To ensure your service is accessible and inclusive, consider accessibility at every stage. That means including diverse users that include people with disabilities at all phases of your design and development cycle.

Plan to engage Accessibility Services throughout each phase. You can also ask for longer-term help with monitoring progress and creating a sustainable accessibility model.

Test your code regularly to uncover issues with development, design and content. At CDS we have built in automated testing as part of our continuous integration (CI) process. You must conduct both automated and manual testing - you'll miss a lot of the issues if you only do automated testing. Currently, automated testing only covers 40% of the accessibility-related issues.

The following sections provide details to focus your accessibility work in each phase of development:

  • Discovery
  • Alpha
  • Beta
  • Live

In Discovery

At the beginning of your project, ask yourself, "How would this product work if I couldn't see it? What if I couldn't touch it, or move it? What if I couldn't hear it, taste it, smell it?" This will help you think about people's pain points and different usage contexts, lending some guidance toward the design of your service.

Conversations with people with disabilities can spark unexpected feedback. Doing design research with people with disabilities helps define the problem space and informs your understanding of user needs. Talking to people with diverse needs improves the human experience of digital services.

Engage Accessibility Services in the discovery phase for help engaging people with diverse user needs. Include users with different abilities in user research. Consider potential visual, hearing, motor, and cognitive disabilities. Remember that including people disabilities also helps people who experience temporary or situational disabilities, like having an injured limb, being in public without earphones or holding a baby.

Incorporate accessibility considerations in your research artifacts (for example, personas or user stories).

  1. Recognize bias
  2. Do design research
  3. Follow ethical practices
  4. Actively listen
  5. Test with people
  6. Consider diverse needs
  7. Build inclusive personas
  8. Conduct cognitive tasks
  9. Offer different ways to engage

In Alpha

In Alpha, ensure your service meets the standards of our Priority Check 1 checklist.

Priority check 1: critical (WCAG 2.1 A, AA)

Check that your service includes all the following:

Enabling adaptive technology

In Alpha, you will also need to ensure your service works with the most common adaptive technologies:

  • test with adaptive technology yourself (you can ask the accessibility community of practice lead or contact the Accessibility, Accommodation and Adaptive Computer Technology (AAACT) program at Shared Services Canada (SSC) to learn about adaptive technology)
  • reach out to the design research community lead to help find user research participants who use adaptive technology
  • ask for adaptive technology testing to be included in your accessibility audit.

Examples of tools you can use include:

  • Voice Over
  • NVDA
  • Zoom Text
  • High Contrast (OS and dark modes)

In Beta

You must get an accessibility audit - and fix any issues - before your service moves into public beta.

As well, ensure your Beta service meets the standards of our Priority Check 2 list.

Priority check 2: less critical, but essential (WCAG 2.1, A, AA)

Live - keeping your work accessible

As you prepare to make your service live, and after launch, strive to ensure your service meets the standards of our Priority Check 3 list.

Priority check 3: Ideal (WCAG 2.1 AAA)