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Role definition document
- 1 Accessibility Lifecycle Cross-Functional Team Roles
- 1.1 1. Business Role Group
- 1.2 2. Author Role Group
- 1.3 3. Design Role Group
- 1.4 4. Development Role Group
- 1.5 5. Testing Role Group
- 1.6 6. Administration Role Group
Accessibility Lifecycle Cross-Functional Team Roles
This document acts as contextual support to the Role-Based Decision Tree document and focuses on providing a baseline to define the typical roles and responsibilities of common stakeholders in a typical web development lifecycle. It covers a list of the most common roles found within a cross-functional product team, specifically when it comes to building websites and web applications. These roles descriptions are generalized on purpose. A person on a team may identify with more than one role. Anyone who uses this resource is welcome to adapt this list to the reality of their own team or organization.
For consistency, each role description includes areas of focus in decision making, decision ownership, notes on the primary tasks of that role, a shortlist of common job titles, as well as a general description of the responsibilities assumed by that role in terms of accessibility.
The four main groups (categories) of roles covered in this document include:
1. Business Role Group
Main focus: Business Vision, Rules & Requirements
Writes business requirements and/or initial user stories, are concerned with ensuring that the project delivers the agreed-upon business benefits.
Business analysts are involved in the design or modification of business systems or IT systems. They interact with business stakeholders and subject matter experts in order to understand their problems and needs. They gather, document and analyze business needs and requirements to help steer the team towards an end result that meets the organization's needs and expectations.
2. Author Role Group
Main focus: Content Strategy and Content Authoring (including audio/video production)
Responsible for creating all text presented by the deliverable in all forms (HTML, audio, video). Defines or selects the standards the content should meet and processes for its review and preparation.
Content Creation is often used in marketing, but can also be a task assigned to a role within a product team. Content creation involves defining a content strategy, the writing or creation of the content or media for a product. The person who authors the content is responsible for making sure that content is accessible to people with disabilities.
Content Creation extends to roles specific audio and video media production. These begin with the writing of scripts but can extend to the production of the media files or support of live streaming content.
Description (not a definition, needs a more polished “Definition” statement): Team members who are not front-end web developers that are tasked with preparing content for publishing to websites, products, applications, etc. These team members do not author content, instead they work with the content within specific business enterprise systems or software tools and apply edits to material generated by content authors.
Content Publishers may perform some tasks that are a part of the front end web developer skillset, however they are not web developers and are often applying this markup using proprietary tools and widget.
3. Design Role Group
Main focus: User Experience (UX) and Presentation decisions
These roles define the general "look and feel" of the products covering presentation, functionality, features, operation. They translate input from business roles into user stories, requirements, specifications, documentation, guidelines used by other roles (mainly Development) to build the finish product. This includes applying research and understanding of the intended audiences for a quality experience.
Visual Design focuses largely on the look and feel of an application, as an end user would experience it, visually or otherwise. This includes specifying original design of interface elements and layout, choosing fonts and colors, and more. While UX design is focused on how something works, visual design is focused on how it looks and feels.
User Experience Design
The role of UX Design can potentially cover a large number of related areas: from exploratory user research (like user interviews, ethnographic research, etc.) to partial front-end development. For the purposes of this resource, UX Design is defined by its core responsibilities, such as information architecture, creating wireframes (low fidelity screen mockups), creating prototypes that define interactions, or testing designs for usability.
4. Development Role Group
Main focus: Development
Oversees the creation, coding and delivery of the product based upon the requirements provided. Responsible for all user-facing and supporting systems, along with all related infrastructure selection, setup and deployment.
Back end developers have a smaller, more indirect involvement with accessibility work, but still play a critical role in delivering accessible products, as the underlying product architecture can inform accessibility solutions. It’s important for back end developers to be involved in accessibility discussions so that any potential issues stemming from how the database is organized can be caught and fixed, or better yet, avoided altogether.
5. Testing Role Group
Main focus: Testing
QA Testers run automated test frameworks or manually test products to confirm correct operation based upon provided requirement.
QA Testing Roles (overall)
Quality Assurance (QA) Testers typically don’t contribute directly to the design and development phases of a product. They may have the opportunity to review and sign off on designs before they are implemented. The main accessibility role of a QA Tester in the accessibility lifecycle is to understand the accessibility requirements that exist and to run tests to ensure the product or feature conforms to those requirements. The testing roles have been split between automated and manual, but a number of QA professionals will do both.
Automated QA Testing
Quality Assurance (QA) automation frameworks typically run against products in order to test features and functionality that would otherwise fall to a manual QA tester. For the purpose of this resource, a QA Tester performing automated tests is responsible for running tests within an automation framework that covers accessibility features and requirements. This can be accomplished either through automation of functional tests, and/or the inclusion of an accessibility testing library within the framework. QA Testers responsible for automated testing may also typically run automated accessibility testing tools, such as browser extensions or add-ons. It is expected that automated tools will uncover about 30 to 35% of potential accessibility issues on a screen. The rest will be identified through the team's manual accessibility testing methodology.
Manual QA Testing
Quality Assurance Testers responsible for manual testing will typically handle the testing that cannot be covered through the use of automated tools. They will typically be resources that are more knowledgeable about accessibility, with a deeper understanding of the requirements, and some experience operating assistive technologies for testing, such as screen readers. They will typically run a series of test cases to validate the degree of inclusion of the components of a screen and will be charged with making sure that the overall user experience is positive for people with disabilities. It is expected that manual testing will build on top of an automated testing process, in order to cover the remaining 65 to 70% of potential accessibility issues on any given screen.
6. Administration Role Group
Main focus: Business Vision, Rules & Requirements
The roles in this section cover managing the product and project, as well as other bureaucratic functions of the broader organization that often have a larger mandate than any individual project. Most administrative roles, as defined in this resource, have very little, if anything, to do with the design, the implementation, or the testing of accessibility principles to create more inclusive applications and websites. These roles, however, are still instrumental in ensuring that the team members who are actively taking part in making content accessible and conformant with WCAG can be successful at doing so. This begins with project managers and product owners working hand in hand with the design, development and testing teams, but also other governance roles contributing to steering the organization's culture in a direction that is aligned with the goals pursued by accessibility guidelines.
Product owners own individual products and define their features and are key to defining the importance of accessibility on a project. It is their job to make sure that products are built and delivered in a way that meets business needs and user needs. They should have some basic understanding of the accessibility implications of the UI requirements they request, such as cost and required infrastructure. But, as with features in general, they delegate design and implementation decisions to other roles. As a result, they are typically not directly involved and do not have ownership in the ARRM model.
Project managers are primarily responsible for keeping everything about the process of building a product organized and on track. They have little decision-making power directly impacting accessibility. The person managing the project should make sure that accessibility is built into estimates, user stories (if Agile), and requirements documents. In smaller teams, the roles of product owners and project managers often overlap.
Unlike most other administrative roles, governance is not part of an individual project team. Their mandate focuses on the big picture, often enterprise-wide initiatives. Most importantly to individual projects, governance roles are deliberative (often committee-based) and are not bound to the deadlines of a singular project without outside, executive influence to encourage higher-velocity decision making.