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37th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Has Concluded

Automating Keyboard Testing Using Visualizations

Date & Time
Wednesday, March 16, 2022 - 4:20 PM PST  
Orange County  

One of the major impediments of implementing accessibility for a web application or product before going to market is that there is going to be a significant amount manual testing. Manual testing is arduous, repetitive, and prone to error. Manual keyboard testing is an especially arduous task and its misunderstood by early career professionals with today’s proliferation of touch enable devices.

Keyboard accessibility is essential for users who are blind, who use alternative input devices, or use voice enabled command and control that emulates the keyboard interface. Because most UX designers are only taught about color-contrast and alt-text, keyboard operability is often not designed in, not implemented and not checked (if at all) until the project is near completion. The perceived extra effort for manually checking for good keyboard operability leaves it up to developers to attempt to “tack-it-on” at the end of the project life cycle resulting in a common lack of keyboard accessibility.

We here at IBM have been pioneering new features as part of our open source IBM Equal Access Accessibly Checker to create novel yet effective user interfaces that will make manual keyboard testing easier, more comprehensive, and less error prone. The idea of Checking keyboard navigation (tab order) is a simple one, but becomes more complex and interesting when you start working on “in the wild” web applications and realize there are many interesting corner cases and related issues. During this talk we will discuss our state of the art visualization approach to identifying errors with keyboard navigation and operability and why we made some of our design decisions.

This talk includes the results of a year–long project that included a proof of concept phase, a user research phase, and iterations on implementation. We’ll explain the results on how it makes manual keyboard testing faster for auditors, designers as well as developers. And we will demonstrate the new features in our open source checker.

This Presentation Link is provided by the Presenter(s) and not hosted by the Center on Disabilities at CSUN. The Center on Disabilities has confirmed, as of March 17, 2022, content linked is relevant to the presentation, but has not been reviewed for accessibility nor will the Center on Disabilities attempt to remediate any accessibility issues in the linked content. Please contact the Presenter(s) with any accessibility concerns.

  • Higher Education
  • Government
  • Healthcare & Rehabilitation
  • Finance & Banking
  • Retail & Wholesale
Audience Level
Session Summary (Abstract)
Manual keyboard accessibility testing is arduous, repetitive, and prone to error. IBM has pioneered a novel keyboard tab stop visualization as part of the IBM Equal Access Accessibility Checker. This work will automate manual keyboard testing - making it easier, more efficient and less error prone.  
Session Type
General Track  
  • Design
  • Development
  • Digital Accessibility
  • Evaluation & Remediation
  • Web


  • Ali Unwala
    IBM Accessibility
  • Josiah Hoskins
    IBM Accessibility
  • Phill Jenkins
    IBM Accessibility

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