We are proud to announce that Sparkle is in compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)!? Now, you can rest assured that it will work well across different types of online display, even for your customers with visual or hand-eye coordination disabilities. This new update makes it easier for screen reader users to identify your Sparkle when scrolling through your websites.

What is WCAG?

The WCAG was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as part of their web accessibility guidelines. The WCAG is required by law in many countries such as the USA and Canada. The guidelines were developed to ensure that people with visual or hand-eye coordination disabilities are able to enjoy similar online navigation benefits. According to WHO, 285 million people today are visually impaired. And, one of the few ways for them to surf the Internet is to use a screen reader, such as JAWS to navigate their way through a website. 

A screen reader is a software which converts digital texts and web elements into synthesized speech. The screen reader translates the text in a linear fashion to users, resembling that of an automated phone call menu. It enables the visually impaired to navigate their way through, albeit differently from sighted users. Depending on the format of the web page, the same screen reader may interpret it differently. Our new feature now makes it simpler for users with visual impairments to use and navigate through Sparkle integrated websites, in accordance with the WCAG. 

Identifying Sparkle through improved text to speech tool

To make sure your audience gets the best experience when encountering your Sparkle, we have re-designed the code. The result is a more streamlined process. When encountered with a Sparkle, the screen reader now notifies the customer that it is a block of image. This allows for quicker identification as to the visitor’s current location on the web page. 

Easier keyboard navigation

Unlike sighted visitors that are able to understand the whole layout of the web page within just a single glance, visually impaired surfers are unable to do so with the limitations of the screen readers mentioned. They are restricted by the screen reader’s translation and are unable to “explore” the web as efficiently as they wish. 

The second part of our update is a big plus point to those who only use their keyboard, instead of a mouse, as their main navigation tool.  The prominent change is conferring visitors with the ability to remove themselves from the Sparkle widget by pressing the “esc” key. This is helpful when exploring inside a Sparkle integrated web page. By hitting the key, visitors will be taken out of the Sparkle widget so that they can continue navigating through the rest of the page with the standard keys as determined by their operating system, such as Windows 10. This is also helpful for those who have impaired hand-eye coordination.

Higher conversions with better accessibility

Instead of the screen reader spewing out mind-boggling words, your valued visitors will be able to understand and navigate their way through to their intended destination. By transforming your website’s accessibility, it opens up doors to more visitors and potential leads, translating into high conversions!

Now, anyone can incorporate and publish Sparkle on their web pages. With Sparkle, you get to make use of the great user generated content collected through different social media channels. If you have previously passed on Sparkle because of accessibility issues, do not hesitate to start a trial now!

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