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Accessibility Compliance: What Developers need to know and when?

At times, Accessibility Testing defects get Development team focus at fag end of a release in the right perspective. Prior to this, Functional testing is a priority since basic functionality of system must work to get through Integration and User Acceptance Testing (UAT).

It is important for Development team to understand core concepts of Accessibility as well as the exact code level changes to be done during defect fixing. And this needs to happen well in advance during initial stage when requirements would be signed off.

This understanding could happen in several ways. 

Creating Awareness

There could be an initial awareness session on Accessibility, its legal compliance across Geos ( Sec 508 compliance for USA) , followed by some detail sessions for each of the Accessibility checkpoints wherein demo could be arranged and the context at code level explained. 
Development team could also get hands on as to how people with impairments actually work with systems. 
Simulated environment ( a simple one could be operating only with keyboard with mouse detached from m/c) created could give them detail insights on what is the exact impact of each accessibility issue and what needs to be changed at a code level (code, CSS, Javascript et al).

Once awareness and demo session with simulated environment are done, team would then focus on code context for each checkpoint. This would pave way for them compared to just looking at a checkpoint and fixing the code in isolation without understanding the context.  

What Developers need to know?

Following could be a quick list for what development team needs to know/ go through:

  • Overview of Accessibility
  • Legal compliance requirement for Accessibility in project
  • Understanding issues in simulated environment
  • Relation of each issue/checkpoint with actual code
  • Efforts required for code change during defect fixes


Having a prior detail understanding of each of the Accessibility checkpoints and its code in context will drastically reduce analysis time during actual defect fixing.Team would know very quickly what is each issue and what needs to be done to fix it.

Efforts on cross team coordination, discussion with Accessibility experts, and availability of key stakeholders during defect fixes could be thus avoided. 

Accessibility defect fixes could be tough if Development team does not have prior awareness and right context. This can be overcome by timely, planned training sessions and simulation methods for the team.

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