implenton/

Helping the Civic Tech Field Guide with accessibility issues

The Civic Tech Field Guide (CTFG) claims to be "the world's biggest collection of projects using tech for the common good".

If you are looking for a civic-tech project to contribute to, this is a good starting place. They now have over 5000 projects in their directory! Some dead, though.

If something breaks my heart, it's seeing large, manually curated data sets or directories rot. The sword of Damocles is hanging over every database, so I decided to do a bit of dev volunteering for CTFG.


Being WCAG 2 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) compliant was one of their top priorities, as I found out. Matt Stempeck, among many things, the curator of CTFG, was quick to fill me in on the project's status.

I did not do a full accessibility audit with individuals using different assisted technologies, etc., but I fixed all the flagged errors by WAVE. It's not the same thing, but it's a step in the right direction.

Some of the changes involved adjusting the contrast ratio of colors, providing alt text, making sure things are labeled, and other fundamental stuff.

When it came to two legacy JavaScript libraries, I had to get creative.

Since I was completely new to the codebase, ripping them out and replacing them with something that matches today's standards seemed way out of scope. Thankfully, the libraries exposed initialization events, so I managed to do some light DOM manipulation to add the proper aria-related attributes right after the page load.


My other contribution was to provide minimal onboarding documentation.

The directory is using Laravel, and it had the default README.md. Somebody unfamiliar with this tech stack or less seasoned could have felt disoriented and might even be put off by the lack of proper instructions. Now, it's a bit easier for most.

2022-04-18