Building Conformance in Accessibility Testing – Siteimprove at TPAC 2017

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By Stein Erik Skotkjerra
dic 06 2017 — Web Accessibility

The Conference

Between November 6-10, 2017, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) gathered at the Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee (TPAC), where members connected to further develop the web standards of the future.

The annual conference brings together W3C Working Groups, Interest Groups, and other guests for face-to-face meetings, technical discussions, and networking. Among the attendees are representatives from companies like Microsoft, Samsung, Adobe, and more.

Siteimprove joined the W3C in February of 2017, and our representatives have been hard at work with the Accessibility Conformance Testing Task Force (ACT TF). The goal of the ACT TF is to develop a framework of rules that promote a unified interpretation of WCAG 2.0 among different testing tools.

There are a wide variety of accessibility technologies available, each of which works differently to assist people with disabilities or other challenges using the internet. With a standard framework, this task force hopes to provide more clarity and uniformity across those tools, so automated and manual testing delivers consistent results.

What We Learned

Siteimprove’s delegation for TPAC 2017 attended for three days of meetings to advance the W3C’s work on conformance testing. As part of the ACT taskforce, Siteimprove’s accessibility professionals worked with participants with backgrounds in UX, development, testing, and more. During the conference, the group discussed how to define a format for testing accessibility conformance across automated, semi-automated, and manual testing methodologies.

They also finished sessions on AG Silver guidelines, which are the next generation of accessibility guidelines. The Siteimprove delegates gave their input on future accessibility protocols and will continue to work to ensure that they take all user needs into account, and are also easily testable.

Why It Matters

With accessibility legislation on the rise worldwide, accessibility testing tools are essential for managing web content. A consistent format for interpreting how to test for accessibility guidelines will not only increase the reliability and transparency of test results, but also help organizations avoid legal issues pertaining to the accessibility of their websites. 

Past the legal realities of inaccessibility, creating an accessible website is simply the right thing to do. Just as wheelchair ramps, braille, and curb ramps have become the norm in public buildings, an accessible internet is the next step. One in five people live with a disability that affects their ability to use the internet, and as more of our daily activities transfer to a digital format, it becomes more important to provide the same experience for all users.

What’s Next

The European Commission recently selected Siteimprove to work alongside a key industry players and national authorities to develop technology to improve the consistency and accuracy of accessibility testing. Learn more about the WAI-Tools project and what it means for the future of digital accessibility.


Stein Erik Skotkjerra is Siteimprove's Lead Accessibility Strategist, and the organization’s strategic advisor in all questions related to strategy and quality of web accessibility. With more than 15 years of experience working with digital accessibility and assistive technologies, Stein Erik leads and participates in work ranging from technical evaluations and implementations of test rules to user involvement.

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