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axe-con 2024: Day Three (Riley)

Team Insights

Disability Inclusion Beyond Accessibility Standards

Speaker: Giselle Mota

Giselle spoke to the importance of designing with accessibility in mind and shared a few real-world examples including a GenAI tool that created different versions of a yearbook photo. When this woman used the tool, the result didn't include her wheelchair because the data that this tool was built on lacked representation.

She also talked about an example with a company that updated their phone cameras so that people of color showed up correctly in an image. When cameras were first created they were set up for photographing a person who was white. Some of this same technology for calculating the levels and lighting is still used today, but this company made the update that designed with all people in mind and not only improved their cameras for people of color but for everyone.

Representation: Ask people with disabilities to be a part of the conversation.

Responsibility: Does your data being used for training sets include people with disabilities? 

Accountability: Are there champions of disability in your organizations and departments?

Creativity: Reimagining tried and true systems and processes using new and evolving technologies.

Cypress Component Testing for Accessibility: Taking Axe to the Root

Speaker: Miloš Jovanović

I was a bit nervous about this session because I'm not familiar with Cypress, but I know other RDG members have been using this recently for testing. Thankfully Miloš included some basic definitions for the various tools he would be going through. This helped me get a better understanding of what he was talking about.

  • axe Developer Hub: subscription-based platform that generates, displays and manages accessibility test reports
  • axe Watcher: forwards data needed for accessibility reports
  • Cypress Component Testing: method of testing isolated elements rendered in a browser
  • cypress-axe: plugin for Cypress that integrates axe-core with the test runner for accessibility testing

He went through the steps to set up and install Cypress component testing, cypress-axe, and an alternative method using axe Watcher. Using axe Watcher is a more plug-and-play method to create quick accessibility reports, but there are still some limitations with it.

I thought it was interesting that you can call the checkA11y command at the point where you want to trigger the accessibility test. This can point out accessibility issues that happen after interacting with the page that are created by user actions.

Overall this looked pretty promising in identifying accessibility issues before releasing a new feature, and gets developers thinking about accessibility while they are building out a website. He did explain that this was not meant to be a replacement for accessibility testing and audits, but should go along with other methods of testing.

The Next Generation of Automated Testing for Mobile Apps

Speaker: Megan Pletzer

This session was mainly about the improvements made to axe DevTools Mobile and the capabilities for testing iOS and Android mobile apps. Some of the main aspects she went over were:

  • Support for cross-platform apps like React Native, Native iOS and Android Apps
  • Accessibility testing without code to embed
  • Accessibility testing as close to the end user experience as possible. Using computer vision to improve result accuracy

This was interesting but seemed like a lot of setup for the automated testing. I liked being able to see the demo on an iOS and Android device, but it was a lot to fit into a short time. From what I could see it looked like the results were structured in a way that broke down the issues found into major and minor issues and then linked to the WCAG guideline and included examples for how to fix it.

Megan also mentioned an axe plugin for Figma that I'd be interested in testing out. It looks at designs for target size, color contrast and other accessibility issues before the development phase.

Digital Wildfire – Burnout and Bias

Speaker: Soren Hamby

People with less apparent disabilities like low vision, cognitive disabilities, or chronic health conditions often face a stigma in the workplace where they are seen as less capable when they disclose their disabilities. Soren went over the pay gap that exists between people with and without disabilities and how we saw it decrease as more people were working from home during the pandemic. With the initiative to move back into the office we will see this gap increase in the coming years.

Agriculture, financial activities/insurance, information publishing, public sector, business services, and education were the top industries with the highest amount of burnout reported among workers. This is often due to a lack of support, insufficient resources and unclear job expectations. 

Mitigate personal bias. Follow people on social media that have different experiences in the disability community and listen to their stories. Don't look at people as a source of inspiration because of their disability.

Demonstrate personal action. Consider the needs of others, demonstrate that you are a safe person and work to remove program bias and ableism from your speech.

Digital Accessibility and Knowing When to Flex

Speaker: Laila Coulton

Root causes to challenges her team faces when trying to drive accessibility forward in their organization.

  • Skills: Accessibility isn't embedded into design and development curriculums as a standard
  • Incentives: Leadership aren't incentivized to make products accessible
  • Systems: Most organizations are not yet design or customer led

A lot of what Laila talked about was the idea of starting small and she explained the idea of balancing a carrot vs. the stick. The carrot is a more human first approach that shares user stories, customer feedback and celebrating wins. The stick is legal action, risk management and blocking releases of new features.

Her talk really made me think about how beneficial it would be to teach about accessibility and assistive technologies in school. As someone who has recently gotten into the accessibility community I think this would have really impacted the way I problem solve and think about design challenges.

Helping Debunk Disability Stigma

Speakers: Shane and Hannah Burcaw

Shane and Hannah shared their personal story in navigating as an interabled couple. They create content for YouTube and are advocates for disability rights. Shane has spinal muscular atrophy which has made him a wheelchair user for his entire life.

They explained how they met and instances where they experienced social ableism and inaccessibility. The first example they shared was at a diner when a woman approached them and began praying over Shane. He explained that he had a happy life even though the woman made the assumption that he needed to be cured or that it was a tragedy. 

They went on to share other examples, which happen practically every time they leave the house, where people made false assumptions about disabilities. When they started talking about their experience flying with a wheelchair it made me really concerned because of everything that has been in the news with people's wheelchairs being damaged or even lost by airlines. 

In a couple instances they shared their experiences of inaccessibility on YouTube which got a lot of attention and were able to get organizations to make changes to fix these issues. It was really eye opening to hear their story and to see how they handled it with humor even in situations where people reacted in a hurtful way.