tickets to their favorite Broadway show. Across a broad range of needs — Autism-friendly, sign-language interpreted, closed-captioned, and more — we wanted to provide an intuitive, empowering, and clean solution for users rather than dumping them to a general box office phone number or TTY service, as was the norm for many theaters.
There are a couple free tools available for checking a website for ADA compliance. The one that we found most valuable was the WAVE tool provided by WebAIM, whose mission is to “empower organizations to make their web content accessible to people with disabilities.” For each URL entered, it finds and reports on issues specifically related to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended in 1998.
// Quality Assurance
The 1st testing challenge
To understand what makes a website accessible to people with disabilities. In order to test for accessibility, a tester needs to understand what makes a site accessible. Fortunately, there are many excellent resources that can help guide this process.
Based upon the Web Content Accessibility guidelines, there were new questions that needed to be asked during each phase of testing.
- Are there text alternatives for any non-text content?
- Can users see and hear content? Is content accessible via the keyboard as well as mouse?
- Do users have enough time to read and use the content?
- Are users able to avoid and correct mistakes?
- Is the site compatible with assistive technologies? And many others.
The 2nd testing challenge
Learning how to use assistive technologies such as VoiceOver on Mac and Talkback on Android. To be honest, this wasn’t easy at first. Stressful even. It took a week or two of regular use to master the commands and remember how to interact with the site. At that point, it was time to start looking at whether all elements were accessible in these tools.
- Were they in the right order?
- Were they named properly?
- Was the content organized?
- Did the web page flow?
- Was anything confusing?
“Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 defines how to make Web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility involves a wide range of disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities. Although these guidelines cover a wide range of issues, they are not able to address the needs of people with all types, degrees, and combinations of disability. These guidelines also make Web content more usable by older individuals with changing abilities due to aging and often improve usability for users in general.”
Technology did not always appear to operate consistently for different users on our team or even on the same device.
The third testing challenge was trying to think like a user. That is always part of the testing process. If I were a user, what would I do? How would I use this feature? In the case of accessibility testing, this process was even harder. It required more than just testing to see if a feature was accessible using VoiceOver, for example, when the tester can see! This created a new set of questions. If I could NOT see, would I not only able to use this feature but would I be able to find this feature? Would I know how to use this feature? Are their clear instructions? Do I know how this feature fits within all of the other content? If I use the feature, do I know whether it was successful or not? What were the results? With each feature that was developed, there were more questions to be asked and answered.
Thinking like a user was a learning process in itself.
Finally, each assistive technology needed to be tested with various browsers as well as on different devices and platforms –- and within the usual constraints of a budget and a schedule.
TDF supplied a number of real-world users of the site and solicited their feedback on iterations of the site, ensuring we were meeting user needs. In some cases, we mocked up variants of the UI and associated behavior to allow for A/B-testing of user flows. We also worked with TDF to solicit and secure API access to several of the ticketing companies like TicketMaster and Telecharge in an effort to provide a seamless purchasing experience to users; this hasn’t always been easy though, as these ticketing agencies are lagging behind in the granularity of information they can provide with respect to Accessible services.
39 million of those people are blind and cannot access any of the content without using assistive listening technology.