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Accessibility Challenges and Tool Features: An IBM Web Developer Perspective


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Presentation at W4A 2010 Conference by Shari Trewin. Please refer to conference proceedings for accessible version.

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Accessibility Challenges and Tool Features: An IBM Web Developer Perspective

  1. 1. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Accessibility Challenges and Tool Features: An IBM Web Developer Perspective Shari Trewin, Brian Cragun*, Cal Swart, Jonathan Brezin, John Richards IBM Research / *IBM Human Ability & Accessibility Center
  2. 2. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Web Content Evolution
  3. 3. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center • Tools, techniques and training • Unified technology-specific checklists • Test processes • Compliance tracking
  4. 4. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Developer Survey 11 11 15 1 2 8 1 49 RIA developers from Rational, Lotus, Cognos, Websphere, Tivoli
  5. 5. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Expertise • 7.3 yrs Web development experience • 4.1 yrs RIA/DHTML experience Accessibility Novice Expert Intermediate
  6. 6. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Tools Used Automated Assistive Test Technology Tool 11% 62% 16% None 8%
  7. 7. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Information on Requirements • 68% used IBM’s CI162 checklists and guidelines, • 35% referred to W3C Web pages describing accessibility standards, and • 14% reported using accessibility information found via Google searches. Other external sites included the Section 508 standards, Java and Dojo documentation.
  8. 8. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Main Browser for Development Multi IE Firefox & IE Firefox
  9. 9. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Creating an Accessible Product Difficult aspects Cited by Time consuming Cited Design 30% aspects by Using the test 30% Testing 30% tools Technology 21% Finding 27% workarounds workarounds Retrofitting 18% Making time/ 21% Setup 12% prioritizing False positives 12% Understanding 12% Cross-browser 9% requirements support
  10. 10. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Limiting Factors • 78% wanted to do more on accessibility but were limited by: – Lack of time (48%) – Limitations in the technology (30%) – Lack of knowledge (15%) – Budget (15%) – Conflicts with other requirements (11%)
  11. 11. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Testing is Still Too Hard “Running [assistive technology] and [test tool] took the most time. Any coding done for accessibility was more straightforward than using the tools.”
  12. 12. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Trouble Using AT “The screen reader behavior was not entirely well-defined and Assistive Technology sometimes inconsistent. For Browser example, there were instances where it read twice and sometimes did not read at all (without Web apparent reason).” App
  13. 13. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Hard to Pinpoint Problems AT “we don’t even know Browser if it is the browser, App Flash, or it is the technology that we are using is having the problem” Application state Widgets User-generated content Technologies 3rd party Templates components
  14. 14. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Accessibility is a Moving Target “[test tool and assistive technology] don't always work as well as they should. [assistive technology] does not yet take into account all the latest WAI-ARIA roles and specifications that we must follow. It can also be buggy and read things off incorrectly. [test tool] reports errors that are sometimes ambiguous and/or unnecessary.”
  15. 15. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools What Do Developers Want? Suggested features: – List of automatically detected problems – Explanation of each problem observed – Ability to pinpoint errors – Visualization of experience of user with a disability – Tight integration with development environment – Checklist of manual checks – Example solutions – Ability to automatically test all possible states – Ability to run a predefined interaction sequence – Indication of problem severity
  16. 16. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Tool Features
  17. 17. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Tool Features Score is a weighted sum of positive responses
  18. 18. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Tool Features Most valued features: list of automatically detected problems and explanation
  19. 19. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Tool Features Experts gave higher overall ratings
  20. 20. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Tool Features Accessibility experts valued visualization, others less so
  21. 21. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Tool Features Integration with development environment not a priority
  22. 22. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Other Suggestions “would like a tool that would suggest adding ARIA roles and appropriate properties to html tags inside of [development environment]” “I would like to see a mapping tool that would map out your site based on the navigation of a person using accessibility tools. So we would check what they are reading and if they get where they need.”
  23. 23. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Caveats • Small sample • Not a representative sample – of RIA developers, or IBMers • Accessibility expertise was self-reported • Under-reporting of information-finding problems
  24. 24. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Accessibility Test Tools • Developers want – more usable tools – list of problems and GOOD explanation – avoid false positives – ability to pinpoint errors – more automation • … not dynamic support features?
  25. 25. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Number of reponses Visualize User Experience 15 10 expert intermediate 5 novice 0 no maybe yes important essential Value of this feature “ … more useful than a product that tries to magically find problems.” “… needs to be easy though. If this is extremely difficult to configure or perform most individuals won't do it or will perform the test too late.”
  26. 26. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Enhance Understanding Highlight problems Suggest logical sequence of steps Offers solutions Shows user’s Describes view what to check
  27. 27. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Accessibility Infrastructure • Workarounds are a major source of difficulty • Conforming to a standard should be sufficient • Need to work towards consistent, complete cross-browser implementations of standards • Invest in accessible widget libraries and platforms
  28. 28. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Main Findings Tools are essential, but … – startup cost for testing is significant – Problem understanding is vital – false positives are a big problem – can’t pinpoint source of the problem
  29. 29. IBM Research: Accessibility Tools Research Topics • Greater automation of accessibility tests • Ways to develop expertise through using the tools • Predict/simulate how assistive technologies will behave • Simple visualizations • Investigate false positives