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Improving accessibility in Adobe Admin Console

Adobe Employee ,
Nov 12, 2021 Nov 12, 2021

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About 15% of the world’s population has some form of disability and the other 85% are temporarily abled.

 

“I want a future where disabled people are not underemployed, where we have equal employment opportunities.”

– Haben Girma, American disability rights advocate, and the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School

 

We, at Adobe are working across areas to make our product's interface usable for all. Our biggest win lies in how many people can make their work simple and effective using Adobe's products and services. To that end, we have conducted a thorough analysis of the Adobe Admin Console against industry standards including Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. As result of that audit, we have made significant improvements to the user interface as well as our software development process.

Accessibility evaluation techniques

A battery of automated and manual tests run on the Admin Console user experience helped us find potential barriers to access for people with disabilities. Critical workflows were also tested with tools operated by users with disabilities including screen readers, screen magnifiers, and speech recognition software.

Skilled quality analysts evaluated the usability of the interface by keyboard operation alone. Both screen reader users and users with physical/motor impairments require the operation of the UI to be available without use of a mouse. We also evaluated color contrast and the ability to magnify content for users with lower visual acuity.

Accessible development processes and practices

Through our findings, it was apparent that the development lifecycle needs to consider disabled users sooner in the process. Accessibility is now being “shifted-left” during software development and Adobe Experience Designers are taking up the task of creating accessible user experiences at the design stage.

Our design teams are employing a process known as “bluelines” to provide engineers with the guidance to develop the software to the WCAG standards. This results in a more streamlined process where accessibility can be considered on the drawing board rather than post development.

Improvements for Screen Reader users

Admins who rely on a screen reader now have a far richer and robust experience in the Admin Console. Interactive elements are better described to non-sighted users. We have verified that buttons and toggle switches have meaningful text descriptions describing their function and current state more accurately.

In addition, when a user updates a page, the change is communicated to the non-sighted user via alerts spoken by their screen reader. The entire aural experience has been rethought and reconstructed based on the findings of the audit and the outputs of the revised process.

Improvements for keyboard-only users

Users who cannot rely on the ability to control a mouse now have a far more accessible experience in the Admin Console. Operating menu items and form inputs are now fully available via the keyboard and do not rely on the ability to operate a pointer device like mouse.

Also, we have taken care to identify what interactive item has the keyboard’s focus as to make that keyboard experience optimally usable, consistent, and predictable.

Improvements for low vision users

For users with lower visual acuity and/or colorblindness, we redesigned the UI to ensure a greater ease-of-use. We also increased the text contrast and UI elements to help users of all abilities to distinguish those elements.

We ensured that color alone has not been used to identify parts of the UI that provide instructions or cues. This is a benefit to the population of Admins who may not have the ability to distinguish colors like red and green for example.

Future of Admin Console accessibility

New features of the Admin Console are being developed with the goal of being “born accessible”. These new features will have accessibility factors baked-in throughout their lifecycle. This starts with our Adobe XD teams marking up their comps with bluelines all the way through to our engineers running automated and manual tests on their code prior to delivery.

Moreover, we constantly strive to improve user experience for IT Admins in all areas. If users with disabilities find issues with the Admin Console, they are encouraged to reach out via the Accessibility feedback form.

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