Law Office of Lainey Feingold, the business site of disability rights lawyer Lainey Feingold, was designed by Mike Cherim specifically to conform to the level of AAA under the WCAG 2.0. And having already officially achieved this status, there was hope we might have our first Timeless Universal Design Award on our hands!
The site is built on a customised WordPress platform and, in terms of web accessibility, it’s clearly a great piece of work with obvious care and attention paid to:
- Semantic markup
- Keyboard accessibility
- Compatibility with a wide range of browsers and assistive software
- A design that is still eminently usable without images
And there’s plenty of nice touches for site visitors, like focus styling, page summaries and visual tools (i.e. alternative style sheets). We are especially impressed by the exemplary heading structure across the site and the design’s liquid layout. Another nice touch is the fact when the “Remove all backgrounds” widget is clicked, its text immediately changes to “Restore all backgrounds”. A definite plus point for widget usability.
Digging deeper though, a few niggly issues begin to surface. For example, the content link colour has a contrast of only 5.2:1, which falls well below the 7:1 required for anything other than large text by WCAG 2.0 (SC 1.4.6). The checkbox-style navigation poses potential confusion with the greyed-out visited links looking disabled and unclickable. And what about the breadcrumb trail overlapping the border image? In short, it’s this lack of attention to the fine details that lets the site down.
The use of language throughout the site is another contentious issue. Section headings in the navigation, like “Categories” or “Archives”; are not descriptive enough. Perhaps “News and Articles” and “Settlement Agreements” would have introduced more meaning and better usability? And, handy as they are, the list of Page Tools are poorly labelled; rather than clearly state what they are, we’re given representative terms instead: e.g. “Basic Page Theme”. What’s “basic”? It’s actually high-contrast, large type.
Finally: the visual design. The colours are sombre and fitting for a corporate site but there’s just no wow factor. That said, it does not detract from this site’s sheer quality or its AAA achievement. Definitely a site that could - and should - be used as an example of accessible design. Web design students… start taking notes.
Following review, the Law Office of Lainey Feingold site was judged eligible for an Award Level of “Quality Universal”. Congratulations, Mike!