Enhancing Accessibility: A New Approach to Descriptions in Conductor

Author: Erik Runyon

We've all heard the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words". While visuals can be powerful, they're only part of the story, especially when it comes to creating an inclusive and accessible website. We're excited to share a recent update that focuses on enhancing accessibility and inclusivity for our users.

Screenshot showing recent uploads. The first in the list shows a styled notice message indicating a description should be added.

What's Changing?

Starting next week, we are implementing a workflow change to Conductor that will require users to add a valid description for all newly uploaded assets (images, PDFs, etc.) before they can be inserted into content or selected as a resource. This change is designed to promote accessibility and ensure that your site is accessible to a wider audience.

Why Descriptions Matter

Accessibility is a fundamental aspect of the web, and it goes beyond just providing alt text for images. Descriptions play a crucial role in making digital content more inclusive, especially for individuals with visual or cognitive impairments who may rely on screen readers or other assistive technologies.

By adding a meaningful description to an asset, you're providing important context for those who may not be able to see the content. This includes:

  • Screen Reader Users: Quality descriptions enable screen reader users to understand the content of an image or other media element, enhancing their overall browsing experience.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Detailed descriptions not only improve accessibility but also contribute to better SEO. Search engines use alt text to understand the content of images, potentially boosting your website's visibility.
  • Searching in the Conductor admin: Clear and concise descriptions make assets easily discoverable within the Conductor admin. With a quality description, the next time you search for the image, the higher probability it will be found.

How to Implement Descriptions

Adding descriptions to your assets is a straightforward process. After uploading an asset, you will see a notice prompting you to provide a description. Take a moment to think about the key details a user might need to know if they can't see the image, and enter that information into the description field. By taking the time to add these descriptions, we're saying "everyone's welcome" and ensuring that every visitor can truly experience the full richness of your content.

Below are some resources with tips on how to write quality descriptions:

For existing content, we encourage you to review and update descriptions for images and other assets in the Assets section of your site. This small effort can make a significant impact on the overall accessibility of your site.

Our Commitment to Accessibility

At Notre Dame we are committed to making the web a more accessible place for everyone. This change is just one step in our ongoing efforts to create a platform that is user-friendly and considers the diverse needs of our community.

We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we implement these improvements. If you have any questions or need assistance, contact Webhelp.