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Accessibility Compliance : What different User groups look for ?

Accessibility compliance is gaining more strength across organizations due to legal mandates.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) is referred as a broad guideline across geos, which takes into consideration major physical impairments and how to meet the needs of such users having impairments. t is vital for achieving accessibility compliance successfully in a program, that the teams engaged and working together, concerned groups are quite aware of their program specific accessibility guidelines.

There could be additional checkpoints added in WCAG guideline for program specific requirements or it could be a scenario where specific physically impaired user group can form larger user base and requires due attention.This leads to having a curiosity on what exactly, different physically impaired user groups look for on pages to get their regular, frequent tasks done.

Following are two major user groups discussed and what they typically look for while accessing a webpage or application:

Vision Impaired Users 
These users take help of a screen reader to access and read all content of a page. Typically, they work with individual pop up screens which provide them list of HTML links, list of Headers, list of editable form fields and list of frames, based on which they can navigate as per task requirement. Such visually impaired users look for following:

  • Does screen reader read all content of page?
  • Is skip navigation option available on each page to go directly to main content of page?
  • Are frame titles present and meaningful?
  • Are headings tagged in <H> tag of HTML semantics?
  • Are links making sense when read in isolation?
  • Do all images have meaningful alternate text?
  • Do all data tables have caption, summary and table headers in <TH> code for users to identify and get context

Keyboard only Users (Who cannot use mouse)

Keyboard only users typically look for following attributes in pages:

  • Does keyboard strokes or tab navigation allows to reach each and every content, UI control on page?
  • Is keyboard navigation getting trapped (not able to tab further on page) resulting in inability to complete a task (Example: filling a form)
  • Does the content/UI element in focus has a distinctly identifiable visual cue to know current location on page (Example: a black dotted line around a text field)
  • Does keyboard navigation provide an unexpected interaction? (Example: opening a new window unexpectedly on selection of a value from dropdown list)
  • Does a UI control change its role and status when keyboard focus reaches on it?

There could be different context or scenarios when vision impaired and keyboard users are expecting page content and controls to work in a certain way in order to complete their tasks in hand. These are two user groups discussed here, there are other user groups which I would discuss in subsequent post later.
Along with in-depth knowledge of accessibility guidelines, it is very important to observe such users in person while they are performing tasks.
This helps in understanding real life situations of such users, which accessibility experts can then relate back to success criteria defined in guidelines.

Combination of deep understanding of guidelines, tools in scope and observation of such users in real life helps in making any accessibility project a huge success.

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