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Information Technology as a driver for accessibility

What defines the word accessibility? If not a two-way street, where each can go back and forth through it. Thinking about accessibility means accepting that the world can be the same for everyone. But when we talk about equality in a contemporary world, we say the word “utopia”, but as Eduardo Galeano would define utopia is the same way I define and think about accessibility. “Utopia is over the horizon. I approach two steps, it moves away two steps. I walk ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps. As much as I walk, I will never reach. What is utopia for? It’s for that: so that I don’t stop walking”. Accessibility is in the same pattern, not only as a utopia that makes us walk, but also does not leave our inert human side to our ability to make a different world.

Accessibility is one of the ways we move in a continuous movement towards the horizon, the future and especially from a universe where people with disabilities (PCD), foreigners, technology lay people can find in this word a foundation to be able to also enjoy the benefits of technology. When we think of this two-way street, we cannot help believing that accessibility is not just a group-oriented, minority-based action, but also a movement that turns us towards the same point at the end of it.

 Thinking about the contemporary portrait of Brazil, today according to the sense of IBGE 2010, there are more than 45 million people with some “special need”. These numbers are the population of Argentina, or Spain, or a quarter of the often-neglected Brazilian population. When we talk about global accessibility, we still include older people, foreigners, among others who contain some kind of limitation with objects in reality, or in the virtual world.

Talking about accessibility is not just becoming the speaker of a repetitive, tiresome or idealistic speech from a world that many do not think exists. To speak of accessibility is to use Heidegger’s phrase “to become”, to create the German word dazein (existence) within oneself to understand and to inhabit one’s particular universe.

Thinking of an accessible digital world today we have the foundation guidelines of WCAG 2.1 as the way to program and build websites, applications, technologies that are adapted to the accessible world for all subjects. The creation of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) was necessary when W3C realized the need to standardize accessibility issues within web pages. WCAG is not just about creating accessibility standards for people with special needs, but for people who need an easier-to-access digital world. So WCAG, with its development, thinks of people with autism, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), people with disabilities, foreigners, the elderly, lay people in the world of technology, etc. So accessibility is a two-way hand because for a long time the word “accessibility” was used only for people with some physical limitation, unlike how it is viewed today that everyone can access the same information, the same pleasures, the same situations and the same experiences.

The job of accessibility in the digital world is to analyze websites, applications, technologies and see if they are based on WCAG guidelines and if they meet accessibility criteria levels A, AA and AAA. Based on the four (4) principles that they are; perceptive, operable, understandable and robust. At this point, accessibility Q.As aim to analyze whether a site, an application is following these above standards. At the perceptual point, we analyze the information that is perceived by people with special needs, if there is any difference between what a person perceives, and how it will be transmitted to the person in need of accessibility. The operational point is linked to how a person can operate within these technologies if they need the use of assistive technologies for information. The understandable is linked to the way the texts are being passed to the user. And the robustness is linked to how the codes are programmed and how adapted they are to using assistive technologies.

In this case, the accessibility Q.A will analyze for example if there are no clicks on the adjacent image to access the content; or click here on this image to continue; Click on the next arrow and just be an icon. If there is such information, a bug is observed in the accessibility field, because people with visual difficulties will not notice this information. Similarly contain within the page, or application parts that are not navigable by keyboard, so the subject can not operate within the page and get the information. Another point is the messages for example “click here to access” and be formatted as text and a link below. People with autism will be able to click where they are being sent and not use the link below or next door because they do not understand the meaning of the information. Another example is the text “your money flying from your pocket to your wallet”, this kind of figurative text can be detrimental to people with autism, as they bring meaning to that person who cannot understand with their cognitive limitations. For example, the autistic will believe that his money will really fly from his pocket to his wallet. Another point to consider is also how codes are written, if headers are formatted as headers; links as links; buttons as buttons; if wai-aria is used correctly to provide accessibility to the site; W3C site creation standards are used; if HTML 5 is well written without programming errors.

At this point accessibility comes with good web page and application design practices, so developers can build it as simply as possible, so they can make information accessible to someone with a disability, the elderly, foreigners etc.

Today there are many ways to work with accessibility, from single jobs to dual job formats, to help the person with any special needs in their testing. We are currently working with the dual accessibility format, providing a visually impaired person and a sighted person to assist an individual with parts of the test that may not be observed by the tester. One such example is contrast testing to see if the colors used within the application on the web page are compatible with WCAG accessibility guidelines. The seer is also responsible for parsing and passing the content of the web page or application to the user with visual limitation, so that he can test whether assistive technology software is informing him of these elements within the page. Therefore, company work is done to help test development in a more appropriate way. Seers also have an “ax” tool to analyze web pages with some HTML “code analysis automation” agility to find bugs. But the visually impaired person also has an obligation to analyze the content and the written code to see if it is adapting to the correct form of writing.

In the matter of bug opening, today there are several ways to open them. These include using the jira tool to open, move, close stories, subtests, open subbugs, and create interaction between the developer and analyst. The tool is used by people with visual difficulties, containing usability by screen readers, thus facilitating the contact between the professional and the developer, to be able to streamline the processes. There are also spreadsheet forms for creating bugs and submitting them to Devs so they can use them as support for accessibility bug fixes. When opening a bug the functionality is the same as a functional Q.A, should describe the title for that bug, create a description of how the behavior happens so that the developer can simulate and understand the bug as well.

Many times when we talk about digital accessibility, accessibility testing people think that the test is the same as the functional one, or that it tests the same way. In this thinking there is a dysfunctional belief that accessibility is thought to be in the same pattern as functional testing. However, WCAG standards do not follow a functional testing standard, but rather an analysis of how accessible a site is to people.

Like all areas digital accessibility also goes through the same automation dilemma. Today there are many accessibility Q.A who believe that there may be a form of digital automation, while in the other field the fight remains over the issue of test validation, which is different from the validations now achieved by automation. Today automation has a vision of building robots that can simulate the user experience within the sites, in order to check if the functionality of the page is correct. However, accessibility analysis does not follow the pattern of validating functionality, but if a link has a description, if a floating button is accessible to a screen reader user, analyze if the user can navigate within the page without be harmed and can get the information the other is getting. Therefore, automation in accessibility is a vast, thoughtful, questionable field because it does not fit the context in which we live about automation.

But otherwise automation has been gaining ground in the accessibility world with tools that validate HTML codes so that you can tell if a site is following the standards. An example of Google’s tools are “ligthhouse”, “ax” that will parse and validate the codes within the web page. In the mobile world there are few ways to be able to create an automation for the sake of code validation.

In other ways with the advent of the use of python within Brazil, an accessibility QA has created an automation library called “Yris” that works with code analysis, screen reader validation, experience validation and the operation of a cycle within web pages. This tool is under development, but it promises a big change in the world of digital accessibility testing, as it focuses on analyzing the user experience and not just the usability of the site. The automation library created in python, today can already provide some feedback aimed at visual and non-visual accessibility tests.

We observe that the journey through our “utopia” is getting further, because as technologies develop, they are often not thought of people with some limitation of access to them. Therefore, I believe that accessibility is an infinite walk, because when you think the world is accessible, it is when you settle for what accessibility is really in everyday life. We cannot let the world of these 45 million people in Brazil be a forgotten portrait within history, but we must become responsible subjects for this phenomenon of change.

Paraphrasing Rubem Alves with the metaphor of Søren Kierkegaard “we cannot let accessibility become the story of the dancer who believed he was flying but only jumped very high.” In the story the dancer jumped at unimaginable heights, and drew applause from the audience, but everyone laughed when he said he was flying, because he was not flying, but could only jump very high. We cannot let accessibility become this metaphor, in saying that the world is an accessible place, and others who need to laugh at what is said. On the contrary, we can’t imagine what doesn’t exist, but we have to do our best and believe that accessibility is a dynamic action that always has to be in motion, because technology is always changing, and digital accessibility must Always be walking alongside these innovations.

*Author: Giovanne Bertotti is a Test Analyst at Yaman and Clinical Psychologist at Espaço Catarse he is a Web and Mobile Accessibility Test Specialist

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