Day 84: Strategies and Techniques for Fixing A11y Issues

Eighty-four (84) days in, and I made it to the end of the WAS Body of Knowledge (BOK)! I’m ready to go back through all my blog posts (journaling) to review things that I’m so nervous about forgetting by April. This will include pouring over the W3C’s Web A11y Evaluation Background Reading materials. I’ll also spend the last few weeks of these 100 days to work through the Deque courses that apply to this certification, and tie together ideas that will help me be a better Web Accessibility Specialist (WAS) in practice.

Today’s study session felt less productive, due to the topic implying review and application of all the things learned to be a WAS. However, the day did not go by without some positive steps toward taking the exam.

Things I accomplished

  • My request to take the WAS certification exam was accepted today, so I registered for the exam.
  • Read over the last section of the BOK: Recommend strategies and/or techniques for fixing accessibility issues.
  • Continued further through the Deque Accessibility Basics course.

What I learned today

A specialist or expert in web accessibility should have a solid understanding of:

  • how to evaluate web content using WCAG 2.0,
  • accessible web design,
  • web technologies,
  • assistive technologies,
  • how people with different disabilities use the Web,
  • accessibility barriers that people with disabilities experience,
  • assistive technologies and adaptive strategies that people with disabilities use, and
  • evaluation techniques, tools, and methods to identify barriers for people with disabilities.

Additionally, I think this person needs to bolster their project management and communication skills. Not only will they know what they’re talking about, but help educate and encourage the people they are helping with evaluation and remediation. A teacher and project manager, of sorts. Accessibility Pro Certified: To Be or Not To Be is a wonderful article that takes into consideration the idea of certification and what makes an accessibility pro or expert.

In order to recommend remediation strategies, a specialist has to understand:

  • how to create accessible content (the first major section of the BOK)
  • identify accessibility issues (the second major section of the BOK)
  • wisely choose an appropriate remediation technique that fits the goals and limitations an organization is working within (the third major section of the BOK)

This last study topic section in the BOK made me reflect back on all the considerations that go into prioritizing remediation, which often comes down to a balance of user and business impact. It circles back nicely to the start of the BOK, where I need to fully understand what accessible content is and how inaccessible content impacts users with disabilities.

 

Day 83: Prioritizing Remediation of A11y Issues

During today’s study session, I walked away with a lot of new-to-me information and useful steps to apply to my current work.

Things I accomplished

What I learned today

When starting an accessibility remediation project, start with a site’s core functionalities. Determine the issue’s origin (markup, style, functionality), then prioritize accessibility issues by severity of:

  • impact on users: does the problem have a user workaround or are they completely inhibited (blocked) from using a core functionality?
  • legal risk: related to user impact; is it a legal risk (based on functionality block and type of organization) or just a usability issue? take note of perceivability and repeat offenders
  • cost benefit: is the ROI greater than the time invested to remediate or lawsuit that may occur?
    e.g. ROI = ((Risk Amount – Investment) / Investment) * 100
  • level of effort to remediate (impact on business): how many changes (and where) have to be made?

WCAG conformance levels and success criteria are not the way to determine priority of remediation.

As mentioned in my notes about manual versus automated testing tools, it’s always best to target low-hanging fruit to begin quickly resolving issues.

When receiving an audit to proceed to remediation, people want to know:

  • where the problems are
  • what the problems are
  • how to fix them
  • not the specific technical guidelines and success criteria

Remediation is a hard lesson to learn in realizing that if things are made accessible from the start, less time and money is wasted.

Time is money. Just because you save time taking down inaccessible materials, time is added (technical debt shifted) to help desk lines or other resources.

I really liked Michigan State University’s accessibility severity scale:

  1. Level 4, Blocker: Prevents access to core processes or many secondary processes; causes harm or significant discomfort.
  2. Level 3, Critical: Prevents access to some secondary processes; makes it difficult to access core processes or many secondary processes.
  3. Level 2, Major: Makes it inconvenient to access core processes or many secondary processes.
  4. Level 1, Minor: Makes it inconvenient to access isolated processes.
  5. Level 0, Lesser: Usability observation.

Remediation procedure levels by Karl Groves:

  • simple: prioritization: time versus impact (user-centric)
  • advanced prioritization: scoring business and user impact (broken down by user type)
    (Impact + Repair Speed + Location + Secondary Benefits) * Volume = Priority

Best quote from today’s Deque course

Accessibility does not happen by accident. It has to be purposefully planned, built, and tested for accessibility.