The SBB WiFi platform provides free WiFi access at most Swiss train stations. Together with SBB, Nothing Interactive improved the accessibility of SBB WiFi.

SBB WiFi for everyone

04.07.18

Accessibility at the station: Together with SBB and the foundation “Access for all,” we revised the SBB WiFi portal with special attention on accessibility.

A quick reply to an email, a glance at the train connections—if you travel by train in Switzerland, you probably know SBB’s free internet access: SBB WiFi. Nothing Interactive has been working on SBB WiFi together with development partner Netcetera since the inception of the project in 2014. As part of this mandate, we recently made a fundamental improvement in accessibility to ensure that SBB WiFi is as accessible as possible to everyone in Switzerland. As a result, SBB WiFi now officially meets WCAG Level AA.

Enable everyone

Technology has removed barriers for some but has created new ones for others. The goal of accessibility is to remove these barriers and make all kinds of products and services easier to access and use for everyone, especially for people with disabilities. But ultimately, accessibility improves everyone’s user experience: After all, aspects such as clear access, simple language and a structured overview generally make our lives easier.

In Switzerland, accessibility has been established by law since 2002 with the Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities. Therefore, all federal websites must be updated to a version that’s accessible to everyone. Considering that according to the Federal Office of Statistics around 1,500,000 people in Switzerland live with a disability, it’s clear that these optimisations are necessary.

Putting the theory into practice

With those issues in mind, SBB approached us in October 2017. We were tasked with revising the SBB WiFi portal and updating the design to conform with SBB’s official website. Our main focus, however, was to make the platform more accessible for all kinds of users, especially people with visual impairments. To this end, we revised the content structure of SBB WiFi and then checked it with screen readers.

Screen readers are applications that help people with visual impairments to use websites and apps. As the name suggests, they read out loud what’s displayed on the screen. But a screen reader does more than that. With screen readers it’s also possible to select links or jump to different parts of a website via abbreviations. For screen readers to work efficiently, websites have to be structured with specific valid HTML/CSS code. Furthermore, we need to provide additional information elements in the code that help the listener find their way around. Many things remain “invisible”—but not unimportant.

Certificate: WCAG Level AA

Our accessibility work has been tested and certified by “Access for all,” a Swiss foundation committed to accessibility. Since March 2018, SBB WiFi officially meets WCAG Level AA. We at Nothing Interactive are pleased with this result and hope to engage in more projects that emphasise accessibility.

If accessibility is also important to you, contact Rey (rey@nothing.ch), our accessibility advocate. Whether you want to talk about the topic in general or have a specific problem to solve—we would be happy to hear from you!

Further information on the subject