Back to basics: Accessibility for everyone

Development · May 17, 2018

TELUS was recently recognized by CNIB and the CRTC for its achievement in accessibility on 

While we are grateful for the CNIB’s affirmation of our efforts, we continuously strive to be better and rally around accessibility as a priority that is core to putting all customers first. 

At TELUS Digital, accessibility is part of our work habits. We consider plain language when we prepare our content, view our design through an accessible lens, follow best practices during development, and validate our efforts before we go live and throughout our iterative process.

Tools and automation are an important part of the digital process and can inform decisions about making our products accessible. 

At its core, an accessible product is easy to use, easy to understand, and is available to everyone. Being mindful of the basics of accessibility is a key to bringing that experience to our customers. 

Josh Arndt, one of our senior technical architects, captured the spirit of why TELUS Digital is going back to the basics in his article, Back to basics: Tracking performance.

“How Important are the Basics at TELUS Digital? Customer satisfaction is a big deal … we take great pride in delivering best-in-class experiences for all our users. It is our reason for being.” - Josh Arndt, Senior Technical Architect

Our commitment to accessibility is to provide an exceptional, quality experience for people with physical, mobility, visual, auditory or cognitive disabilities. And the benefit of building an accessible product is to create something that is easy to use for everyone. 

Accessibility at TELUS Digital

The TELUS Design System includes accessible blocks and components which allows our teams to create consistent experiences across the board. We include accessibility checks in our dev cycles, build pipeline and tests for all net new functionality. 

We recently added Google's Lighthouse to automate the process of testing our web pages for Performance, Content, SEO, and Accessibility. Google applies industry best practices which help us align on standards and measure our progress at scale. 

Lighthouse provides a detailed analysis of what we are doing well and a largely prioritized backlog of issues we need to address. 

Our Lighthouse scores for accessibility are pretty high. Our average is 93/100. But what does that score really mean? 

A high score from Lighthouse means that at TELUS Digital, we excel at automation and re-usable consistent processes. It looks like we’re nearly perfect. External audits also suggest that we are near perfect for accessibility. 

But automation and process will only take us so far, especially when it comes to the human experience. A high score from machine testing means 400+ humans at TELUS Digital can focus on the basics of the human experience. 

What are the basics?

Back to basics for accessibility is about remembering that automation does not do our job for us. It assists in highlighting our measurable performance, shows us what we’re doing well and allows us to focus our attention on the basics.

  • Create a great story. 

  • Provide context for our customers. 

  • Design with simplicity. 

  • Respect semantics.

  • Test with our keyboards.

  • Review our labels and descriptive text.

Understanding that an accessible product is better for everyone and working with a team of 400+ people who are aligned on the value of accessibility is rewarding and exciting. Accessibility makes things easier for our customers and easier for our teams. 

As the team leading the digital evolution at TELUS, it is important that we never forget the basics.

Authored by:
Oskar Westin
Senior Digital Accessibility Strategy Manager
Oskar is a senior digital accessibility strategy manager. He is committed to helping people to understand accessibility and disability while to improving the digital experience. He is also a co-organizer of #a11yTO, a Toronto-based Accessibility group.