Accessibility Decisions FAQ
By Sean Needham
This article describes decisions relating to accessibility within the Siteimprove platform.
The following topics are covered:
- What are decisions and when can I use them?
- What type of decisions can I take?
- Why can I not "Approve" automatically detected failures?
- Page and site-wide decisions.
- What impact does a decision have on my Accessibility Score?
What are decisions and when can I use them?
Decisions allow users to manage issues found by Siteimprove that they are not going to address at the time, i.e. issues you cannot fix or do not currently need to fix.
This will typically be for one of the following reasons:
- The user has verified that the issue is not a critical issue in this case. (e.g. the information that you are trying to communicate to the user is accessible regardless of the issue being flagged.)
- The user has made a conscious decision not to fix the issue.
What type of decisions can I take?
You can take two different types of decisions in Accessibility: “Can’t Fix”, or “Approve”.
You can only Approve issues flagged as part of semi-automated or manual checks. These are categorized as "Reviews" and do not contribute to your Accessibility score.*
All remaining fully automated checks in both the "Error" and "Warning" categories do contribute to your Accessibility score have only one option, “Can’t Fix”. Meaning that you can choose not to address the issue we are flagging. Users have the option to add a note to the decision detailing their reason for making it.
Why can I not "Approve" automatically detected Issues?
"Error" and "Warning" issue categories contain only fully automated checks. The "Approve" decision was introduced to allow users to verify potential failures, categorized as "Reviews", as non-failures. and not to mark automatically detected failures as false positives.*
When the decision system was developed it was built on the logic that an automatically detected issue represents an accessibility barrier and not a potential barrier. In other words, there was no room for interpretation, or put differently, if its automatically detected then it’s a failure that you can either fix or ignore.
*Note: We are in the process or redesigning our decisions system to offer users more autonomy and flexibility when making decisions on all issues. This is part of a wider revamp of our accessibility checking engine.
What is the difference between an Issue and an Occurrence?
There are two ways to refer to an Issue:
- The "Issue" refers directly to one of the overarching Accessibility checks, e.g. “Input field has no description”.
- The "Occurrences" is a particular instance where that issue occurs, e.g. the actual input field that fails the check.
A page may have multiple Occurrences of a single issue representing multiple failures of a single check.
All decisions, no matter the level, are applied to all occurrences. Currently, it is not possible to apply decisions to individual occurrences. However, this will be possible in a future release of Accessibility. For more information on this see "Learn more about Accessibility NextGen".
Where can I make page and site-wide decisions
All issues support the site-wide decision "Can’t Fix".
This decision can be made at: Accessibility > Issues > Select the Issue > Options.
It removes the Issue from the issues list and means Siteimprove will no longer flag any future failures of that issue unless that decision has been undone.
Figure 1 - Issues > Specific issue under 1.3.1 Info and Relationships
Page level decisions
All Issues also support the page-level decision "Can’t Fix".
This decision can be made on the list of pages with issues in the platform or on the Accessibility Page report.
Users can choose page-level decision to stop an issue being flagged on a single or multiple pages.
To mark an issue as "Can't Fix" via the list of pages with issues go to: Accessibility > Issues > Select the Issue > Select the pages using the checkbox on the left > Click 'Can’t Fix' button.
Figure 2 - Applying a Can't Fix decision across multiple pages.
To mark an issue as "Can't Fix" via the Accessibility Page report go to: Accessibility > Issues > Select the Issue > Click on the page title to open the page report > Decision options > 'Can’t Fix' > Apply decision.
Figure 3 - Taking a decision on a single page.
The following tables provide a breakdown of the different types of decision: ("Approve" and "Can’t Fix") that can be taken on a single page, selection of pages or site-wide basis.
|Decision||Single page||Selection of pages||Site-wide|
|Approve||Not Supported||Not Supported||Not Supported|
Occurrences of Issues
|Decision||Single page||Selection of pages||Site-wide|
|Can’t Fix||Only for issues categorized as Reviews||Only for Image issues categorized as Reviews||Only for Image issues categorized as Reviews|
|Approve||Only for issues categorized as Reviews||Only for Image issues categorized as Reviews||Only for Image issues categorized as Reviews|
What impact does a decision have on the Accessibility Score?
Issues categorized as "Errors" and "Warnings" are included in the Accessibility Score. Issues categorized as "Reviews" are not.
Each issue has a fixed total amount of points assigned to it regardless of how many occurrences there are of that issue or how many pages that issue affects. For further information on this see this "Accessibility Score clarification" article.
You can gain points when your decision completely clears a particular issue from your site, i.e:
- A site-wide "Can’t Fix" decision for an issue.
- A single/multiple page "Can’t Fix" decision on the all remaining pages that have that issue.
You will not gain points for "Can’t Fix" decisions on single or multiple pages if the same issue remains on any pages your website pages.