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American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Journals


***Below is a summary of UARC's accessibility evaluation. For the full report, click the pdf link in the menu on the right.*** 

MSU Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting (MSU UARC) conducted a high-level accessibility evaluation of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Journals website to evaluate its conformance with WCAG 2.0 AA Criteria. This evaluation did not include all functionality or content of the site or all WCAG 2.0 AA Success Criteria.

During this evaluation, a number of issues were found that will make the site and its content impossible to use for many individuals with disabilities, and difficult to use for many others.

Critically, no obvious means to pause, stop, or hide the rotator on the Home pages is provided. Rotators that cannot be stopped create significant issues for individuals with cognitive and visual impairments, as well as for screen reader users. Issues of this type can interfere with the ability to use any part of a page for some users.

Keyboard users, including screen reader users and users with dexterity impairments, will have difficulty or be unable to use significant site content. Most importantly, interacting with some content breaks keyboard functionality. Most interactive elements lack a sufficiently visible focus indicator, making it difficult or impossible for many keyboard-only users to effectively use them, as they cannot determine when they have reached the correct element. Focus order is also incorrect in many places, further increasing the difficulty of using the site with a keyboard.

Individuals with visual impairments, including those that rely on screen readers, will have additional problems. Some content is read out incorrectly, and structural information (including heading and list structure) is not appropriately conveyed to users, making it difficult to understand content organization. Some form inputs are not appropriately labeled and form instructions are not associated with inputs, making those inputs difficult or impossible to use for those that rely on screen readers. Custom elements do not correctly announce themselves or provide appropriate feedback to screen readers, making them difficult or impossible to understand and use. Many images lack appropriate alternative text, significantly impacting users with visual impairments, and images of text are used in place of styled text, impacting users with visual impairments and users with reading and cognitive impairments.

While text in the PDF is provided to screen readers, the PDF has not been tagged for accessibility and no structural information is provided to assistive technologies, making it extremely difficult to use and navigate for users with disabilities. Additionally, images in the PDF lack alternative text and the PDF's title and language are not provided to assistive technologies.

Other issues were found that will make it difficult for users with a variety of disabilities to effectively use the system, including insufficient color contrast, insufficient link context, changes occurring on keyboard focus, and inappropriate page titles.

To improve access for users with disabilities, UARC recommends a full WCAG 2.0 AA evaluation and that the problems discovered be remediated.