Highlights and Takeaways from our 2nd Annual aXe Hackathon


This year we held our 2nd annual aXe Accessibility Hackathon after the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference in San Diego. We had a blast (and learned a thing or two) as we worked together to identify and file accessibility bugs against large component libraries.

By focusing primarily on projects with broad adoption, accessibility fixes have potential to trickle down to every website or web application including that library. Ultimately, this kind of work will have the most impact on the lives of people with disabilities, as it contributes to the creation of a more accessible workplace environment.  A more accessible web also means a better user experience for everyone, part of the reason why digital accessibility is so important.

Projects at the Hackathon

At the hackathon, I listed a few test projects recommended by maintainers that would have a large impact on users, such as: Office Fabric 365, U.S. Design Standards, WordPress themes, Material Design components, Frend.co, AMP HTML, and more. Using Deque’s free aXe extensions for Chrome and Firefox, attendees began bug bashing alone or in small groups, depending on their experience and interests. A few more technical attendees worked on bugs and features for axe-core, the open source JavaScript library powering our browser extensions and test integrations.

As a group, we talked about using the aXe extensions to identify issues on websites and how to file helpful accessibility bugs for maintainers of those websites on Github (here’s a template). In some of the smaller groups, we discussed how to report and fix bugs on axe-core itself. The few hours we had together flew by, and before we knew it the day was over.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the 2017 aXe Hackathon:

  • eBay’s Senior Accessibility Product Manager Luis Garcia submitted a change–which was accepted–to AMP’s Github Issue Template, prompting contributors to outline how accessibility might be impacted. Thanks to Nick Schonning for his awesome suggestion!
  • Caitlin Cashin, Deque’s marketing manager, filed her first Github issue on Office Fabric 365!
  • Freelance software developer Job van Achterberg filed a pull request in axe-core that improved the algorithm for detecting the correct role for native elements that map to explicit roles. The PR was accepted and Job has become the 30th contributor to the axe-core project.
  • Mallory van Achterberg, accessibility ace and JavaScript developer from Pearson, added some information to an open SVG issue for axe-core.
  • Google Chrome Software Engineer Alice Boxhall worked on an architecture change to axe-core that returns element node references from the axe.run() API method.
  • The yummy breakfast provided by Deque.
  • …and much more.

Now that attendees have more experience identifying accessibility issues in component libraries and reporting them (noting, some in attendance were already experts), I hope this important work will continue throughout the year. The aXe hackathon was the tip of the iceberg for reporting accessibility bugs–library maintainers and people with disabilities would all benefit from any amount of time we can chip in for this purpose.aXe: the accessibility engine logo

aXe Hackathon Takeaways

  • Got some time to kill? Find a component library and submit an accessibility issue! You don’t have to be a developer to contribute to open source projects.
  • Want to make a bigger impact? Submit a change to a component library’s Github Issue Template requiring information on accessibility.
  • Come to the aXe hackathon in 2018 to make an even bigger dent in accessibility awareness and support!

If your company would like to sponsor some part of next year’s event, let us know! And if you want to take a shot at some bug-bashing yourself, download our free aXe extension. If you can download the tool, you can start testing for accessibility!

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About Marcy Sutton

Marcy is a Developer Advocate at Deque Systems. She's also an #axeCore team member, @a11ySea meetup organizer & mountain enthusiast.
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