Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A11Y Testing Using an Intelligent Agent - a #PNSQC2019 Live Blog

All right, we are in my wheelhouse now :).

As an #a11y advocate, I spend a lot of time talking about and hoping to get people excited about and see the value in focusing on the benefits of thinking about Accessibility.

First and foremost, let's talk about a sobering number. 75,000,000 people need wheelchairs but cannot afford them. Why is this number important? It underscores the moral obligation that we as a society have to help these people who otherwise would be left out of any realistic operation in society. The World Bank estimates that 1.125 billion people deal with some significant difficulties in daily life due to a disability. That is 15% of the world's population as of now.

These numbers, I hope, give emphasis to how many people are affected by Accessibility issues. There are also news stories that time and time again that show that businesses are slowly waking up to the fact that, if they don't do o out of moral or financial obligation, they may well end up paying for it in legal fees and lawsuits.

When I test for Accessibility issues, I tend to use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Sounds like a mouthful but ultimately it comes down to:

Is a site Perceivable?
Is a site Operable?
Is a site Understandable?
Is a site Robust?

In other words, does your site "POUR" ;)? No, that's not really a thing but I laugh about it anyway.

All right, enough merriment, how does Keith recommend we actually test and what can the automated tools actually help with? On the whole, automated testing has a LONG way to go when it comes to addressing Critical and Cognitive issues with sites. Most of the issues found have been found with human discernment (for those who have followed my comments about Accessibility over the past few years know that this meshes with my general opinion. It's nice to see actual data points that support it, too ;) ).

O course, with the title of this talk, I'm expecting that Kevin has some sort of a software anwer to this dilemma. To that effect, let's have a look at Agent A11Y!

Agent A11Y is capable of semi-autonomously exploring a website and evaluating its compliance with WCAG guidelines. As far as automated tools are concerned, that's a big step.

There is also additional tooling around manual testing of WCAG requirements, as a lot of WCAG is difficult to fully automate.

I had a hand in helping review this paper so I have had some experience with the end results of today's presentation. Having said that, I'm very excited to get a chance to play with this in the wild.

No comments: