Accessibility NextGen: Reviewing Potential Issues
By Jennifer Chadwick
One of the most exciting and engaging features for your team in the new Accessibility NextGen product is the ability to review potential accessibility issues found by our checks.
This article gives an overview of the "potential issues" feature, including:
- What is a “potential issue”?
- Are Potential Issues WCAG requirements?
- Where did “Can’t Fix” and “Ignore” decisions go?
- How do I review a Potential Issue?
- Why should I review Potential Issues?
- Can anyone on my team complete a review of Potential issues?
- Can a decision on one occurrence of an issue be applied to others?
- When do I receive the points related to a Potential Issue?
- Can I edit or reverse the decision on a potential issue?
- What should I prioritize first: Potential Issues or Issues?
- More information on NextGen
What is a “potential issue”?
A potential issue is defined as an accessibility rule that requires human review. After the review, Siteimprove is able to determine if the potential issue should be considered an issue in need of fixing.
Within the new product, accessibility issues are no longer labeled as “Errors”, “Warnings” or “Review Items”. Instead, there are two types of checks: Issues and Potential Issues.
Issues are automated checks for WCAG conformance based on the ACT ruleset. An issue means the content fails to meet the relevant success criteria, either because content or code is missing or incorrect.
Potential Issues are comprised of “assisted” checks for WCAG conformance. This means that content is flagged as a potential issue, however, we need human input to complete the check regarding the success criteria.
Best Practice checks are included in Issues and Potential Issues.
Note that there are also now Resolved Issues in the platform, which displays all of the issues that have been resolved, regardless of where they originated.
Are Potential Issues WCAG requirements?
Yes, WCAG requirements are A, AA, and AAA issues and potential issues. Issues and potential issues can be WCAG requirements and best practices.
Where did “Can’t Fix” and “Ignore” decisions go?
Decisions that you have made for checks (along with your results, data, and reporting) will be archived in the previous version of the Accessibility module. You will still be able to access them. However, moving forward – decision-making will be different in NextGen.
It is no longer possible to apply the decisions of “Can’t Fix” or “ignore” to issues.
Why? Some teams were choosing to ignore issues, not because a check was a false positive or inaccurate but based on the fact the team could not act on them. This is usually due to a lack of understanding of what the check asked for or how to fix it, or more understandably, a lack of resources or time. This boosted the site’s DCI score in the short term, but overall, it left significant issues for people with disabilities unresolved, which does not help anyone.
We want instead to help teams to understand the issue and assist them in making a clear decision about their content.
- Making informed decisions through Potential Issues: In the next generation of Accessibility, being able to review potential issues – those that Siteimprove detects and flags for your investigation - provides a decision-making process that is based on a more interactive, educated and guided flow. Your team has more control, whereby you can look more closely at your own content and help our tool evaluate any issues. In essence, we want to increase the number of checks you “can fix” as opposed to “can’t fix”. We want your team to be empowered and not hindered.
- When issues are related to third-party content: For any issue that can’t be fixed by your team, due to the content being out of your control, namely the responsibility of a third-party partner - using the guided flow allows you to tell us that there is still an issue. Then, that partner can be alerted and resolve the issue. If the issue is still outstanding due to lack of budget or time, at least it remains visible in your list rather than dismissed or ignored. Hopefully, this can be the incentive to create a dialogue with that partner or vendor and motivate them to support your efforts in meeting your internal accessibility standard.
How do I review a Potential Issue?
With Potential Issues, accessibility testing is taken to the next level. We have built an assisted workflow inside the platform where users are guided through a step-by-step review process to evaluate the content of their website that could potentially be problematic from an accessibility perspective. There are potential issue reviews for HTML5 and ARIA code, text, images, and videos, etc.
From the Potential Issues page, users are asked to assist the Siteimprove robot in reviewing potential issues, to assess if they are in fact accessibility issues.
You can review Potential Issues from the Page Report in the following ways:
- Answer simple questions - For each occurrence on the page, the user is presented with a number of questions that can be answered by inspecting the element in question, either in the Page View or HTML view. In some cases, the user is asked to point to certain elements on the page to show us how the issue has been resolved.
- Additional information - Help icons containing additional information or explanation about the content are available at each step.
- User inputs to determine the issue - Through your inputs, we can then determine whether the content contains any outstanding accessibility issues, or in fact, there are no issues present or, a solution has already been applied to resolve the issue in question.
- Reuse the answers - You may also reuse your answers if you have the same occurrences on multiple questions.
Example 1: Does the video have captions?
This means that the Siteimprove crawler has detected a video on the page, however, like a robot, it cannot play the video and listen to determine whether there is an audio track that requires closed captioning.
Through the guided flow, a user can complete a review of the video and determine there is an audio track. They now answer “No” - there is no closed captioning on the video.
With this input, Siteimprove determines that “This is an issue” and moves the check from the Potential Issues listing to the Issues listing. Immediately, the platform now shows there is a new Issue, that the team can start working on getting fixed.
Example 2: Does the video contain a multimedia alternative?
In this case, the guided flow would be similar, but there would be a question that will ask whether there is a media alternative present on the page for the video. If there is a textual transcript available for the video, your team can highlight to the Siteimprove crawler where it exists – as text on the webpage, in the HTML code, or as a PDF download through a link. In this case, the review would be completed with the outcome, “This is not an issue”. The issue would be removed from Potential Issues and then listed in Resolved Issues. Done!
After any review, you can complete another review on the same Page Report or return to the Potential Issues page.
The check will now be present on the Issues page.
NextGen Accessibility Potential Issues video
Video Transcript file (.docx): Using NextGen Accessibility: Potential Issues
Why should I review Potential Issues?
Better and broader coverage of websites. With this input from users, Siteimprove is able to determine whether certain accessibility issues do in fact exist on a website – e.g. the code and/or content is present on the page - and can thereby provide users with better and broader coverage in ensuring accessible websites.
Assisted reviews and testing completed inside the platform. Your team can conduct some testing right inside the platform, where results are immediate and there is insight into the decisions for training and education purposes. Share your knowledge across teams.
More engagement and control over your own content. As a user, your input, through the steps of the guided flow, helps Siteimprove learn more about how you have coded and designed your website. Similarly, users on your team have more accountability and ownership related to their content for accessibility.
Can anyone on my team complete a review of Potential issues?
Reviewing potential issues is available to all users but might be restricted to certain user roles in the future.
The guided flow is not technical – it is designed for those team members with little to no technical knowledge, and you do not need to be an accessibility expert.
The review flow is intuitive and guides you through a series of questions that require simple interaction with the webpage such as verifying that there is audio on a video.
Can a decision on one occurrence of an issue be applied to others?
Yes, to a certain extent. Some of our potential issue checks do not have this implemented, and will only use the answer you give for that specific occurrence. In creating the checks, we have gone through the rules that generally cause the most occurrences and tried to create this matching system for occurrences with the exact code or content.
However, it’s important to highlight the word “exact” here. Being able to apply one decision on an occurrence to another occurrence is not just about the code. In order to try and determine if the answer is applicable somewhere else, this also depends on the position of the code in the DOM (Document Object Model), on the page, and everything else around it.
If users sign out and then return to the platform to review the list of Potential Issues, later on, the platform will show a message, clarifying that it’s checking other occurrences. However, if the decision has the potential to affect many pages, it will not be applied until the next crawl. In a coming release, there will be a button on the Potential Issues page that users can select to update results for a given page if they want to speed up the process.
When do I receive the points related to a Potential Issue?
Points are gained once the guided flow is completed for the Potential Issue and you determine that there is no issue with the content or code, i.e. “This is not an issue.” The Potential Issue moves to Resolved Issues and the points are gained.
The purpose of the guided flow within Potential Issues is to allow you to complete an accurate and honest manual assessment of the content and advise the crawler what is no longer an issue on the web page.
To be clear, the points are in deficit until you conduct the review and determine that “This is not an Issue”. In other words, while an issue is still marked as a Potential Issue, it is also a part of your DCI score, just the negative portion where the points are subtracted.
Can I edit or reverse the decision on a potential issue?
Yes, within the guided flow there is an option to remove the answers provided in a previous review to clear the review.
There is also the ability to see who completed a review and on what date.
What should I prioritize first: Potential Issues or Issues?
This is a decision that is entirely up to your team and what operates best within your workflow. Some teams like to tackle the list of Potential Issues first, conducting the guided step-by-step flow to identify issues that will be added to their existing Issues list before getting started. Others prefer to tackle true Issues first and leave Potential Issues as a second priority. It is up to you!
More information on NextGen