Evaluating the State of Accessibility in React UI Component Libraries

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för datavetenskap och medieteknik (DM)

Abstract: This work examined the state of accessibility in React UI component libraries. The accessibility of these libraries is essential since they are used to create the frontend of hundreds of thousands of projects. We conducted a controlled experiment to evaluate the accessibility of six open source libraries. We selected libraries based on GitHub dependents intervals to include libraries with varied use. In the experiment, we implemented a UI for each library with a few standard components. We then tested these UI implementations based on WCAG 2.1 and WAI-ARIA 1.1 with automated testing using Axe and manual test cases. We also used exploratory testing with the screen reader NVDA to detect issues based on actual use with an assistive device. We also conducted a literature review to support the experiment and the following discussion and conclusions of its results. We detected 50 accessibility issues in total and all libraries had one or more issues. Also, that there was a significant difference in the accessibility of libraries. The second interval had the least number of issues and was closely followed by the first interval with the most dependents. The two libraries selected from the interval with the least dependents had the most issues. We recommend developers not using libraries from the interval with the least dependents for public web products. Since all libraries had one or more issues, we also recommend developers choose libraries with care to ensure accessibility, WCAG 2.1 compliance, and follow WAI-ARIA 1.1. This work was limited to six libraries and a few components; there are many more of both. Another limitation was that the testing was limited to a desktop resolution and did not include mobile testing. Also, the work used the free version of Axe, and a paid version could potentially detect more accessibility issues.

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