AccessAbility Officer has a job readiness training program designed for non-sighted vocational rehabilitation customers who want to be digital accessibility testers. Students undergo 13.5 weeks of remote training. Each cohort is small and limited to four to 10 students.
As they work through the program, they’ll do real-world projects with private and public sector clients. The program includes 20 weeks of guaranteed part-time employment. The cohort is not time-dependent and multiple cohorts can run concurrently. This means new students can join at any time. They don’t have to wait for a 13.5-week session to end before joining.
Equal Entry is an accessibility consulting company that works with students in AccessAbility Officer’s Certified AccessAbility Testing program. We train them on our technology used for accessibility audits. This is a proprietary auditing and tracking system.
After landing an accessibility audit with a client, we set up our accessibility auditing and tracking system for the project. An Equal Entry team member begins by creating testing scenarios. These scenarios contain step-by-step what the tester will do. One scenario could be for the signup and login process, another one could be managing the user’s profile and preferences, and another scenario could be reviewing the help and terms.
After completing the scenarios, the tester uses the assigned platform and browser to work through the steps for each scenario. The tester will record the results of each step in the accessibility auditing and tracking system. This tracking system is accessible to screen readers.
The Need to Make Internal Tools Accessible
One of the problems in the accessibility industry is that a lot of times, the company’s tools are not accessible to its own employees. This can and has happened to companies that do accessibility work. This is why W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG). These are different from Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) because they target tools.
Here’s a simple example. When someone posts an image on a website, WCAG 1.1 states to provide text alternatives — also referred to as alternative text and alt text — for any non-text content. This ensures the text alternatives can be changed into people’s preferred output method.
If someone is using a screen reader, the text alternative will be read aloud. This lets the user know what the image contains. For someone using a refreshable Braille display, they will receive the text alternative in Braille.
ATAG, on the other hand, targets things like content management systems and social media platforms. The content management system and social media platform need to render text alternatives for non-text content. Social media platforms allow creators to publish content. The platform itself needs to be accessible. When you create a new tweet on Twitter, it has icons for adding photos or videos, GIFs, polls, emojis, and so on.
ATAG 2.1.1 requires “Text alternatives for rendered non-text content.” Therefore, the Photo icon needs to have a text alternative. When someone using a screen reader focuses on the Photo icon, they will hear “Add photos or video button.” After adding the photo, the user can enter a description for the image. Again, that’s Twitter’s platform satisfying ATAG 2.2.1 by making it possible for content creators to add text alternatives.
As mentioned before, Equal Entry has an accessible auditing platform used by its experienced testers. This platform keeps track of testing scenarios and results. Billy Boquila, an AccessAbility Officer tester, wrote up the steps on how to use the platform.
What happens is Equal Entry lands a client or project. We can contact AccessAbility Officer to request testers for accessibility testing. Equal Entry’s project manager provides the auditing and tracking system for the project to the testers. They proceed with their manual testing and reporting results using our accessible platform.
Artificial Intelligence in Accessibility Testing
Will artificial technology like ChatGPT and GPT-4 have a role in accessibility testing? Be My Eyes has recently announced the use of OpenAI’s GPT-4 language model in Virtual Volunteer, a digital visual assistant. This works seamlessly with the Be My Eyes mobile app that helps people who are visually impaired through live video calls.
With Virtual Volunteer, a user can take a photo of their refrigerator. Virtual Volunteer will identify the items and determine what the user can make with those ingredients. The tool provides recipes containing those ingredients and instructions.
How could AccessAbility Officer use this technology? Like with everything else, Gers indicated there were pros and cons. He said that testers may be able to use artificial intelligence like ChatGPT to identify an image. However, AI won’t be able to deduce contextual relevance or quantify the importance or severity of an accessibility barrier.
“It might tell you how to change your oil or write a history paper, but it is not yet good enough to functionally enhance or augment our accessibility testing team,” Gers says. “That being said, we do hope to build an AI platform that is specific to digital accessibility and we are very hopeful for that eventuality.”
Accessibility and Usability Testing
Accessibility testing focuses on testing the website or digital product to see if it’s accessible to disabled people and assistive technologies. Usability testing looks at how easy and intuitive it is to use the website or digital product. When it’s accessibility testing, the AccessAbility Officer uses Equal Entry’s auditing platform technology.
This tracks the tested items and whether they passed or failed. For those that failed, it references and links to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) success criteria. This makes it easier for the developer to find and refer to the guideline as they fix it.
For usability testing, AccessAbility Officer creates a usability report. It consists of a summary, test results, background information about the testers, and a conclusion with required actions.
AccessAbility Officer is building a bank or resource of testers to support the digital accessibility consulting that Equal Entry and others do. It could be web-based, virtual reality, or augmented reality. The two companies work on closing the gaps in the sighted requirements associated with virtual reality and augmented reality accessibility testing.
“I love working with EE because of their forward-thinking universal design and authentic commitment to digital inclusion,” says Tanner Gers, managing director of AccessAbility Officer.
“EE’s historical digital accessibility expertise combined with Thomas Logan’s ingenuity and innovative spirit is powerful,” he says. “Virtual reality, augmented reality, and digital environments like the metaverse are the future of work and play, so I’m glad Thomas is helping lead the way on that cutting edge so the disability community isn’t left behind as we quickly move into these new work and social experiences.”
Does Your Website or Technology Need to Be Audited for Accessibility?
Equal Entry has a rigorous process for identifying the most important issues your company needs to address. The process will help you address those quickly. If you’d like to learn more about our services, please contact us