10 Accessibility Engineer Interview Questions and Answers for frontend engineers

flat art illustration of a frontend engineer

1. What inspired you to specialize in Accessibility Engineering?

As a software engineer, I have always been passionate about creating technology that can be used by everyone, regardless of their abilities. However, it wasn't until I worked on a project specifically focused on accessibility that I truly realized the impact my work could have.

  1. During my time at XYZ Company, I helped lead the development of an accessible website for a large retail client.
  2. After launch, we saw a significant increase in website traffic from users with disabilities, including a 35% increase in the conversion rate for these users.
  3. This experience made me realize the profound impact my work could have on not only the user experience but also on the bottom line of businesses.
  4. I became passionate about advocating for accessibility in all of my projects and working to create technology that can be used by everyone, regardless of their abilities.

I believe that accessibility engineering is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic advantage for businesses. By designing technology with everyone in mind, we can create solutions that are more inclusive, more effective, and ultimately more successful.

2. What are the benefits of making a website accessible for all users?

Ensuring website accessibility for all users is not just a moral obligation, but also provides numerous benefits. Some of these benefits are:

  1. Expanded Reach: When a website is made accessible, it opens its doors to millions of users with various disabilities. For instance, approximately 285 million people worldwide experience some form of vision impairment, and thus unable to access websites without certain assistive technologies such as screen readers or voice commands. So, by optimizing a website for accessibility, developers can ensure that all users can access the information and services provided by the website.

  2. Legal Compliance: Inaccessibility of websites can initiate legal actions against companies, which can cause financial and reputational damage. For instance, a significant US company, Target, had to pay $10 million in a web accessibility lawsuit in 2020, after their website was inaccessible to blind customers.

  3. Improved User Experience: Accessibility can result in a better user experience for both disabled and non-disabled users. Websites with easy navigability, clear readability, and proper color contrasts can enhance the user experience and lead to user satisfaction.

  4. SEO advantages: Web accessibility can play a vital role in search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines such as Google and Yahoo!, detect accessibility issues when crawling websites, and the accessibility problems can negatively impact website ranking. Therefore, by making a website accessible, developers can improve a website's SEO ranking, leading to a more authentic online presence.

3. What are some common accessibility issues you have encountered in your work, and how did you fix them?

During my work as an Accessibility Engineer, I have encountered several common accessibility issues, such as:

  1. A lack of alternative text on images, which makes it difficult for visually impaired users to understand the context of an image. I solved this issue by providing alternative text for each image that describes the content and purpose of the image.
  2. Low color contrast between text and background, which makes it difficult for users with color vision deficiency to read content. I fixed this issue by increasing the contrast ratio to meet the WCAG 2.1 guidelines.
  3. Inaccessible keyboard navigation, which prevents users with mobility impairments from accessing all parts of the website. I addressed this issue by adding keyboard shortcuts, enabling tab navigation, and ensuring that all elements on the page were accessible via keyboard.

Through my efforts, I was able to increase the overall accessibility of the website, resulting in a significant improvement in user engagement and satisfaction. For instance, the bounce rate decreased by 20%, and the time spent on the website increased by 15%.

4. How do you collaborate with designers, developers and stakeholders to make sure the accessibility requirements are met throughout the development process?

Collaboration is crucial for achieving accessibility in any project development process. Being an accessibility engineer, I typically work with designers, developers and stakeholders to ensure accessibility requirements are met at all stages of the development process.

  1. During the planning stage, I participate in the project team's planning meetings to increase awareness of accessibility standards and guidelines. I provide the team with a list of accessibility requirements that they need to focus on while creating designs, and offer suggestions for implementing accessibility features.

  2. On the design stage, I review wireframes and designs provided by the designers and offer feedback on accessibility issues that may arise from these designs. I provide feedback on color contrast, typography, and layout, and suggest any improvements that would create a better experience for users with disabilities.

  3. During the development stage, I work closely with developers to ensure that accessibility features are properly implemented, and help them address any issues that may arise. I conduct manual testing and use automated tools and techniques to test for accessibility compliance. I also provide developers with resources and guidance on how to make their code accessible.

  4. During the testing stage, I conduct comprehensive accessibility testing and offer feedback to the development team to fix identified issues. I conduct user testing to ensure a positive user experience for users with disabilities.

  5. Finally, I work with stakeholders to explain the importance of accessibility and how it impacts their business. I provide them with the results of our accessibility testing, which includes the number of issues we identified and resolved, and explain how we can continue to make their product better for all users.

Through collaboration, I have seen an increase in accessibility compliance and the positive impacts it has on user experience. In my last project, we achieved a 70% increase in user satisfaction rates for users with disabilities, thanks to our accessibility efforts.

5. When conducting accessibility testing, what tools do you usually use?

When conducting accessibility testing, there are a variety of tools I use depending on the project and client needs. Here are a few:

  1. Screen readers: I use a combination of JAWS and NVDA to simulate the experience of using a website or application through a screen reader for visually impaired users. Through testing with these tools, I have been able to identify and fix multiple issues related to keyboard navigation, ARIA tags, and other accessibility improvements that are necessary for an improved user experience.
  2. Browser plugins: I frequently use the Axe accessibility plugin or equivalent tools that are available for various browsers when checking for common accessibility failures. These tools quickly scan the DOM for commonly identified problems such as color contrast issues or broken ARIA labels. Since it is faster to use, it also saves time enabling me to get more done in a shorter amount of time.
  3. Manual tests: While automated tests can weed out a significant amount of issues, I still conduct manual tests to make sure that the website or application working as expected to for everyone. I specifically perform tests that include the use of keyboard only, voice command, and other assistive technologies. Also, I usually involve real accessibility end-users to use the website and give feedback on areas that need improvement.

Using these tools in combination periodically enables me to provide a comprehensive analysis of any website or application that I perform accessibility testing. Based on these professional practices, I was able to increase site accessibility by 23% within four months for my recent client, as measured with Google's Lighthouse accessibility report.

6. What are the most important accessibility features that are required in any website or web application?

As an Accessibility Engineer, I understand that accessibility is crucial to ensure that every user, regardless of their ability or disability, can interact with websites and web applications. There are several critical accessibility features that any website or web application must-have.

  1. Proper Alt Text: The alternative text (alt text) for images and other non-text content must be descriptive and convey the same information as the visual content. Studies have shown that providing appropriate alt text leads to an increase in website usability by 76%.
  2. Keyboard Navigation: Users who rely on a keyboard to navigate a website must be able to access all interactive elements without relying on the mouse. Keyboard navigation must be easy to understand and follow to allow seamless and natural navigation.
  3. Color Contrast: Every text and graphical element on the website must have sufficient color contrast to improve readability and ease of use for users with visual impairments. Improper color contrast can lead to difficulties in distinguishing between different graphical elements.
  4. Appropriate Headings: Headings are essential for understanding the structure of web content. Headings must be appropriately hierarchized and convey clear information about the content. Proper headings help people with disabilities better understand the content and navigate around the page
  5. Alternative Content: All multimedia content on a website, such as audio and video, must include transcripts or closed captions, and any other necessary information to ensure that all users can have equal access to the information.

Without these features, websites and web applications are not inclusive, and many users will be excluded from accessing the website's content. Ensuring that users with disabilities and accessibility needs can interact with websites and web applications not only makes websites more reliable but also provides equal opportunities to all users.

7. Can you describe a particularly challenging project you worked on from an accessibility standpoint, and how you overcame any obstacles?

One project that comes to mind was a website revamp for a large e-commerce company. The website was not accessible to visually impaired users, which was a major problem. My team and I were tasked with making it compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA.

  1. The first step we took was conducting a thorough accessibility audit of the site. We used automated tools and manual testing to identify all the accessibility issues.
  2. Then, we created a plan of action and proposed solutions to the company's development team. We explained the importance of accessibility and the legal implications of not complying with the WCAG.
  3. After getting the green light, we implemented several changes, including providing alternative text for images, making the website keyboard accessible, and improving the color contrast for the visually impaired. We also created an accessibility statement on the website, outlining our commitment to accessibility.

Our hard work paid off. Not only did we make the website fully accessible, but the company also saw an increase in sales and customer satisfaction. In fact, we received positive feedback from customers who were previously unable to use the website.

8. How do you stay up-to-date with the latest accessibility guidelines and standards?

As an accessibility engineer, it is crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest guidelines and standards. I consistently read industry publications, attend conferences and webinars, and participate in online forums and communities to stay informed about evolving accessibility practices.

  1. One way I stay updated is by subscribing to newsletters such as Web Accessibility Weekly and Accessibility Matters. These resources provide valuable information about the latest updates to accessibility guidelines and best practices.

  2. Another effective method I employ is attending accessibility conferences such as CSUN or AccessU. These events offer a wealth of knowledge about emerging trends and techniques in the accessibility field.

  3. Being an active member of online communities such as LinkedIn, Slack, and Twitter allows me to connect with other accessibility professionals and stay current on the latest trends in the field.

  4. I also conduct regular reviews of websites and applications for accessibility compliance. This practice helps me to understand common accessibility issues and address them in my work.

  5. Finally, I use various accessibility auditing tools such as Axe, Tenon, and WAVE to help identify potential accessibility issues and ensure compliance with current accessibility standards, such as WCAG 2.1.

By keeping up with the latest practices and tools, I can ensure that the digital products I work on are accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of their abilities.

9. What are some common misconceptions about accessibility?

One common misconception about accessibility is that it is only relevant to a small minority of people with disabilities. However, this is far from the truth. According to a 2018 World Report on Disability by the World Health Organization, over 1 billion people (15% of the world's population) have a disability. This means that accessibility is a significant concern and should be taken seriously. Another common misconception is that accessibility is mainly about making websites readable for visually impaired people. In reality, accessibility involves a lot more than that. It encompasses a broad range of disabilities, including auditory, cognitive, physical, and speech disabilities. Ensuring accessibility for all these groups requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond visual design.

Another misconception is that making your website accessible requires a lot of time and resources. While it is true that implementing accessibility features can take some time and effort, studies show that the return on investment can be significant. For instance, a survey conducted by the Web Accessibility Initiative found that accessible websites generate 35% more unique visitors than their inaccessible counterparts. Furthermore, accessible websites have shown to have a 63% increase in sales for e-commerce sites.

  1. What are some common misconceptions about accessibility?
    1. Accessibility is only relevant to a small minority of people with disabilities
    2. Accessibility is mainly about making websites readable for visually impaired people
    3. Making your website accessible requires a lot of time and resources
  2. What is the percentage of people with disabilities worldwide?
    1. 15%
  3. What is the potential return on investment for accessible websites?
    1. 35% more unique visitors than inaccessible websites.
    2. 63% increase in sales for e-commerce sites.

10. When working with a team, how do you advocate for accessibility and make sure it's prioritized?

As an Accessibility Engineer, it is essential to advocate for accessibility within a team, to ensure that it is prioritized. Advocating for accessibility includes educating the team members on the importance of accessibility and including it in the product development process.

  1. Firstly, I would conduct an accessibility audit to identify accessibility issues in the product. By doing this, I would have a clear understanding of the accessibility problems that exist and their severity.
  2. After identifying the accessibility issues, I would compile a report of the findings and share them with the team. This report would include suggestions on how to address the issues and the impact of these issues on users, including stats such as the number of users that may be affected by the problems.
  3. During team meetings, I would actively bring up accessibility issues and how to resolve them. I would provide solutions on how to tackle the issues and the potential impact on users.
  4. I would also ensure that accessibility is integrated into the development process by conducting regular accessibility check-ins with the team. These check-ins would allow for the inclusion of accessibility features during the development process, which can save time and resources in the long run.
  5. Furthermore, I would encourage the team to attend accessibility training courses to learn more about accessibility and to promote inclusivity within the product. By doing so, the team will feel empowered to improve the accessibility of the product on their own.

Overall, advocating for accessibility within a team is crucial to ensure that accessibility is an integral part of the product development process. It not only promotes inclusivity but also has a positive impact on the business's bottom line. By prioritizing accessibility, businesses can widen their customer base, increase satisfaction, and drive revenue.

Conclusion

Congratulations on making it through these 10 Accessibility Engineer interview questions and answers for 2023. Now that you have a better idea of what to expect in an interview, it's time to start preparing for the application process. Don't forget to write a compelling cover letter that highlights your skills and experience. Also, make sure your CV stands out by following our guide on writing a resume for frontend engineers. Finally, if you're looking for a remote frontend engineer job, head over to our job board to start browsing our curated listings here. Good luck on your job search!

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