We pursue our vision with a voracious belief that creating a more equitable and inclusive society matters and is an obligation of everyone. Part of this obligation is ensuring accessibility. Our rebrand that resulted in our new name, Disability Lead, challenged what an accessible brand, inclusive of a website, could look like. Here are some highlights of what we focused on to push towards a brand that is accessible and beautiful alongside an easily navigable website.
In identifying our new name, we felt strongly that our name includes the word “disability.” We ask our Members to lead with their disability identity, so we thought we should too. “Disability Lead” solidifies our belief that our disabilities are an asset.
We selected the brand elements once we had our name, including font, color, and logo.
Sans serif fonts are the most accessible options as they are clear with no frills, so we selected Franklin Gothic for our logo and Arial for our tagline. Additionally, our text appears no smaller than 12 points.
Color contrast is needed to uphold the framework of accessible texts. Our three colors, purple, orange, and pink, representing the intersectionality of our Members, meet WCAG level AAA compliance—the gold standard level of accessibility. This high contrast provides access to those with low vision and/or color blindness.
We wrote a standard image description for our logo. The description reads, “The logo consists of the words—Disability Lead. The word—disability—is purple and the word—lead—is orange. The letter—t—in the word—disability—resembles a plus sign and its colors are a dazzling merger of pink, purple, and orange.” Our logo is used where a graphic or image is needed. However, when we write out our name, we never include a plus sign. Disability Lead, without the plus sign, is the most accessible version of our name. The plus sign is also used as our favicon.
Once we had all of our brand elements, we went to work on the first promotional piece to introduce our new identity to the world, our video, “We are Disability Lead.” To make our work approachable, we included the real stories and voices of our Members. We chose not to use stock images or voiceover actors to portray leaders with disabilities authentically. Additionally, we decided to create only one video that integrated captions and audio description. Captions provide access to many people, including those who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a learning disability. The audio description provides a description of the visuals for people who are blind or have low vision. We want everyone to have the same viewing experience.
One of the most significant pieces of our rebrand, other than choosing our name, was creating an entirely new website! Our website minimally meets WCAG AA, but in many places, goes beyond basic compliance. We started from scratch and scrutinized every piece of the frontend (what you experience) and the backend (how we manage the website). Because of the limitations of many backend options, we chose an entirely new CMS (content management system) to build and manage our website: Webflow. Webflow’s frontend and backend are accessible to those who use screen readers, have limited dexterity, use magnifying software, and more. Once we chose Webflow, we were off and our web developers, Bivins Brothers, helped create a beautifully designed and seamless website for the user and effortless for us to maintain. For example, we can’t upload a new image to our website without being prompted to enter an image description.
Once we solidified the nuts and bolts of the website, we moved on to imagining what the user experience would be like and how best can we support an easily navigable website. We decided on core navigation components:
1. There’s always a fixed menu at the top of the screen and the top right. No matter where you are on the website, you can access the menu.
2. Once you’re on a page, for example, the About Us page, there’s a sub-navigation menu on the top specific to the page. You can select any of the sub-navigation options to jump to a particular section like “Our Programs” or “Our People.”
One of the most common reasons people visit our website is to learn more about who is in our Network. On the Network page, you can find all of our Members and Fellows. If you want to connect to a leader with a particular professional background, you can filter by sector and field. Or even by when someone was a Fellow! If these filters don’t quite fit who you are looking for, you can also search for keywords in the top left that display those who included the words you’re searching for in their bios, interest, or expertise. The Network page’s filters function the same as the filters on our Resources page.
3. A new permanent feature of our website empowers visitors to view it in Spanish. The button on the bottom left of our website allows all visitors to switch the language from English to Spanish. We implemented the plug-in Weglot that allows a professional translator to write the translation.
4. Lastly, as applications are now open year-round for Membership, we permanently feature the “Apply” button in the top-right menu bar. Information for both the Institute and Membership live there. While perusing this section, you might notice the use of the second person or “you” pronoun. This is intentional and is another way to reinforce accessible, plain language.
As time goes on and technology evolves, Disability Lead will continue to implement options that push towards creating a genuinely equitable experience. We appreciate your support along the way! Please feel free to reach out to us with any comments, input, or suggestions. Your continued feedback is invaluable in evaluating our process and helps us make Disability Lead a welcoming environment for each and every one of us.