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Client Stories

America’s Test Kitchen: Making the home cooking experience accessible

The Client:

America’s Test Kitchen’s mission is to investigate the fundamental principles of cooking to provide home cooks with the recipes, techniques, tools, and ingredients needed to succeed in the kitchen. They perform thousands of tests every year, and are helping curious cooks become confident cooks through their magazines, cookbooks, television shows, podcasts, and websites.

The Challenge:

As a multiplatform media company, America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) creates magazines, cookbooks, and television shows, and invests in digital products in order to reach a wider audience.

That wider audience includes people with disabilities. Being more inclusive in the content they create, and the way they create it became a priority for ATK.

Product Manager Molly Farrar works with ATK’s digital experiences and is prioritizing accessibility. “We put a lot of time and thought into the content we’re creating, whether that’s recipes, reviews or videos. We want our audience to be able to consume that content in the way that’s best for them. That’s why accessibility matters to us. Every recipe needs to be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. We want to create a positive experience — no matter how the content is accessed — so everyone can make delicious food.”

The Solution:

ATK partnered with Perkins Access to support the infrastructure changes needed to make their digital products more accessible. Perkins Access evaluated key content and provided ongoing expert guidance through ATK’s design, development and remediation process. Through training and hands-on support, Perkins Access helped ATK build accessibility into their process, to ensure their digital experience works for all of their users.

Farrar said, “We’re early in our journey, but learning a lot and already seeing home cooks benefit from accessibility.”

As ATK increased its focus on digital experiences, short-form videos across their sites increased, including recipe how-tos, step-by-step videos, taste tests, equipment reviews and new original programming, such as YouTube shows. ATK videos also now have human-authored captions, which are more accurate and therefore provide a richer experience.

Not only has ATK updated existing content, but this increased focus on accessibility has changed their best practices for creating content going forward. Farrar said, “Now, whenever we shoot a video, captioning is part of the process.”

Building accessibility into their process expands beyond captioning. Farrar said, “Coming from the product manager perspective, accessibility is something that you have to create space for in your roadmap or in your sprints. If you’re addressing existing infrastructure, you have to resource for it. If you’re planning new features, you have to build accessibility into the design and development process. It will make it a lot easier for you in the future.”

The Outcome:

ATK’s front-end engineering team devotes time every week to improve digital accessibility. Farrar said, “We are creating digital experiences that are meant to delight users and meant to provide information. Those experiences really need to consider all users. There is a benefit for businesses to practice inclusive design and have experiences and products that all users can benefit from.”

Through an ongoing partnership with Perkins, both design and engineering teams have expanded their web accessibility knowledge. Farrar said, “Many team members weren’t familiar with web accessibility before — it wasn’t covered in their education — but now they’re utilizing resources Perkins provided and, because of our work together, seeking to learn more.”

And ATK has even taken accessibility beyond digital, to make an impact organization-wide. They’ve recently started to think about how they can account for more users when reviewing products, specifically keeping home cooks with mobility impairments in mind.