mabl today made available in beta an automated accessibility testing capability that it added to its software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for testing applications.
Dan Belcher, mabl co-founder, said given the increased accessibility requirements included in various compliance mandates, there is a greater need to address these issues as early as possible in the application development life cycle. Otherwise, organizations could find they are liable for failing to comply with accessibility requirements outlined in, for example, versions 2.0 and 2.1 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
At the same time, providers of applications that don’t address accessibility are also likely to find themselves called out on public social media forums, noted Belcher. The damage to brand reputation can be considerable, he added.
The SaaS platform mabl created makes it possible to create reusable tests using a low-code engine dubbed ax-core. Those tests can then be inserted, as appropriate, into a DevOps workflow. That approach allows a dedicated testing team to create tests in a way that doesn’t need to occur on a DevOps platform, said Belcher.
Regardless of regulatory requirements, Belcher said there is a clear need to include end users with disabilities within a digital universe that continues to rapidly expand. Unfortunately, as a whole, the software industry is only just starting to make accessibility a first-class concern, he added.
The goal should be to enable fast feedback via accessibility regression tests that address, for example, contrast check, said Belcher. However, it’s not likely those tests are going to eliminate the need for periodic audits by accessibility subject matter experts as an application continues to evolve, he noted. Those reviews would address everything from the user interface to the overall performance impact, noted Belcher. It may possible, however, to one day address 50% of the accessibility issues identified in the WCAG guidelines via automation, he noted. Scanning code as it is being developed will prevent a backlog and a buildup of accessibility debt that would be much more costly to address after an application is, added Belcher.
In general, Belcher said, it’s not likely automation is ever going to entirely eliminate the need for dedicated testing teams. Testing platforms such as mabl are designed to enable a finite testing resource to keep pace with an accelerated rate of application development, he added.
Accessibility is, for all intents and purposes, a subset of any comprehensive software quality review. The sooner development teams realize that fact the less likely they will find themselves apologizing in the future for not coming to that realization earlier.