What is the difference between Alchemy and ACCESS Assistant?


In January 2016, the Alchemy product was released to the SSB user community. Alchemy allows organizations to easily remediate accessibility issues with no development effort. As part of this release, a new toolbar was released to provide an updated set of accessibility tests that were Javascript-based (versus the proprietary DCQL-based tests in AMP) and to allow end users to easily specify the details for fixing accessibility issues that were found by the tests.

The toolbar was and continues to be available to all AMP customers, whether or not they have purchased an Alchemy license. 

In mid- and late-2016, browser updates and security updates to AMP caused the AMP Toolbar for Internet Explorer and AMP Toolbar for Firefox to stop working. As a result, customers have been encouraged to switch to using the "Alchemy toolbars" for testing. It became clear that using the "Alchemy" name on the toolbar was causing confusion on the part of users, so a rebranding of the toolbar was kicked off in December 2016.

Introducing ACCESS Assistant

ACCESS Assistant is the new name of the newest versions of the toolbars available in AMP. These toolbars include the Javascript-based tests, and they are available for Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer 11. These are the currently supported toolbars, and they are undergoing updates which will culminate in ACCESS Assistant 2.0 planned for release in late Q1 2017. 

All AMP customers have free access to the ACCESS Assistant toolbars, and they can use them to test their websites and applications for accessibility compliance in context, directly within the browser. Testing data from the toolbars is saved to the customer's AMP instance, allowing all testing to be consolidated into a single set of projects and reports. 

Alchemy: What is it Anyway?

So, what is Alchemy then and what's included? Alchemy is an SSB-licensed product that allows organizations to specify remediations for some of the highest priority and most commonly-found accessibility issues through an easy-to-use user interface. The organization must place a single Alchemy script tag on every page within their website or application. When end users access any page that has this script, the script checks the organization's AMP instance for available remediations and overlays them on the page, instantly improving the accessibility of the page. 

Alchemy customers use the ACCESS Assistant toolbar to test their pages and find violations that are fixable by Alchemy. These violations can be evaluated in the toolbar, and the customer can specify the remediation details in the toolbar. For example, if the violation is missing alternative text for an image, the user would be able to type a description of the image in a text field within the toolbar. Once saved, this alternative text would be inserted in the DOM on any pages where the violation is found, as long as the Alchemy Javascript was present on that page. 

Licensing Details

All AMP customers -- whether Enterprise or Project -- have access to the ACCESS Assistant toolbars for free as part of their AMP license, and they can use the toolbars for accessibility testing. These users may see Alchemy-related fields in the toolbar, allowing specification of "fixes." However, these fields will not result in any changes to the website unless the Alchemy Javascript is present on its pages AND there is an active associated Alchemy license.

Alchemy remediations require purchase of an Alchemy license. If the customer has purchased an Alchemy license they will see the "Alchemy" section in the Toolbox tab in AMP, where they can copy the script to place on the pages of their website. These customers will, like all other AMP customers, also have access to the ACCESS Assistant toolbars for testing and remediation specification purposes. 

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