Accessibility: Removing Barriers and Building Bridges

June 17, 2020

Button to increase text size, the T+ symbol seen here

About menu item tagged for assistive technology with circle border, shown here

In April, after a nearly 6-month process, O’Brien360 launched its new website.  In alignment with the company’s vision to “equitable advancement of the built environment toward positive life cycle impacts” and our value to “…expand our work to more broadly address health, equity, and financial sustainability,” we endeavored to ensure that those with disabilities would enjoy the same equal access to our content and expertise as those without such challenges.  Enter the concept of accessibility.  In the context of a website, accessibility removes barriers that those with physical challenges may face when it comes to accessing print, audio, and visual media using cyber or web technologies. Whether an impairment or disability is permanent or temporary, accessibility enables more people access to and use of the web, which in the age of COVID-19 has become an increasingly important aspect of our lives; an indispensable resource for work and basic, everyday needs. 


What accessibility looks, sounds, and feels like

Our web developers, Bizango, followed the WCAG 2.0 requirements, Level AA.  These requirements stipulate that persons with visual impairments be able to receive information via touch or sound, that the hearing impaired can receive information via sight, that those with low vision be offered alternative formatting options such as ways to enlarge content, and that those who cannot see color be able to receive images, text and graphics without the use of color.


These stipulations follow four principals
  • Perceivable     
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust


Principle 1: Perceivable

"Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive."


Principle 2: Operable

"User interface components and navigation must be operable."


Principle 3: Understandable

"Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable."


Principle 4: Robust

"Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies."


How Accessibility Is Addressed on Our Site

Upon first encountering our site, you will notice some signs that our site is accessible in the lower right-hand corner.  These two symbols – the T with the plus sign and the small sun symbol – represent accommodations for the visually impaired.  When you click on the T+ symbol, text is enlarged by approximately 200% so it can be more easily read.  When you click on the sun symbol, text and images are given more contrast, so they are easily perceived.  These are some of the accommodations that are easily noticed, but there are more accessibility accommodations operating in the background to provide ease of use. Additional accommodations include, but are not limited to:


  • A single HTML H1 heading tag on Every page
  • No empty titles
  • Consistent title hierarchy


  • Navigable interactive elements using the keyboard
  • Noticeable outlines for keyboard focus


  • Menus and menu items tagged for assistive technology


General Readability
  • Font sizes big enough to be readable
  • Letter spacing wide enough to be readable


Our aim is to help clients, partners and other visitors to our site have a seamless user experience.  Providing an accessible site that can be read and understood by as many people as possible not only helps us meet that goal, but facilitates our ultimate mission to Integrate sustainable building expertise, thoughtful analysis, and a collaborative approach to catalyze positive outcomes in the built environment.

Still curious about web accessibility?  


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