Reports and targets are two critical components of any accessibility program. Reports provide essential data on accessibility progress, while targets represent goals and checkpoints along the way. Reports and targets benefit company leadership because they present measurable information to enforce accessibility compliance policies.
Editor's Note: This blog recaps UsableNet's webinar, "Accessibility Reports & Setting Targets for your Program." This blog and the webinar cover reports and targets, what they are, how to develop them, and what makes them useful for a company's accessibility initiatives.
Key data sources to use in your accessibility report
Reports are designed to communicate accessibility remediation progress and results. You can collect the data for your reports in a few different ways, such as manual testing, automated testing, or from a company's learning management system.
In manual accessibility testing, humans test digital material using various assistive technologies such as screen readers. Detected defects should be organized and presented in order of severity, with the most impactful problems prioritized during the remediation process. Manual testing is vital because it can help expose some of the issues real-world users experience on a given website or app. However, manual tests have their shortcomings. For example, specific characteristics of what qualifies a problem as a defect may vary from tester to tester.
Accessibility report data can also be collected using automated accessibility scans. Automated scans test a website's code for flaws that may equate to end-user accessibility issues. Since these tests cannot replicate real-world use cases, they often miss major accessibility bugs that a manual tester can discover. Therefore, remediating only the code defects returned by an automated scan can lead to a persistently inaccessible final product.
Data for your accessibility report can also come from a company's learning management system. Teams that have completed their accessibility training are better poised to deliver satisfactory results. You can use a report's procedures and data sources in a remediation validation check. You'll perform these checks to ensure that your remediation activities yield meaningful results.
How (and why) to set accessibility targets
Accessibility targets provide measurable desired outcomes associated with specific data presented in a report. For example, if the automated test section of a report returns a large number of severe accessibility bugs, a potential target for this finding may be to have this number trend down by the following report.
Many companies use accessibility scores to help develop attainable targets. Your accessibility scores represent compliance levels for an area of accessibility. Accessibility scores are helpful when used to identify trends over multiple release cycles.
Acceptance criteria are helpful when setting targets. Acceptance criteria help teams stay on goal by providing specific concrete definitions of what qualifies a given attribute as accessible or inaccessible. Consider always using acceptance criteria during accessibility testing. Groups not using these criteria will often skip or ineffectively perform accessibility tests. Proper acceptance criteria use represents a team's commitment to accessibility.
When setting targets, consider defects based on specific attributes. For example, leadership wants to see high-severity flaws prioritized and dramatically reduced during remediation. Categorizing defects is helpful when accessibility issues are present. The age of specific defects is also vital. For example, suppose major accessibility flaws have existed for several release cycles. In that case, it may indicate prioritization and execution shortcomings in a company's accessibility work.
Reports and targets help leadership enforce action.
Accessibility teams within a company must periodically provide leadership with meaningful progress reports. These reports include various elements. First is the multi-release cycle accessibility score trend that can help show if you are meeting your targets. Also included is data on risks associated with specific accessibility problems. The report should include information on remediated issues and net new defects and a set of recent attainable target scores for the next quarter or report cycle.
Policies can’t be enforced by leadership without measurable targets. When building your accessibility program, you'll want to give leadership regular reports, to communicate the results of your efforts and help them enforce action.
Interested in learning more? Watch the webinar, "Accessibility Reports & Setting Targets for your Program," on-demand now.