Knowbility had the pleasure of helping Vimeo on their accessibility journey last year. We audited their video player and provided Vimeo with a detailed report and technical support. Vimeo folks have now more knowledge about accessibility and Vimeo’s video player is now WCAG AA conformant.

Last October, I met with two Vimeo employees that had been working on improving Vimeo’s player’s accessibility, Sara Ma and Stephen Giordano. Sara is a Technical Support Manager and a great advocate for accessibility. Stephen is one of the video player developers. We spoke about working together and about their experiences improving the player’s accessibility.

Getting started

Sara and Stephen are representative of most of our clients. They started with some understanding of accessibility and an interest in learning more. Knowbility guided them to a point where they are ahead of most people in the industry, accessibility-wise.

Before our engagement, Stephen was aware of accessibility, like a lot of other developers. He knew the basics, such as the need for alt text on images, or navigating via keyboard only. Yet, he said there were definitely things he hadn’t considered. For example, he hadn’t thought about the impact of opening links in new windows without warning.

Sara, as an accessibility advocate, had a strong knowledge of the need for compliance and the legal repercussions. However, she wasn’t as familiar with detailed accessibility technical knowledge.

Working together

Knowbility’s assessment team ran Vimeo’s player through its paces. We conducted manual testing and code review. Code review makes sure the markup doesn’t have errors and that it makes semantic sense. We also performed functional testing. Functional testing uses assistive technologies such as keyboard, screen readers, or voice input to verify the player works properly for users of these technologies. We put our findings together in a written report. Our reports are meant to be a tool for our clients to learn about accessibility. We don’t provide a pass/fail list of WCAG Success Criteria. We provide complete information about the issues:

  • What is the issue
  • Who is the issue impacting
  • Why is it an issue
  • Where is the issue found

Where possible and appropriate, we also provide current code samples and possible fixes. We share screenshots to help find the problematic area. And if in-depth information would help, we routinely provide links to such additional information.

Stephen found this very useful, saying:

You guys did a pretty good job of not just … [writing] … ‘tabbing is bad’. You would give examples. A lot of the issues you gave actual snippets of the code from the HTML, which allowed me to track down exactly where we were doing something wrong. That was immensely helpful. Screenshots. You really tried to make sure that we can reproduce it and find the error on our own and you offered solutions.

Sara appreciated our ongoing support:

I guess it’s not like you were holding our hands through the process the entire way, but you still were almost like a safety blanket to help us when we really needed help. That was really great.

From Knowbility’s perspective, the experience of working with Vimeo was great. Everyone on their team was very receptive to our guidance and obviously wanted to learn. They came up with solid solutions that worked well in their context.

Parting thoughts

I asked both Stephen and Sara if there was a message they’d like team leaders, project managers, designers, or developers to know about accessibility. Stephen said that “accessibility isn’t that hard to do as long as it’s a part of the process. Accessibility is all about inclusivity and not preventing people from accessing what other people can access”.

I will leave you with Sara’s answer as a parting thought:

I’ve talked to many different companies, big, small, startup, 10 years down the line, about accessibility and the one thing I would say is if you haven’t started, start now. Wherever you are in your process. I’ve talked to younger companies that have said, we don’t have the resources. I’m like, that’s just not good enough. You don’t need resources. You are already the resource. You just have to get started.