How to bring accessibility into your teams
Tim Berners Lee once said “The power of the web is its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
This is something we should not brush off or take lightly. Accessibility testing is vital especially when your product is a user-facing application. We need to be socially aware as a team and build quality towards our product by making it more accessible.
This is quite crucial and the sooner we as testers can advocate this to our teams, we make our product more accessible, reduce product risks, reputation, and also be more socially aware. In this session, Laveena provides background information about accessibility, the importance of accessibility, tips and insights on how to bring it to your team, and so on. So let’s shift left and make accessibility testing built-in to our teams.
Did you know there are around 4 million employees with a disability just in the UK? In Canada, the corresponding number is over 18 million people. These numbers make us wonder, are we making it accessible for them?
For individuals without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For individuals with disabilities, technology makes things possible.
Laveena came across accessibility as a tester for the first time while working at a well-known bank trying to create an open banking system. When the product went live, the Team Leader asked her if they made it accessible. While trying to understand what the Team Leader meant and what they did wrong, she explained to the team they need to make the product accessible for everyone including people with certain disabilities like visual disability or motor disability. After this experience, Laveena did some research and started to understand the importance of accessibility.
(07:41)Why is accessibility important?
- Community - a relationship you build with the community to make sure that everyone can access a product or an application.
- Smart - business-wise, making a product accessible is a smart move.
- Innovation - it drives innovation because people will be keener to try an accessible application that is easier to use than an inaccessible application.
- Brand - it helps to enhance your branding due to the fact you are trying to reach everyone in the community and make sure they are involved.
- Market research - it makes you extend your market research since you are thinking about how to adjust the product so everyone could use it and not just me.
- Legalities - it minimizes legal risk. Manage your legalities now before the legalities catch you later on.
(09:12)Benefits of accessibility
- Reaching a wider audience
- Increases usability
- Satisfies current and future legal requirements and ethics
- Improves maintainability and efficiency
How Laveena brought accessibility to her team with the following steps
- Awareness - increase the awareness of accessibility while speaking to different staff members in the team and company.
- Slides - do some research and create informative slides that contain all the important points about accessibility .
- Communication - an important step in the process. Make sure to convey what you want to say with what you are actually saying. Have all your key points ready and try to focus on them without deviating from the main subject. Teams - Speak to different individuals and teams and present to them the slides you created.
- Research - do further research and suggest options regarding the product or application. For example, scrolling only horizontally is accessible enough or should we add a vertical option? Are we using the right colors to create a clear contrast and accessible visibility?
- Report - finally, create a report of what you tested and include suggestions, screens, tools, and so on. This report should include all the information so a UX designer could use it to make the product more accessible.
What did Laveena do? She delivered information and became a subject-matter expert for accessibility. It is crucial to ensure we deliver the right information and that it is regarded exactly the way we want it to.
How did Laveena convince her peers?
By explaining about accessibility and its importance, emphasizing that without accessibility they are exposed to potential problems in the future like legal issues.
How did Laveena back her point?
She presented to the team some important outputs from the research she did and from the report she created as well.
How did Laveena know they understood?
To make people understand your need great communication skills. Therefore, she worked on her communication skills and delivered the message with the right information about accessibility. It’s also important to think about what information people may find as obstacles, so we can remove them and eventually create a healthy discussion.
When/how to do accessibility testing?
The best time to start accessibility testing is as soon as possible! The design and planning stage is a great place to start. We could take into consideration the accessibility in features like color contrast, button type, aria-labels, etc. In addition, it is also important to check if there are any accessibility requirements for your team.
Good old Budget
Many times we move two steps forward but then get pushed five steps back because of budget constraints. For this topic, we should brush up on the budget for several reasons:
- Risk: we want our product to have a good reputation, and in order to gain this reputation, we should make it accessible to all users.
- Wider market share: we could significantly enlarge our customers and reach more people by simply making the application accessible.
- Free tools: there are some free tools available that can help you in your accessibility testing process.
- Importance: accessibility is important not just for both socially aware and business-wise. Sooner or later you will have to do it so why spend more money at the latest stages than doing it now?
(22:56)What to include in my accessibility report?
The report could be simple and summarized as well as fancy and very extensive, it’s all up to you! The main sections of the report should include:
- Areas you tested - mention the areas you would concentrate on your accessibility testing.
- Results - show the results of your accessibility testing efforts.
- Suggestions - provide suggestions that will help make the application more accessible.
- Checklist - create a checklist to ensure you got every testing aspect covered. The checklist could change based on your needs. For example: are the labels written and placed correctly and is the color contrast ratio maintained.
Advocate - becoming a subject-matter expert on accessibility.
Accomplished - various team members approach you and ask for your help making the product more accessible. This will also keep you in the loop.
Follow the steps (26:48)
Step 1 - research about accessibility and learn how your team could benefit from it.
Step 2 - have some details to showcase.
Step 3 - prepare an informative slide and sessions. Present to teams and individuals what you researched and back it up with important points.
Step 4 - have accessibility as part of your testing approach.
Some Quick Tips (27:32) There are many plugins you can download that could help you such as: ARC toolkit AXE WAVE Lighthouse Remove styling Screen Readers
4 principles of accessible content (29:00)
- Perceivable - can I perceive it?
- Operable - can I use it?
- Understandable - can I grasp it?
- Robust - can I access it?