A11Y & Analytics

Using automated scanning software, such as DubBot, and manual testing are two excellent ways to identify potential accessibility issues in your digital assets. There is one more tool you can add to the mix and that is analytics.

Finding an Issue
To help identify accessibility issues, use the Age demographic information in Google Analytics. "Inelegantly put, the older one gets, the more likely one will experience vision, hearing, and mobility issues - in other words, reading glasses, hearing aids, and arthritis. All of this affects the user experience, and typically older users are a large and valuable website audience." ~ Julie Young, UX Strategist

Age as an indicator
Using Google Analytics, first determine the size of your older user population. With “Demographics and Interest Reports” enabled, open the "Audience" section, then click "Demographics." You’ll be able to see how large your older audience is and be able to see where they are spending most of their time in comparison with your younger audience. That comparison may very well be your first clue that there is an accessibility problem.

Age as a Secondary Dimension
Next, you will want to add Age as a secondary dimension to two key performance indicators:

  • Landing Pages - check bounce rate and the average session duration. Which Age segment has the highest bounce rate? Which Age segment has the longest session duration?
  • Exit Pages - compare behaviors between your older and younger users. Are the behaviors similar or drastically different? If you have pages with video, are older users leaving those pages before having time to view the video? If so, you may have an accessibility issue.
If your analytics tell you that the behavior of your older users is vastly different from your younger users, it's time to scan and test your site to pinpoint where and what the barriers are that are causing those differences. Once you have that information, you can begin the process of remediation.

Analytics and Accessibility Improvements
The following 3 questions come from a presentation given by Josh Harrison, Intuit senior software engineer. (See "Prove Accessibility works with Analytics" in the References section.)

  1. How do I know when an accessibility update is actually being used?
    • use Google Tag Manager to ID what keys are pressed by keyboard users
    • use the "label" property to tag the event as "a11y"
    • {
      "category": "edit_time"
      "
      action": "changing job code using keypress event"
      "label": "a11y"
      "other": "keyCode: ENTER KEY (13)"
      }

  2. How can I track what changes are most successful?
    • Discoverability - Document the date and the time your accessibility fix was released along with what barrier was corrected and how. Using the data collected (see the above paragraph) you can now determine when and how often that fix is being used. "This discoverability data has proven valuable not only to validating the efforts but also to reinforce and encourage the developers who are making the changes." ~ Josh Harrison, Intuit senior software engineer.

  3. How do I prove time spent towards a code change has value?
    • Success for one - success for many (See "Follow Me Home" in the References section.)
    • Intuit uses a process they call Follow Me Home. It works like this: 
      • watch their customer use the product in their home
      • ask the customer questions about their experience with the product
      • get a clear understanding of what works and what doesn't for that customer
      • brainstorm inclusive solutions
      • implement the solution(s)
      • follow up with the customer, review the solution, get the customer feedback
    • One particular customer of Intuit had reached out explaining that she could not add her availability to the scheduling software using the keyboard only. Using the Follow Me Home process, the accessibility team at Intuit was able to identify and remediate the barrier. "We originally set out to remove a barrier for one customer, but we found that many other users discovered they could now manage their schedule with a keyboard for the first time.  The success for one became a success for more than 6,000 unique customers!" ~ Julie Elliot, Intuit

Automated testing, manual testing, and analytics...a perfect 3-pronged approach to accessibility and inclusive design.

References

Maggie Vaughan, CPACC
~ friend of DubBot, A11Y practitioner in higher ed