March 27, 2015 CSUN 2015 Participation Report

Takeshi Kurosawa
Accessibility Engineer

From March 3 to March 6, I participated in 30th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (CSUN 2015), the world's largest international conference on accessibility, held in San Diego.

This year, I gave a presentation entitled Accessible Graphics for High Pixel Density Era. To view the presentation, please see this blog entry (please note that while the blog entry is in Japanese, the embedded presentation is in English).

In addition to presenting, I also had the opportunity to attend a number of other sessions.

From the sessions that I attended, I felt that there were two key themes. The first was the increasing importance of frameworks (such as Angular.js) in web development. The other was a movement toward the addressing of accessibility issues at an organizational level.  With regard to frameworks, I have written a blog post entitled "CSUN 2015 Lecture Session Introduction 3 - Choosing An Accessible UI Framework" where I provide a brief overview of the topic (please note, this post is written in Japanese).

In this column, I'll focus on dealing with accessibility at an organizational level.

Addressing Accessibility at an Organizational Level

In previous years at CSUN, there have been a great number of sessions detailing how large businesses and organizations have dealt with web accessibility. In this year`s sessions, I felt that there was more content on the notion that accessibility experts alone should not be responsible for ensuring accessible websites. When one considers accessibility, the image that comes to mind is one of post-website development verification and testing. However, the performance of post-process verification can reveal large issues in need of reworking. Under such circumstances, and even with accessibility experts, it may not possible to provide adequate support because the rework may be too large and time too little. In order to avoid this situation, it is important to address accessibility at the time of development. At CSUN 2015, two approaches for resolving these issues were greatly discussed.

Involving Many People in Accessibility

The first approach was to involve more people. For example, it was announced that the BBC introduced a system where accessibility advisors, known as accessibility champions, are assigned within each team, and the actual accessibility specialists perform a consultant-type role. With regard to their current 4,000 developers, there are 51 advisors at present. By advancing accessibility initiatives within each team during development phases, the number of rework requests can be reduced, furthermore the accessibility specialists also act as coordinators to share the successes of one team with other teams facing similar issues. If the size of the organization is large, specialists are often thought as distant from the place of work, however in this effort by the BBC there was much understanding from the implementation teams.

In addition, CSUN 2015 also witnessed the introduction of accessibility training programs oriented toward companies and organizations. Deque Systems, the developer of the WorldSpace evaluation tool that we offer, discussed their enterprise-oriented web accessibility induction and training program named Deque University. I believe that in the future accessibility specialists will be increasingly sought to support organizations and projects address accessibility issues in their entirety. Here, at Mitsue-Links, we also offer our clients web accessibility training.

Commitment to the Development Stages for Post-process Efficiency

The other trend was that by devoting more time to the development process, the verification of post-development content could be streamlined.  In the Deque session, it was announced that part of the post-development validation is assigned to QA engineers, while accessibility experts focus on planning and design stage issues. When assessing sites QA engineers refer to a straightforward check sheet consisting of commonly occurring accessibility issues (the check sheet itself was not made public), when QA engineers discover any issues they enter the details on sheet thus improving check efficiency.

In addition, from a technical perspective, automated testing using Tenon.io as well as Google's Accessibility Developer Tools (ADT) was introduced. There are already both Tenon.io and ADT plug-ins for the Protractor end-to-end (E2E) test framework, so when performing a test check these out.

Final Thoughts

In relation to the present scenario where accessibility is being tackled at an organizational level, I aim to be an accessibility engineer that is both close and approachable to those that require support.

For more information on our services, timeframes and estimates, as well as examples of our work, please feel free to be in touch.