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CSS Corp Aiming to Automate Accessibility Testing

 

CSS Corp recently briefed NelsonHall on the work it does around accessibility testing in the U.S. and about a suite of three accelerators it recently introduced for meeting the requirements of the U.S. American Disability Act (ADA) of 2010.

What Is ADA?

One of the aims of ADA is to make documents, websites and mobile apps more accessible to people suffering from visual, movement, language, and hearing impairment. It applies to all the websites of all businesses with at least 15 employees and federal entities (section 508 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973).

ADA requires adherence to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 guidelines issued by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 2008 that have been an ISO standard since 2010.

WCAG is structured around three levels (A, AA, AAA) and has 12 accessibility testing guidelines, relying on 61 parameters in total. For instance, parameter 1.1. (in level A) recommends that websites provide alternatives such as large prints, braille, speech, symbol, or simpler language to text. Guideline 2.1 (also in level A) recommends that websites make all functionality available from a keyboard.

In the U.S., federal entities need to comply with AAA, while businesses only need to meet the less demanding A and AA levels. Compliance requirements are spreading: Canada requires its federal government entities to meet WCAG standards for its online web pages, documents, and videos. The EU also requires both websites and mobile apps to comply with level AA from 2019.

What Does CSS Corp Bring?

CSS Corp has developed a suite of three accelerators for automating accessibility testing across the WCAG’s 61 parameters. The accelerators are:

  • SPEAR: analyzes webpages, identifies ADA-compliant and non-compliant areas, and provides the file name where in the source code the defect. It also makes a change suggestion. To date, CSS Corp has automated 30 parameters, mostly in level A and believes SPEAR can identify 80% of all ADA compliance issues
  • SOMA: performs unit testing of the fixes detected by SPEAR. So far, CSS Corp estimates it can automate 20% of these fixes (e.g. images, page titles headers, and image size) while human intervention is still required for content
  • N-Abler: is a screen reader that is automated for identifying defects and reporting them. CSS Corp estimates that N-Abler can automate 80% of defect identification. N-Abler is used for regression testing, and complements SPEAR by bringing reports, and bringing its screen reader testing capabilities.

Of the three accelerators, CSS Corp believes that SPEAR has the most value as it provides a view of passed and failed webpages. CSS Corp is also enhancing SOMA focusing on context-dependent fixes (e.g. an entry or error message).

As well as these three accelerators, CSS Corp also offers a consulting services for organizations that want to make use of the WCAG standards to provide a comprehensive accessibility testing service, rather than simply meeting the U.S. legal requirements of ADA levels.

CSS Corp is currently deploying its suite of ADA accelerators with a number clients. For one client, a U.S. cosmetics firm, CSS Corp analyzed ~7.2k webpages, checking 13 ADA parameters. The six-month project involves the client’s main U.S. website plus local sites.

UX Testing Needs Automation, such as ADA testing automation

Automating accessibility testing is difficult, and requires moving from traditional test execution software tools. We are pleased to see CSS Corp pioneering this. CSS Corp will continue to invest in both SPEAR and SOMA and will doubtless increase the level of automation beyond the current 20% mark within SOMA.

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