My name is Phil Springall and I’m a Web Editor at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. I help manage content on our web sites and part of that is doing some accessibility testing. I’m a librarian by training and got my feet wet in accessibility working at the CNIB Library… but I don’t want to talk today about who I am, I want to talk about who I’m not. I’d like to start with something that has nothing to do with accessibility but that really bothers me.
On the slide I have three screenshots from a celebrity lookalike app. Every time I put my picture into this app I get the same result: you look like Paul Giamatti. If I can describe Paul for you I’d say he’s a very talented actor but he’s… well, he’s not really who I’d chose to play me in a movie. I want to be clear here so you’re not distracted: the person talking to you right now is NOT Paul Giamatti.
I’m also not a Web developer. I know some HTML, if your thing is Geocities sites from 1994 by all means get in touch. I’ve done some QA testing but I’m not a QA analyst and I’m not a person with a disability. Without being any of these I still believe that I, and you, have a role to play in accessibility testing.
So, quick agenda for today. I want to talk about why you should test, what you can do, and finally what you probably shouldn’t do.
So, why should you test. Well, I like to think that accessibility is kind of like ice cream: the longer you ignore it, the messier things get. Whether it’s content updates or technological advancements every day your site becomes less accessible. You don’t stay accessible, you are always working towards it. So really, when it comes to accessibility, if you aren’t moving then you’re moving backwards. You need to get started before things get really messy. Eat your ice cream!
You should also test because most of us don’t know what we’re doing. There are people at this conference that can tell you all about JAWS scripting. I kind of know what that is… but I don’t really know what that is. And that’s okay. Lots of JAWS users don’t know what that is, or need to know. Think about Word, how many features to you actually use? It’s the same thing for assistive tech. Don’t think that the knowledge gap between you and your users is so vast as to be insurmountable. You don’t need to be an expert to get started.
Finally, you should test because some of us had better know what we’re doing. AODA is on the way and it’s no longer just a good idea to be accessible, you have to be accessible. This is a big ask for a lot of organizations and hopefully there’s not just one person on the hook for it. The work should be spread out throughout the organization and this is where you come in: you work there, so what can you do?
You can download stuff. Toolbars, extensions, simulators, automated testers. By the end of this conference you'll probably have a list of these you can download and try out. These are quick and simple ways to give you some insight into how users access your site. But don’t stop with you. Maybe instead of just sharing your conference notes when you get back to your job you should demo what your site looks like for someone that’s color blind. Show don’t tell, it’s much more impactful.The other thing you can do is ignore WCAG. Just forget about it… no, don’t do that! WCAG is super important BUT f you don’t understand WCAG, if you’re out there reading the many blog posts explaining it… maybe don’t start by testing against WCAG? Maybe don’t start by testing your site out against a set of criteria you can barely understand, start testing against what you know: your site. What do people want to accomplish on your site? Because this is not going to happen…
No one is going to call you and say, “Hi! I’m calling about WCAG 2.0 section 3.1.2 Language of Parts. You’re aware that the human language of each passage of phrase in your content wasn’t programmatically determined, right?”. That won’t happen. If it does… good luck. What’s more likely to happen is this next example…
Someone calling you up to say, “Who’s this Fran Sigh person you keep linking to?”. Anybody know who Fran Sigh is? It’s the word “Français” without the French language attribute assigned to it when read by an English screen reader. This is an example of section 3.1.2 Language of Parts. If you test to what people want to accomplish on your site you will start to check off the WCAG criteria, maybe not all of them but definitely the ones that matter most to your users.
At some point you’re going to want to set aside your extensions and toolbars and do what your users do, the way they do it. Just y’know start tabbing. Magnify your screen and get lost in all the white space. Change the contrast. Disable images. Take out your phone and try Talkback or Voiceover and if you use the latter try that rotor dealie, I can never get that to work. It’s frustrating. Get frustrated. Try bad sites, not just your bad site but other ones. Try good ones, spot the differences. Try a screenreader and that if intimidates you do what I do: open up a text editor and type in, “You’re doing a great job Phil”. Then whenever you’re thinking, “Am I doing a great job?” open up your document and have your screenreader read that back to you.
Indulge me. I want you to hear how it feels to have your screenreader heap praise.
[Embedded audio where screenreader says, “You’re doing a great job Phil…. Has anyone told you that you look like Paul Giamatti?”]
That’s not funny.
Anyway, if you keep this up two things will happen: you’ll find problems on your site to fix. If I can find them, you can. You’ll also start to understand your users: the tools they use, the methods they use, and their frustrations. In micro amounts, but you’ll start to understand their frustrations.
So, what shouldn’t you do. Well I know I said you would start to understand your users but you shouldn’t think you know your users. You don’t. The way you find that out is by engaging them. Ask them to help you test. And by that that I mean pay them to help you, compensate people for the work they do. There will definitely be people in this crowd wondering, “Where do I find these people?”. First and foremost you’re at an accessibility conference so y’know, ask around. But if you really can’t find your users there are businesses now like Access Works where you can pay to hire people who use assistive tech to test your site.
The other thing you shouldn’t do is confuse accessibility for usability. Let’s say you’ve got WCAG 2.0 section 3.1.2 Language of Parts down and “Français” is saying “Français” and “c’est magnifique”. If you have that language toggle in the footer of your site your users are going to have to wade through a lot of English before they know that they have an option for French. Don’t get so hung up on compliance with accessibility standards that you forget about usability. Sometimes what you think is an accessibility issue ends up being a usability one, they go hand in hand.
The final thing you shouldn’t do is hire an accessibility consultant, more than once. Actually hire as many as you want as often as you want, it’s your money, but the idea here is to get that knowledge out of a person, particularly one that doesn’t even work in your organization, and into your process. Get it into your standards, best practices, and pattern libraries then next time your testing will go a lot smoother.
So, in summary. You don’t have to be an expert but you’ll never be one if you don’t start. Test what you know in ways, and with people, that are new to you. And finally, and most importantly, the person speaking right now is NOT Paul Giamatti.
Thanks for your time, any questions?
"How do you get this damn thing to stop talking?!": Web accessibility testing (when it's only part of your job)
"How do you get this damn
thing to stop talking?!":
Web accessibility testing
(when it’s only part of your job)
September 28, 2017 / #a11yTOConf
I’m also not a…
• Web developer
• QA analyst
• Person with a disability
• Why you should test
• What you can do
• What you probably shouldn’t do
Why you should test
• Accessibility is kind of
like ice cream
• Most of us don’t know
what we’re doing
• Some of us had better
know what we’re doing
What you can do
• Download stuff
• Ignore WCAG (just
kidding!… sort of)
This shouldn’t happen
“Hi! I’m calling about WCAG 2.0 section 3.1.2
Language of Parts. You’re aware that the human
language of each passage of phrase in your
content wasn’t programmatically determined,
This might happen
“Who’s this Fran Sigh person you keep linking
What you can do
• Download stuff (toolbars, add-ons, simulators,
• Ignore WCAG (just kidding!... sort of)
• Do what your users do, the way they do it
What you shouldn’t do
• Think that you know
• Confuse accessibility
• Hire an accessibility
consultant (more than
• You don’t have to be an expert but you’ll
never be one if you don’t start
• Test what you know in ways, and with people,
that are new to you
• The person speaking right now is NOT Paul