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31 Mar 2022

Help us improve Windows High Contrast Mode support in Wagtail

As part of Google Summer of Code, we want to bring Windows High Contrast mode improvements to Wagtail

Jane Hughes profile picture

Jane Hughes

Front-end Developer

Wagtail’s accessibility team have been focussing a lot of effort into Windows High Contrast Mode support over the last year. This year, as part of Google Summer of Code, we’ve proposed Windows High Contrast mode support as a project.

What is Windows High Contrast Mode (WHCM)?

Also known as Contrast Themes in recent versions of Windows, WHCM is a free, built-in piece of software which provides users the ability to customise the colours of their operating system. It uses a limited colour palette to reduce and simplify the colours of any given UI. It also removes background images and drop shadows which can make it difficult for low-vision users to perceive information. Here’s a preview of Wagtail in WHCM, tested via Assistiv Labs:

Screenshot of Windows high contrast mode in Assistiv Labs, with the main navigation opened over page listings

Why is this important for Wagtail?

WHCM is a very helpful tool for users who would otherwise struggle with perceiving UI components without customisation. For example, it highlights boundaries and borders in high contrast colours, making it easier for users to perceive input fields, simplifying the UI down to its core elements. In WebAim’s 2018 survey of low-vision users, 51.4% of respondents reported using some form of high contrast mode, the majority of whom preferred using light text on a dark background. WHCM is also completely free and therefore more accessible to users as they don’t need to purchase additional screen magnifying software.

Help us by getting involved with Google Summer of Code!

We currently have a backlog of issues which came from a large audit run by Kyle Bayliss and have split the fixes over multiple tickets to make this more accessible for anyone who wants to help.

If you’re interested in helping us achieve this goal, check the GitHub discussion and introduce yourself in the #gsoc Slack channel! We’re particularly keen to hear from people who might have personal experience of access and functional needs, or who are regular users of assistive technologies.