Contributed by Alicia Neptune, Communications Specialist.

You may have noticed that is looking a little different lately! We kicked off the new year with the launch of our new and improved site. In addition to our bold new look, the site is more accessible and freshly updated with the latest content.

The updated site has a vibrant, easy-to-navigate design. Our Services page offers a colour-coded overview of our five main service areas. You can click on any section to learn more and find the most up-to-date information about our programs, including a new page for our community inclusion programs.

Speaking of updates, things are constantly happening with our innovation projects—and now you can catch up on our experience so far! Get to know the projects and partners that have emerged from our innovation and social R&D work.

We’ve also added enhanced accessibility features like the ReadSpeaker webReader tool. In the top right corner of every page, you’ll see an ear icon—just click on it to open the tool and get started! The webReader tool simultaneously highlights and reads aloud the text on a page, making it easy to listen and follow along. You can also change the size of the font, view the page in a simplified Text Mode, or select any text on the page to view a pop-up menu with the Listen, Translation, and Dictionary features. You can also hear PDF files on the site read aloud, like the 2020 edition of our Consumer Handbook or brochures about our services.

We aim to make our website as accessible as possible, so anyone can use and read it. If you have your own website or blog, there are a few things you can do to increase accessibility.

Accessibility Tips

Write Alt Text for Images

Alt text, or alternative text, describes the appearance and function of an image. A screen reader will read alt text in place of images, making images more accessible to visually impaired users. Alt text is also displayed in place of an image if the image file doesn’t load.

Good alt text is specific, descriptive, and brief. It should communicate in words what the image conveys visually. You don’t have to describe every single detail, but someone reading the alt text should be able to understand the content of the page just as well as someone who can see the images.

Choose High-Contrast Colours

Choosing colours carefully is about more than just what looks good. High-contrast colour combinations—black text on a white background, for example—are more readable than low-contrast combinations. Using a high ratio of colour contrast benefits people who have low vision or are colour blind. It also benefits people who use devices with a monochrome display or who print pages from your site in black and white. If you use colour to identify links, buttons, and other elements on a page, make sure it stands out from the background!

Use Headings to Structure Content

Using headings is a good practice for lots of reasons. They break up long blocks of text and help people scan a page quickly for key ideas. Headings also organize the information on a page for web browsers and screen readers. You can think of headings like a table of contents. They allow people to skip to the content they’re most interested in.

Enable Resizable Text

One of the simplest ways to help people with low vision use your sight is to let them increase the text size. Larger text can make for a more comfortable reading experience, especially for longer blog posts or articles. Just make sure that the larger text still fits on the page and doesn’t interfere with the layout.

Install a Text-to-Speech Tool

If you can, consider adding a text-to-speech tool to your site. Hearing context spoken aloud can provide a better user experience for a wide range of people. It’s an important accessibility tool for those who are blind or have low vision. A text-to-speech tool might also provide a better experience for people with dyslexia or other cognitive and learning disabilities, who understand the text better when they can both see and hear it. Additionally, listening to the text can help visitors to your site to remember information more easily, or to allow them to listen to the page while multi-tasking.