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Putting accessibility at the heart of Access Worldpay

Creating equal opportunity for everyone

The pandemic, and the subsequent lockdowns, prompted consumers of all ages to embrace online payments, often for the first time. It’s now more important than ever to open them to everyone, regardless of ability, so Access Worldpay has updated two key products, making them far more accessible.

Over 15% of the world’s population have some form of disability1 and at least 2.2 billion people are blind or have a visual impairment2, according to the World Health Organization. And although events this year have highlighted the importance of making the internet genuinely inclusive, statistics like these demonstrate that the need for greater accessibility existed long before Covid-19.

Payments affect everyone

Accessibility is particularly critical for online payments. Even before the pandemic, the ability to transact online brought enormous benefits to both consumers and companies. This year, the ability to shop online has helped millions of people to live their lives while staying safe, and has enabled businesses to continue operating virtually even while their physical doors are shut.

“Payments is one of those industries which touches everybody,” says Nigel Edwards, a senior Quality Assurance Analyst (QA) at Access Worldpay. “If we’re in the forefront as a payments company and we want to be inclusive, accessibility is something we need to focus on more.”

Expert-based updates

With this in mind, Access Worldpay recently released new versions of our Checkout SDK and our Worldpay for Developers site. Users can now get full functionality with just a keyboard, or a keyboard combined with a voice reader.

The improvements were based on recommendations set out by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) – the internationally-recognized standard for web accessibility for over 20 years. Pete Chitvicheankul, a software engineer at Access Worldpay, explains that it provides “an online checklist of to-do things you should follow to match certain accessibility criteria.”

Four key guidelines

The checklist rests on four central WCAG principles, designed to help developers think afresh about the different ways people use content online. These state that accessible information and UI components should be:

  1. Perceivable: depending on their individual circumstances, people may perceive content differently, for example by sight, through synthetic speech or by using electronic Braille.

  2. Operable: people with disabilities may use limited or different tools online. For example, somebody who can’t use a mouse may use a keyboard, perhaps with assistive technology, such as screen readers. Certainly, to be widely operable, all functionality must be accessible with only a keyboard.

  3. Understandable: Not everybody understands information the same way. For example, some people need consistency; some prefer acronyms to be fully spelled out; others want screen readers to speak foreign language content correctly.

  4. Robust: online content and UI components must be able to support not only different devices and browsers, but also a wide range of assistive tools, such as voice recognition software.

Improving Checkout SDK

Following WCAG principles and recommendations has made Checkout SDK much more inclusive. Any merchant using it to take payments from their website or app will achieve at least an AA rating against WCAG standards, signifying that it’s accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities.

Although the SDK now includes default settings, its global user base made customization essential. As a result, users can set specific accessibility configurations when initializing the kit, including the ability to choose the language of any element and all its subordinate elements. They can also set aria labels that provide recognizable names for input fields, as well as title attributes to give advisory information for different elements, such as explaining a security code.

Helping more developers

Over 2% of developers have some form of disability, often a sight impairment, so we’ve also updated our Worldpay for Developers site.3 One new improvement is landmarking elements. “If you’re using a screen reader, Landmark Elements tells you which part of the page you’re on, such as the navigation,” Pete explains: “This helps someone who can’t see the site to understand exactly where they are.”

Other updates include alternative text for images, which let screen readers describe an image, and keyboard navigation. “That’s a big thing for accessibility,” continues Pete. “If you can’t use a mouse, you can still hop through the whole site with just a keyboard, using tab, enter, space and escape. If there’s a link or button, you can access it and trigger any connected action.”

Testing the updates

The next stage was to put the updates through rigorous quality assurance. “To put myself in the shoes of someone with a physical impairment, I did this with my eyes closed, just using the keyboard and tapping around,” Nigel says: “It took a few tries before I got my head around what was happening!”

The testing led to “a lot of back and forth to try and make sure that what we were doing would help the end user,” Nigel continues. “The whole process helped me realize how much harder it is for someone with a physical impairment to navigate the internet, even using all the technologies we have.”

Making accessibility integral

The final stage was to check the updated site with Google Lighthouse. “It can audit your site for accessibility, among other things,” says Pete. “When we used Lighthouse to scan our site, it showed that we’d significantly increased our score, which is great!”

Nonetheless, both Nigel and Pete think they can go further. “We have an ingrained bias, not deliberately, but because we have no impairments ourselves,” says Nigel. This bias, he thinks, makes it especially important to integrate accessibility considerations into user interfaces more completely. “When we’re developing new interfaces we should make accessibility the starting point, rather than tucking it in at the end,” he says: “That really would be thinking outside the box.”

1WHO Global Disability Action Plan 2014-2021, WHO, 2015
2World report on vision, WHO, 2019
32020 Developer Survey, Stackoverflow

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