Quality Assurance

To show you how accessibility happens at Facebook, let’s walk through the typical life cycle of an accessibility improvement, aka task. Improvements (or bug reports) come from many sources: user and employee feedback, peer code reviews and formal Quality Assurance (QA) testing. But for simplicity, let’s use QA as an example, since it’s highly structured.

At Facebook, we have a centralized QA team responsible for product testing and we embedded accessibility into this team. We wanted the people who were most familiar with each product to drive accessibility testing in their area. We trained testers on accessibility and helped them write initial test plans, which meant accessibility became part of our standard QA testing schedule. That upfront cost paid huge dividends over time.

Accessibility testing runs on a schedule for every iOS and Android release (both the main app and Messenger), and also for www.facebook.com. About three weeks before we ship a new version of our iOS app, our QA team runs functionality, translations and accessibility testing. Any bugs or improvements are filed in our central task system and assigned to the Product Operations team.

Product Operations (Prod Ops for short) owns the products and supports engineering by managing the priority and ownership of each task. Once QA creates an accessibility task, they assign it to Prod Ops. Prod Ops confirms the bug and prioritizes it against other tasks, using documentation and decision-trees we created to help them triage effectively. After Prod Ops reviews a task, they assign it to the engineer who owns the relevant part of the code. Every task includes links to relevant documentation.

Someone from the core accessibility team will also support most tasks filed for accessibility in case there are questions. We interact with Prod Ops every day to help them navigate the complex space of accessibility, so they can be as independent as possible. While this takes time, we need expert partners working across all of our products and platforms.

To summarize:

  1. Accessibility is a part of the central QA process.
  2. Accessibility improvements move from QA to Prod Ops to Engineering (with support from our accessibility team at each step).
  3. Ownership is distributed across product and platform teams.
Image showing flow of a task from QA to Prod Ops to Eng

Everything we do is with an eye for scale, including our QA process and tasks. If we want our products to improve for accessibility, the people who build the products need to own accessibility. This means they need to know their responsibilities and understand how to make their products accessible.

Investing in people takes time and effort, but if you want your company (not just your core team) to drive accessibility forward, it's important to empower everyone.

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