ARC — a new weapon against accessibility bugs

Why do we need accessibility testing?

Accessibility testing as part of usability testing helps adjust our app to the needs of as many groups of people as possible. For example, it helps us make sure that users with special conditions like vision impairments, hearing disabilities, color blindness, and others can interact with the software smoothly.

The ARC Platform traits

In this article, I decided to share my experience of using ARC, a solution for accessibility testing that I find pretty handy and affordable (it even has a free extension). I’ll lead you through the setup of the platform because the process itself turned out to be tricky for a person new to ARC. Also, we’ll take a look at the report and specify the areas that we don’t want to miss. Finally, I’ll briefly cover the Toolkit and how this extension can contribute to your QA pipeline.

How it works

ARC crawls your website and scans pages while making the accessibility analysis. A nice thing about it is that you can run the check on two engines: the default ARC engine or AXE (in the latter case, you use ARC as a service for check and still stick to your trusted AXE testing platform). You can switch between both anytime.

Getting the installation done

First, you need to create an account on the ARC portal.

What to look for in the ARC report

After ARC completes its scanning, you get a relatively precise report on the failures and weak sides of the page. Also, you’ll see step-by-step guidance on how to fix the accessibility issues. In this part, I’ll outline the most important categories in the report that you should check in the first place.

The ARC Toolkit — extension for a quick check

Another tool from the ARC family that I found useful is the ARC Toolkit. You simply install it as a Chrome browser extension and evaluate any page you browse through. If the page you want to check is not live yet, you can run the check on your localhost build. A special thing about the tool is that you can check particular sections of the screen instead of getting a whole page evaluation.

Installing and applying the Toolkit

1. Install the extension from the Chrome webstore.

Scan sections, not pages

As I said earlier, unlike the on-site version, the extension can scan sections you need and not full pages. Here are the steps for running this check:

How do the Toolkit and platform versions differ?

First of all, the Toolkit is free, and that’s a great advantage. You can start getting to know ARC using the Toolkit, and if it suits you — proceed with the paid version.

  1. Using the Toolkit extension, you can not change the engine (it’s ARC only) and a WCAG version (the 2.1 version is the only one available).
  2. You can not automate testing using the extension.

Pros and cons of ARC for accessibility testing

Here are the key things I like about using ARC:

  1. You get informative reports and suggestions for fixing issues.
  2. You can switch between different engines and WCAG versions for a more precise check.
  3. You can integrate the ARC check into your automated testing pipeline.
  1. It does not allow for screen reader testing.
  1. It can’t check keyboard focus, keyboard navigation, etc.

Prices

ARC Toolkit is completely free! As for the site version of ARC — they have 3 plans.

Let’s make accessibility the new norm!

ARC platform and its tools for accessibility testing may not be a magic pill that will cover all the aspects in terms of accessibility on your website. But, in my opinion, this solution works and helps you move towards greater usability with simple and clear steps.

Useful links

- WCAG accessibility standards

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Valor Software

Valor Software

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Useful articles from experienced Valor specialists in various spheres of digital development.