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Give Yourself an Accessibility Test: Zoom Your Page to 200%

Dec 20, 2018

People sometimes assume that spotting accessibility issues requires highly-technical knowledge and expensive tools. Certainly, some checkpoints are more in-depth than others, but there are things you can do with your own computer right now to detect and develop appreciation for the accessibility needs and challenges some people may face.

One of those tests is really easy: zoom your internet browser to 200% and see what happens to the content and layout of the webpage.

What does browser zoom have to do with digital accessibility?

People with low vision, low-contrast vision, or otherwise less-than-perfect vision may wish to magnify web content in order to make it legible or less-strenuous to read. People who consider themselves to have pretty good vision also use this feature at times, especially when font sizes are small or to reduce eye-strain.

WCAG success criterion 1.4.4 Resize Text requires that content can be zoomed to 200% without the use of assistive technology (like a screen magnifier) and without the loss of content or functionality.

Get started

Navigate to a website and go into your browser options to set the display to 200%. Take note of what happens, paying special attention to the following:

  • Is all the content still present on the page and is it still in an order that makes sense?
  • Does any of the content overlap or get smushed together, or become really far apart?
  • What happens to page navigation? Do navigation bars or menus get replaced with mobile-style menus?
  • What about overall layout? Does the page seem to adapt to the new viewing dimensions? Does the content start to stack vertically instead of using a lot of space horizontally?
  • Do you have to scroll horizontally to read everything? If so, how does that impact your experience?
  • This is an important one: does everything still work? Do links, buttons, forms, and menus still function with the content zoomed?

Zoom shouldn’t interfere with other accessibility Requirements

Remember that the need or desire to magnify web content can be related to or entirely independent of disabilities, and that web visitors don’t fit neatly into generalized categories. Keeping this in mind underlines the importance of assistive technologies and user preferences continuing to work on a magnified page.

For example, everything must still work using only a keyboard and there must still be visible focus indication for all active elements. Read: Give Yourself an Accessibility Test: Don’t Use a Mouse.

Screen readers and other assistive technology must also work with the new display, as people with lower vision, or for a number of other reasons, may combine a magnified display with screen reading technology. 

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