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Including regular accessibility evaluation in a products design a development process is a vital step toward ensuring that you create accessible, inclusive experiences for everyone who uses your product or service.
According to the WHO, "around 15 per cent of the world’s population, or estimated 1 billion people, live with disabilities." As both population and life expectancy grow, this number is expected to increase. As of 2020, this figure is estimated at 13.2% in the United States, and has also been increasing over time.
In addition to the clear ethical, legal, and business reasons for choosing not to exclude this population, attention to accessible design can increase the quality of experience for users all across the spectrum of abilities. Curb cuts, for instance, make getting around easier for people in wheelchairs, and for people pushing strollers or rolling suitcases. Closed-captions are useful for people who are hard of hearing, and for those watching a video in a noisy environment.
Accessibility Evaluation is often more effective when it is informed by these complementary methods.
Define the concepts and relationships that inform effective structured content design
The system of links that allows users to move between pages of a website
Style Tile Creation
Communicate the use of fonts, colors, and interface elements in a design system
Interface illustration that focuses on prioritization, functionality, and behavior
Accessibility evaluation is not a "one time" check: it should be performed regularly throughout the development process in order to identify accessibility problems early, when it is easier to address them. The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) recommends starting to check the accessibility of a page with a set of "easy checks," including page title, image alt text, text (headings, size, and contrast), interaction, media, and structure.
A more in depth process follows the Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology, which includes five main steps:
- Define the scope of the evaluation
Defining what is included in the evaluation; the goal of the evaluation; and the WCAG conformance level (A, AA, AAA).
- Explore the website
Identifying key web pages; key functionality; types of web content, designs, functionality, etc.; required web technologies.
- Select a representative sample
Guidance on structured and randomly selected web pages when it is not feasible to evaluate every web page on a website.
- Evaluate the selected sample
Determining successes and failures in meeting WCAG; accessibility support for website features; and recording evaluation steps.
- Report the evaluation findings
Aggregating and reporting evaluation findings; making evaluation statements; and calculating overall scores.
Some information in this article is from the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) document: Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology. Shawn Lawton Henry and Shadi Abou-Zahra, eds. Copyright © 2022 W3C ® (MIT).
Accessibility Evaluation typically produces insight and solutions focused on these areas:
An assessment of the accessibility affordances of a product.
A measure of how effective site or application navigation is relative to business and user goals.
A measure of how easy and pleasant an interface is to use, relative to user and business goals.