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Introduction to Access Alchemy

Overview

Access Alchemy allows users to immediately overlay fixes for some of the highest priority and most commonly-found accessibility issues right from the browser with a friendly UI. This saves organizations critical time by allowing users to define fixes from the browser without touching the source code. Access Alchemy can also immediately apply the same fix to a large number of identical issues across the entire site (to any page with the tag). Typically, a developer must review a report of accessibility violations and then manually make corrections to the source code of the website or application to solve each individual issue. 

To use Access Alchemy, the organization must first place the access.JS script in every page within their website or application (commonly done using a tag manager). Access Alchemy customers can then use the Access Assistant toolbar to test their pages and find violations that can be fixed. This presents the user with a list of all fixable elements identified via testing within the asset. These violations can be evaluated within the toolbar, where the customer can then define the specific fixes.

When end users access any page that has this script, the script will check the Access Alchemy database for available remediations and overlays them on the page, instantly improving accessibility. Access Alchemy creates no perceivable changes to page functionality, appearance, or load time.

Fingerprints And Resolution Replay

All elements that can be fixed with Access Alchemy are "fingerprinted," which essentially means their unique characteristics at the code-level are identified and saved so that the same element can be recognized when encountered on multiple pages within a site or application.

For each fingerprint, all available fixes are presented to the user for evaluation and definition. For example, a menu button (like 'Home Page') may be present on multiple pages within a site, and have multiple accessibility issues with available Access Alchemy fixes. When evaluating this element in the Access Alchemy Fixes area, the user will be able to define the Access Alchemy fixes for all of the issues in one place. This element will not need to be evaluated on every page it appears on within the site. Rather Access Alchemy will recognize the fingerprinted element and apply any fixes that were defined for it. This feature that allows a defined fix to be re-used across any page on which it appears is called Resolution Replay. Learn more about the Fingerprints feature in this video.

Common Applications

Access Alchemy can define remediations for a number of common and high-priority issues which have a great impact on a system's accessibility and end user experience. Two of the most common fixes we see with Access Alchemy are:

  • Adding/Changing Alternative Text: Alternative text can be critical to the experience of many end users, but this is a task that can be a very time-consuming without Access Alchemy. Additionally, non-developers in some cases are better positioned to provide meaningful alternative text, as they may be more familiar with the content. Access Alchemy allows any web-savvy user to define proper alternative text, which could free up developers to focus their work on more technically complex areas.
  • Explicit Labels for Form Fields:This is another valuable fix since forms can play a critical role in an end user's experience. This capability will allow users to ensure key user transactions and workflows (such as purchasing items, registering as new users, etc.) are made more accessible right away. 

A complete list of accessibility issues that can be fixed by Access Alchemy is available at this page. Some examples of issues that cannot be addressed by Access Alchemy would be:

  • Sufficient contrast for images/text
  • Ensure color is not sole means of communication

Example Workflow

In example, if an image is missing alternative text (a best practice violation), the Access Alchemy user would be able to type a helpful description of the image in a text field directly within the toolbar. Once saved, this alternative text would be inserted in the DOM on any pages where the exact violation is found, as long as the script is present on the page. This would be especially helpful if the exact image is meaningful to the end user experience and used repeatedly across the site.

Here are the steps:

  1. Testing: The site first needs to be tested—fixes can only be defined for violations we know of.
    1. A user opens the asset with Access Assistant to capture modules and run automatic tests
    2. View module violations: Users can filter by fixable and non-fixable violations, and by whether a fix has been defined already
    3. View the defined Alchemy fixes for each violation that has an available fix
  2. Defining Fixes: In Access Assistant a user reviews all of the fingerprints that have been identified by testing the site
    1. User completes the forms in the toolbar to easily define fixes for each issue (i.e., enters the appropriate form labels or alt text)
    2. All violations for the asset are pulled together into one screen so you can do all the fixing in one place
  3. Maintenance: Sites are updated regularly—much like accessibility testing in general, fixing isn’t a "one and done" scenario.
    1. Whenever the site is tested, check fingerprints for new fixable issues
    2. Define fixes for newly-found fingerprints whenever regular audits or regression/validation testing is done

More on Access Alchemy:

 

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