The official website of the White House, WhiteHouse.gov, has been completely replaced with a new version for the Biden administration, and it comes with some unexpected accessibility features: a high contrast mode, which serves as a dark mode, and a toggle to make the font size larger.
Both options show up along the left rail as big, easy-to-click or tap buttons, and that’s the way you’ll need to toggle them. Even if your device has a system-wide dark mode, the White House website won’t switch over automatically. That’s because it’s really there to serve as an accessibility feature, meant to help anyone who would have trouble reading or looking at a bright white screen with black text.
With dark mode being very popular among heavy computer users as well, people online were understandably excited to see the change.
THE WHITEHOUSE WEBSITE HAS DARK MODE I’M LOSING IT. pic.twitter.com/7kXlBhUXeJ— Sara Ownbey Chipps (@SaraJChipps) January 20, 2021
The large text mode — no surprises — makes the text on the site significantly larger, while still preserving the layout, something that may not be true when using a browser’s built-in zoom ability.
Acting as a recruiting tool for anyone who’s looking into the site’s code, the HTML header also makes a callout to the US Digital Service. The group, led by a former Google engineer, is tasked with making sure US government websites are as good as any of the other ones we visit on a daily basis.
While the previous WhiteHouse.gov site wasn’t a trainwreck by any means (at least technically speaking), it’s good to see that the new administration is taking accessibility and digital competency seriously from the start.
US Digital Service is a really big deal to help rebuild the country https://t.co/B527dWpDr1— craig newmark (@craignewmark) January 20, 2021
The site also has an addition to help with inclusivity — the “Contact Us” form now asks the user for their preferred pronouns. The change was spotted by GLAAD, and hopefully speaks to a trend with the current administration. Vice President Kamala Harris also includes her pronouns in her personal Twitter bio (though they aren’t yet in her @VP bio,) which is something that we haven’t yet seen from a president or vice president.
Update January 20th, 3:28PM ET: Added that the website’s contact form now also allows the user to input their preferred pronouns.
Update January 20th, 3:45PM ET: Clarified that Kamala Harris having her pronouns in her Twitter bio is a first for the office of the president or vice president.