ARC Update – ARC Rules v5.0 released

We’re excited to announce the release of ARC Rules v5.0 on October 8th, 2021! This release of the ARC Platform’s exclusive rule engine is a complete rewrite from version 4.0 ruleset and brings with it a unified rule engine for managing both automated and manual rules, greater flexibility for executing automated rules, and improved logic for finding issues buried in today’s complex web pages. 

Key improvements

  • Automated and Manual Rules in the same rule engine
    By including both our automated and manual rules in the same rule engine we can ensure consistent coverage of WCAG Success Criteria when working with performing a manual accessibility review. Stay tuned to see how you can leverage these manual rules in your own testing.
  • 60 automated rule enhancements and changes
    • 56 improvements ARC’s ability to accurately find WCAG issues
    • 3 rare false-positive findings have been resolved
    • 1 rule was renamed for consistency (because we like a tidy rule engine)
  • Flexible testrunner
    The code that runs all the tests in ARC Rules 5.0 is now independent of the rules sets and the ARIA/HTML standards, which allows much greater flexibility around what rules should be run and when. For example, rules selection can be limited to a specific topic (i.e. Images), WCAG criteria (i.e. WCAG 2.1), or a specific test rule (i.e. headings).
  • Flexible ruleset
    Each rule is now atomic, with the logic described in a single place making it easy for our engineering team to review each rule and the tests used to ensure that the rule is testing the right things.
    The ruleset can also be easily extended without affecting any of the other rules. This flexibility will allow us to create rules that identify failures of known and industry-accepted best practices, or to support new standards when they are released. And thanks to the flexibility of our new testrunner, we’ll also be able to release and execute rules in a ‘draft’ status, for safe/progressive integration into the ruleset on an as-needed basis.
  • Improved ARIA support
    ARIA support was inconsistent across the previous ARC Rules. Now the full ARIA standard is described in a single base file used by all rules.
  • Tests are restricted, by default to non-hidden elements
    Previously elements that were hidden using aria-hidden or display: none either on the element or a parent element, were still evaluated. Now by default, these elements are ignored which speeds up the time to scan a page and improves the reporting of issues so that only those issues that affect the state of the current view are considered.
  • Improved support for iframes
    Previously the ARC Rules did not accurately provide the location of issues when found within an iframe. This is has been corrected so that the location in which the iframe the issue was found is properly relayed back to the user.
  • Initial support for the Accessibility Conformance Testing (ACT) testcases

Since the ARC Rule 4.0 was released, the W3C began the ACT Rules Community Group bringing together those in the industry interested in automated accessibility testing to standardize on a core set of test definitions and test cases that automated accessibility testing tools can use to determine whether they harmonize with a known interpretation of the WCAG success criteria. The rules in ARC Rules 5.0 now provide much better coverage of the current ACT testcases. There’s still work to do, but this ensures that all the rules available previously in version 4.0 now pass the ACT testcases in version 5.0.

At TPGi we’re excited about the future the flexibility ARC Rules v5.0 is going to give us to better meet the needs of our accessibility engineers, clients, and the community.

Categories: ARC Platform

About Brad Henry

Brad Henry is the Director of Marketing for TPGi. With 15+ years of experience in digital marketing with a focus B2B SaaS, e-commerce, and data/analytics, he brings the perspective of content creation and digital property ownership to the accessibility space.