Ensuring web services are available to all users

It is not only important, but also highly beneficial, for our customers to achieve web accessibility on any public-facing web application

At Sopra Steria, digital inclusion is a key element of our sustainability ethos and we understand the importance of ensuring that web services are accessible to all users because:

  • Compliance to standards is mandatory by law as per Equality Act 2010
  • It widens the reach: tapping into a user group which is over 10% of UK population
  • An ethical, inclusive approach reflects well for corporate social responsibility (CSR)
  • Some hidden benefits include better rating in search engine results, reduced web maintenance costs, better usability, etc.

Accessibility Design and Development Services

Sopra Steria’s design and development services manage accessibility risks throughout the project lifecycle, ensuring the focus on the user experience is not lost. Our approach is based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), for three levels of conformance (A, AA or AAA), which is in line with the Equality Act 2010. We recognise the importance of including accessibility considerations at an early stage, and hence we ensure that the relevant checks are included right from the project inception, all through the implementation

Key highlights of these services are:

  • Design: ‘Designing for everyone’ – accessibility considerations and standards followed during design process (including user research), wireframe / interactive prototype level checks
  • Development: Intensive coding standards and checklists which are ensured through automated code validators and manual code reviews
  • Testing: Using a combination of manual, automated and disabled user testing.
  • Testing: Using assistive technologies and various adjustments to simulate the end user experience. Also testing over a range of devices, using latest tools and techniques.

Accessibility Audit and Testing services

Website Auditing

Our approach to accessibility auditing will help to achieve compliance to legally mandatory requirements without compromising the end users’ practical experience. From a testing perspective, we achieve this through an approach of combining automated, manual (using assistive technologies) and user testing. Essentially, we verify whether the experience for assistive technology users is satisfactory and make sure that their feedback is included in the delivery process. The scope of our checks includes the following:

  • Conformance to internationally recognised standards for accessibility (WCAG 2.0), to the agreed target level of the three levels of compliance A, AA or AAA, based on the requirement
  • Practical accessibility for assistive technology using the general spectrum of disabilities as the scope including visual, auditory, motor and cognitive impairments
  • Accessing the website through the most popular browsers and devices, along with any system adjustments or assistive technologies
  • Other relevant GDS guidelines

Our expert testers with specialist knowledge on accessibility carry out a methodical audit through the following measures:

  • Formulating a detailed accessibility test approach (based on requirements including the relevant GDS standards)
  • Identification of best suited tools and techniques for the requirements
  • Executing rigorous, structured tests driven by checklists based on WCAG guidelines
  • Recording detailed observations and reporting to suit the stakeholder groups (technical level as well as a management summary), against the defined target level of compliance
  • Providing specific, actionable recommendations about improving the accessibility

Accessibility testing

Our approach to accessibility aims to achieve compliance to legally mandatory requirements without compromising the end users practical experience. We achieve this through an approach of combining automated, manual (using assistive technologies) and user testing in conjunction with established test processes. This includes:

  • Formulating accessibility test approach to cover WCAG guidelines, assistive technologies (to cover the full spectrum of disabilities including visual, auditory, motor and cognitive disabilities), range of devices and browsers
  • Identification of best suited tools and techniques for the project requirements
  • Management of test environment and aiding the procurement of optimal products
  • Rigorous, well defined testing measures to ensure user satisfaction
  • Involving disabled people in the testing process to aid improvement

Compatibility to assistive technologies

Sopra Steria has a proven experience in ensuring implementations to ensure compatibility with most widely used assistive technologies, as part of building accessible applications. We have experience of working with clients to compile Equality Impact Statements ensuring that the assistive technology community needs are met. The principles from WCAG 2.0 are followed as the standard for these implementations. As part of the accessibility testing, various assistive technologies are used hence ensuring that the corresponding observations are fed into the development process throughout the project life cycle. Some of the parameters we consider in choosing the right testing tools include:

  • Assistive technologies based on end user profile (screen reader software like JAWS, magnifying software like ZoomText etc.)
  • Range of devices (mobile/hand held and desktop)
  • Simulators where required (colour blindness)
  • In built features of various operating systems and browsers

User testing

By involving people with disabilities to cover a wide range of user profiles, we ensure receipt of accurate feedback from the user testing exercise. Our expert team will lead and support the user testing through:

  • Establishing the end user profile
  • Sourcing the users according to the requirements through our network with different charities
  • Managing the user testing in terms of facilities and infrastructure
  • Supporting the execution of the exercise
  • Collecting the feedback from the users
    • Reporting the inputs from the users accurately

Other accessibility services

We understand the importance of future-proofing when it comes to maintenance of accessibility levels, to meet the legal standards. The following set of measures are taken to ensure 'continued inclusivity':

  • Ensuring effective change management for accessibility, i.e., consultancy and services around on-going maintenance of accessibility standards as part of any project changes. This includes identification of the right standards and guidelines to follow, providing the knowledge on tools and techniques to perform the necessary tests and any inputs around choice of components / impact of specific technologies on accessibility.
  • Guidelines around inclusive content creation for the website
  • Training / workshops for the team members involved to ensure knowledge retention within the project team
  • Complementary to Sopra Steria UX services