Notice Regarding Drupal 7’s Menu Sidebar Navigation

WebTech has implemented a mechanism that allows users to display all collapsible/expandable menu links in a list format. You can find an example of this menu on pages like the CSE Departments page or the CHSS Graduate Psychology Programs page.

Which users are affected?

The current collapsible/expandable menu has been determined inaccessible for the following populations of users:

  • Anyone using screen reader technology
  • Anyone that uses keyboard-only navigation to visit our website
  • Anyone that has overall difficulty using this menu system

Which sites are affected?

This menu is currently implemented on Drupal 7 sites. Some of the sites with this menu include:

  • Western college sites (CFPA, CSE, CBE, etc.)
  • Western departments and services (ATUS/STC, Budget Office, Counseling, etc.)
  • Western institutes (MERI, PCI, Energy, etc.)

How does it work?

When users encounter the dialog, they can choose whether to display all the links and remove the expand/collapse functionality of the menu, or keep going to leave the menu as is. If users choose to display all links, that decision is recorded in the browser and remembered. This means if a user exits a browser and goes to that site in a new site visit, or navigates to another page, the user will have the accessible version loaded instead of the default menu.

When this option is chosen, the option to turn the default menu back on is always provided, in case the user would like the default menu to load again.

Why isn’t the menu just being fixed?

While accessibility errors should be fixed, there were a number of factors that affected our ability to fix this menu in a timely manner:

  • Drupal 7 will be considered a legacy system by 2021, which means it is crucial we update to a more accessible platform. We are actively upgrading our Drupal sites from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, which has a more accessible theme and user interface.
  • Fixing this menu potentially meant fixing an entire jQuery UI library, which could mean breaking other modules that rely on this library.
  • Similarly, this could’ve also been fixed by fixing the specific Drupal module responsible for this menu, but other modules could depend on this module and end up being affected as well.
  • Trying to implement any of the above fixes would’ve taken months to release a fix, instead of weeks to provide an option to improve the menu functionality.

Questions about this notice?

Please contact Carly Gerard (gerardc@wwu.edu) or David Engebretson (engebrd2@wwu.edu) with any accessibility questions or concerns. For general web assistance, please contact Web Communication Technologies at webhelp@wwu.edu.