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Accessibility Improvements

At Medium, we’ve been working to improve our site’s accessibility so that it’s more usable for people with disabilities.

After performing an accessibility audit at the end of 2020, we’ve been tackling some of the most prevalent issues, with a focus on making navigation more accessible.

Below are a few of the major improvements we made to accessibility.

Dropdown menus are keyboard-accessible

We use the dropdown menus for settings-related navigations, such as user settings and story settings.

They were not reachable with the keyboard before, which means keyboard-only and screen-reader users couldn’t access them at all.

We’ve implemented a fix so that most of the dropdown menus are now accessible via keyboard!

Navigating to a dropdown menu using the keyboard.

Keyboard focus stays within the modal

For the pop-up modals such as the sign-in prompt, the keyboard focus is now within the modal when it opens. When you tab through the elements, the focus cycles within the modal and does not leave the modal.

This is important for accessibility because for keyboard-only and screen-reader users, once the focus leaves the modal it’s impossible to bring it back in with just the keyboard.

Opening the sign-in modal using the keyboard. Focus is in the modal when it opens, and stays in the modal as user tabs through the links.

Extended character limit for alternative text

We received feedback that the previous alternative text limit of 125 characters was too low for describing complex images, so we updated the limit to 500 characters.

Alternative text tool in the Medium editor showing 500-character limit.

What’s Next

We recognize that we have a lot more work to do, and we will be continuously pushing out accessibility updates in the future. Please leave a comment on what you think the biggest accessibility blockers on Medium are! We value your feedback and will do our best to prioritize them.

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