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Defining an Accessibility Testing Strategy for MATLAB Online

Date & Time
Friday, March 18, 2022 - 3:20 PM PST  
Grand ABCD  
MATLAB® is a technical computing environment which is widely used in both academia and industry. As web technology have matured and broadband network speeds have become more widely available over the past decade, MATLAB has been ported as a single-page web application known as MATLAB® Online™. To better serve the engineering and scientific community, MathWorks is in the process of implementing a subset of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) — in particular, those related to adding keyboard navigation and screen reader support features within the MATLAB Online environment to improve the web application’s accessibility. Achieving these goals requires the design of consistent and reliable testing strategies within the organization so that new features can be developed while preventing regressions in accessibility. MATLAB Online is developed by a large Development organization of distributed teams. As such, we needed a scalable testing strategy to replace the mostly manual testing we had been doing, and so automated testing solutions were prioritized. We started with a thorough analysis of the WCAG standards applicable to keyboard and screen reader users, mapping each guideline into a level of the test pyramid (unit, integration, or manual tests). We also determined the amount of testing needed for each guideline at the individual widget, composite widget, and application level. This categorization gave us a framework to evaluate automation solutions. We chose to integrate a 3rd party static analysis tool to save time and resources needed to maintain a test tool as the WCAG standards change over time. We evaluated several existing accessibility testing tools against a set of criteria including comprehensiveness of WCAG coverage, ability to integrate with industry testing tools and our continuous integration system, and support for platforms and browsers needed for MATLAB Online. As a result of the analysis, we selected the axe® toolkit, which allowed us the flexibility to lock down current levels of accessibility support in each component and will enable us to add automation over time as MATLAB Online supports additional WCAG guidelines. While axe testing covers many of the WCAG guidelines that are applicable to screen reader users, we were able to use standard unit and integration testing frameworks to automate testing for keyboard navigation and other keyboard accessibility requirements. As a result of these efforts, formalized testing plans for each standardized UI component to be tested at the individual, composite, and app level have been integrated into the organization’s testing procedures. Development teams that have implemented these strategies have automated accessibility tests running at all levels in our continuous integration system. In order to meet internal goals for implementation of the test strategy across Development teams, we integrated accessibility testing data into our existing test documentation system to create an accessibility testing traceability report dashboard. Through reporting on automated testing coverage for WCAG guidelines by component, the dashboard allows the Accessibility Program team high-level visibility into the progress of each UI component’s and feature’s accessibility compliance.  
  • Higher Education
  • Information & Communications Technology
  • Research & Development
Audience Level
Session Summary (Abstract)
Transforming desktop applications into accessible web applications requires the development of new testing strategies that leverage available accessibility testing tools. This talk shares testing strategies that MathWorks has developed that include integrated automated accessibility tests in a continuous integration system to enable new feature development while preventing regressions in accessibility.  
Session Type
General Track  
  • Blind/Low Vision
  • Development
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Web


  • Tristan Yang
    The MathWorks, Inc

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