HEY is for everyone

Accessibility is a priority.

If only all software companies involved their users in the development process as much as this the world would be a much more accessible place. Scott Ballard-Ridley
As a blind person who uses a screen reader, I greatly appreciate that the Hey Mail team makes accessibility a priority. Louis Lucero

Our approach to accessibility

Accessible design isn’t a one-time checkbox, it’s a commitment to making sure everything we ship works well for all of our customers.

  • We consider accessibility early and often. Every new feature is designed with accessibility in mind, and we aim to meet WCAG 2.1 level AA guidelines.
  • We work directly with customers. These interviews help us validate our work and continuously improve the user experience.
  • We scan new features for compliance. For this step, we use a browser extension like axe to make sure our desktop and mobile layouts meet the requirements.
  • We check for visible focus indicators, so it’s always clear which element on a page is focused.
  • We make sure headings are sequential, so they provide an accurate overview of the structure of each page.
  • We check color contrast with the aim of passing WCAG 2.1 level AA.
  • We hide decorative elements from assistive technology. Elements that are repetitive or purely decorative create excess verbosity for users of accessible tech.
  • We provide a “skip to main content” link at the top of each page so people can quickly bypass repetitive navigation links.
  • We test that everything works with keyboard navigation, making sure that a mouse isn’t required to perform any action throughout the app.
  • We run automated accessibility checks as part of our system testing suite. Whenever a system test visits a page or clicks something on it, axe-core automatically scans the page to help guard against regressions.

To-do, and to-done

We’ve shipped a ton of great accessibility improvements, but there’s more to do. Here are the broad strokes of what we’ve done since HEY launched and the big ticket items we’re still working on.

  • Done Bring screen reader users into our research and testing process.
  • Done Conduct an accessibility audit and create a prioritized backlog.
  • Done Dedicate >200 hours to fixing the most severe accessibility issues, making interactions consistent, and unifying components in order to make it easier for us to build accessible features going forward.
  • Done Add support for non-visual announcements, such as confirming the success or failure of an action.
  • Done Create an array of code level tools to aid how elements are described by assistive technology.
  • Done Integrate axe-core into our build tools for automated page audits.
  • To-do Work through our backlog of accessibility concerns.
  • To-do Publish a voluntary product accessibility template.
  • To-do Expand our user research program to include people with a broad range of abilities.

Suggested screen reader setup

For the best experience, we recommend using the HEY desktop app along with your preferred screen reader. Don’t forget to bookmark our handy keyboard shortcut reference guide!

  • When using JAWS, try toggling off virtual PC cursor mode when navigating through your message lists by pressing Insert + Z.
  • When using NVDA, try switching to Focus Mode when navigating through your message lists by pressing Insert + Space.
  • On iOS, we recommend using VoiceOver with the HEY iOS app.
  • On Android, we recommend using Talkback with the HEY Android app.

Questions? Accessibility concerns?
Reach out to us at accessibility@hey.com.