PLOS One

Summary

***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 PLOS ONE platform to evaluate its conformance with WCAG 2.1 AA Criteria. This evaluation did not include all functionality or content of the site or all WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criteria.

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

Keyboard users, including screen reader users and users with dexterity impairments, will find it impossible to access or use a significant portion of site content. A variety of content throughout the site cannot be reached or operated via keyboard, making it impossible to use for those that rely on keyboard access. Focus order is incorrect in many places, increasing the difficulty of using the site with a keyboard, and many interactive elements lack a sufficiently visible focus indicator, making it difficult for many keyboard-only users to effectively use them, as they cannot determine when they have reached the correct element.

Individuals who rely on screen readers, including many users with visual, reading, and language impairments, will also have problems using the site. Some content is not read out or is not read correctly, and structural information (e.g., headings, lists, tables) is not appropriately conveyed to users, making it difficult or impossible to understand content and organization in places. Many form inputs are not appropriately labeled, making those inputs difficult or impossible to use for those that rely on screen readers. Custom elements do not correctly announce themselves to screen readers, making them difficult to understand and use. Many images have inappropriate alternative text, significantly impacting users with visual impairments.

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, no title or language is 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 for text and meaningful visual elements, use of color alone to distinguish content, images of text being used instead of styled text, text not reflowing when the viewport or text size is changed, and inappropriate page titles.

To improve access for users with disabilities, MSU UARC recommends a full WCAG 2.1 AA evaluation and that the problems discovered be remediated.