This is a testing site only. See the live Public Lab site here »

Public Lab Research note

GSoC 2020 proposal: Site Wide Accessiblity on

by suyash1814 | March 07, 2020 06:16 07 Mar 06:16 | #23097 | #23097

About me

Tell us about yourself!

Name: Suyash Choudhary

Github: @sssash18 (Suyash Choudhary)

Affiliation: Birla Institute of Technology and Science,Pilani Pilani Campus, Rajasthan(India)

Location: Pilani, Rajasthan(India)

Project description

Site Wide Accessibility on

Abstract/summary (<20 words):

Improving the site wide accessibility of

Implementing some checks to ensure better accessibility in future development processes on


What problem(s) does your project solve?

The project aims to improve the site wide accessibility on by insertion of alt-text on all images on, performing accessibility scans and color contrast scans(for color blindness analysis) through the use of axe-core and solve the detected issues .It would also implement certain measures through use of accesslint and axe-core to for ensuring accessibility in future development processes on

Issues to be solved

  1. Generation of alt text for images.
  2. ARIA implementation.
  3. Accessibility issues and Color Blindness Analysis.
  4. Automatic linting of pull requests.
  5. Maintaining coverage for future development processes.


Generation of alt text automatically

For people with visual impairments they use screen readers for accessing the website. The screen readers in the absence of 'alt text' just read 'image' in place of the image at the site. Therefore to generate alt text for such a large number of images on 'Microsoft's Azure Computer Vision API will be used .This will be done with the help of 'microsoft_computer_vision' gem.

Steps to generate alt-text for images :-

Description :-

1. Generating a column in images table to store the alt-text for images

class AddPhotoDescriptionToImages 

 def change

   add_column :images, :photo_description, :string



The response of this request made by this module will be returned in a JSON format as shown below:

The above code would add a new column photo_description in the images table.This column would save image description for each of the associated images which would be used later on for the alt text.

2. Adding the required gem file('microsoft_computer_vision')

gem 'microsoft/_computer/_vision'

3. Creating a module in to set up the API
A module will be created that would handle all the backend requests for analyzing a particular image and handling the responses received.

require 'json'

module ImageText

def describe(IMAGE_URL)
subscription_key = ENV['SUBSCRIPTION_KEY']

client =

options = {






The response of this request made by this module will be returned in a JSON format as shown below:

        "text":"partridge in a pear tree",

The part of the response relevant to our aim description captions{"text"}.

Now this part of the response body (descriptions{"captions"}{"text"}) will be saved in the above created column in the database for future uses. The above module created will be included in the Image model. Now the above setup will be used to generate alt text for two kinds of images.

include ImageText


def alttext(image_id)

@image = Image.find_by(image_id)

@image.photo_description = @image.describe(@image.path)


A method would be created in the images_controller that would call the module method Now this method will be called at all the places where images are rendered in the views. For example:- app/views/dashboard/_node_question.html.erb


The below flow chart summarizes the whole process:-

ARIA Implementation

Currently just native HTML can't do everything. ARIA can be used to solve accessibility issues that can't be solved by native HTML. ARIA works by augmenting and changing DOM accessibility tree. The below list shows the use of ARIA that will be used to solve the accessibility issues in

The below list shows the use of ARIA that will be used to solve the accessibility issues in

a) aria-label for buttons with no labels

A button with no label gives no information to the screen readers. So ARIA can be used to provide a label that is only exposed to assistive technology APIs. The use case of aria-label with search button in navigation bar is shown below:

b) aria-labelledby and aria-describedby for forms

To describe the meaning of a label or to describe the user the kind of input that is required in the form, it can be done by aria-labelledby and aria-described by.For ex-

Signup form on

In the password field for signup the accepted password has some conditions.To inform this to the screenreader aria-describedby will be used.

c) aria-live for alert messages
aria-live enables us to inform about the updates immediately to the assistive technology regardless of the page position. It can be used to inform the users of the alert messages.It will be used in two ways.

a) To inform the user of some positive alert .For example when the user has successfully logged in .For this event on the dashboard there appears a success alert dialog , so code changes for it would be:

Here in aria-live="polite" ,the screen reader will inform the user after finishing it's current work.

b) In case of errors aria-live="assertive" will be used ,so the screen reader will be interrupted immediately and the user will be informed about the errors.
All the accessibility scans will be done with the help of axe-core accessibility tool which works on guidelines of WCAG.
All the above aria-changes (along with some more aria attributes) will be done with the help of a lot of 'first-timers-only' issues to expand the outreach of PublicLab.
1) Solving the color contrast issues:-
Currently there are a lot of pages on with color contrast issues.For example the navbar. The color contrast for all the links on it dont have a great contrast and is difficult to recognise for people with color blindness. Such issues will be detected by axe-core and will be solved with help of many first timers only issues to enhance the outreach of PublicLab.

Currently only on the dashboard there are around 600 color contrast issues. So a new set of color scheme needs to be implemented which would be decided by discussing among the community members and implementing it.

2) Changing Dependence of buttons on symbols
Currently the buttons on the site just depend upon their colors .Such buttons may be not easy to recognise by some peoples. It will be a good idea to add relevant symbols to all major buttons for describing their role .For example the save button on edit profile has no relevant symbol. So it is a problem for color blind people. A symbol for it will be inserted as Before


Similarly Currently the error and the success flash messages are just identified by their color which is not appropriate.So a symbol indicating the error or success will be inserted.

Automatic linting of Pull Requests

Needs to be added .
Accesslint was one of the option but it is only supported on circle ci

Maintaining coverage for future development processes.

To maintain code coverage for future development process a series of accessibility tests testing all the views for accessibility issues will be added with the help of axe-matchers gem with it's RSpec integration. This testing mechanism will be developed as follows:-
1. Setting up RSpec

group :development, :test do
gem ‘rspec-rails’
gem ‘axe-matchers’


require ‘rspec/rails’ 
require ‘capybara/rspec’
require ‘axe/rspec’

Now a basic accessibility test will look like:
This test to run successfully will require chromedriver to be installed .

require ‘rails-helper’
RSpec.feature HomeController do
scenario “home page must have no accessibility issues” do
driver = Selenium::WebDriver.for :chrome


expect(page).to be_accessible

The installation of chromedriver will be done in .travis.yml file
In install section

- wget
- unzip -d /home/travis/virtualenv/python2.7.12/bin/
- export CHROME_BIN=chromium-browser

In matrix section

- TASK="rspec spec spec/features"

The output of the tests will be like:

Such tests will be written for all the pages of with various inclusion and exclusion clauses( like excluding the header and footer).

These all the above implementations will help to be more accessible to it's users.



What resources will you need: people, documentation, literature, sample data, hardware if applicable
I will require the guidance of mentors for this project and is open for any help by the community members. The mentor's help and support will be the biggest resource that I will require to complete this project successfully.

First Time Contribution

I have been a active member for PublicLab since the beginning of January 2020. I have worked on issues involving both frontend and backend work.I have also opened a good number of first timers only issues to increase the community outreach. I have also reviewed some of the first timers only issues and helped the new contributors to get started smoothly. I have made around 14 commits till now in plots2 and have created around 29 issues in the repository and is currently working on some issues and would like to contribute even in the future.
** Recent activity:**

Comments, to show overall community involvement (like helping others):
Tell us how you've learned about writing software; what languages you've been learning, if you've worked on other projects, links to GitHub or other code repositories or samples.
I am a second year student pursuing Msc. Physics + B.E Computer Science from Bits Pilani, Pilani Campus. I have been learning Ruby on Rails for almost a year now, starting with a online Udemy course by Rob Percival and created some projects based on Ruby on Rails platform . I have also completed a course related to this project:
Web Accessibility by Google
Below is shown my skillset:
Ruby, Javascript, Python, C++,Java

Web Technology
Ruby on Rails
I am comfortable in how to create pull requests and work in github and has become comfortable with the code base of plots2 which will help in smooth completion of the project.

Team Work

Describe teams you've worked with before, whether open or closed source, and in what capacity you participated. Cite examples of how you were self-motivated and self-sufficient.
I have participated in various team events. I with one of my friend created a Tourist guide application in java.
I have also taken part in various coding competitions in my college that require team participation .
Regarding team participation in PublicLab, it is overwhelming and joyful to work under guidance of great community members. In just a short span of my contribution to PublicLab I have learnt a lot from @SidharthBansal, @jywarren, @cesswairaimu and all other community members . I would like to work in this awesome team in the future as well.


What about our projects, and Public Lab, interests you? What are you passionate about? Open science, environmental justice? The basic objective of PublicLab is to solve the environmental issues together and share various awesome ideas and research notes related to the environment by all the users of PublicLab. This inspires me to work for this organization. Also through my knowledge of code I would like to solve a real life problem which could bring change in people's lives . My project on improving 'Site Wide Accessibility' inspires me a lot to make the life of the users who are not able to access the website in a normal way, a little easy .


Whom do you want your work to help? We especially appreciate proposals which make technologies and techniques more welcoming and friendly to those who've often been excluded.
Through this project I would like to help the differently - abled users of who after the project's completion would be able to access the website in a more easy and smooth manner. It would be a great feeling to help such people and making contribution to make their life a bit easy.


Do you understand this is a serious commitment, equivalent to a full-time summer job? Tell us how you'll structure your schedule from day to day!
I fully understand the seriousness and the commitment required to complete this project and I am ready to devote myself fully to complete this project in the summers. I would be able to devote 6-7 hours daily for the completion of this project.


@warren @bansal_sidharth2996 Please have a look on my proposal and share your views. Also please guide me on accesslint. @bansal_sidharth2996 Testing done by axe matchers could do all tests in one go , So would it be appropriate to include testing after each task completion? Thanks!

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

Reply to this comment...

Hi Suyash, it is superb! I loved the your hardwork in searching out the solutions to the problems. I think we will be inclined to circle ci. But let's wait for Jeff's input. Thanks. Great work! Sidharth

Thanks @bansal_sidharth2996 for your inputs. What are your views on the testing thing ? Should it be done individually or all at the end, because axe matchers can do it all just by a single clause.

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

Reply to this comment...

Login to comment.