In this post, we are going to discuss accessibility testing in detail. Testing for accessibility is a huge topic in the software industry. Learning how to test for it can be difficult and time-consuming, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the process or terminology.
This blog post will cover some basic concepts of accessibility testing and provide resources and tools that can help make your next project more accessible. Let’s get started!
What is Accessibility Testing?
Accessibility testing is a process by which software can be tested for compliance with accessibility standards. Just like regular QA, this process ensures the product is functioning as intended and meets specific requirements from an accessibility standpoint.
The primary difference between traditional QA and accessibility QA is that it focuses on ensuring everyone has access to your application. In other words, it ensures that your application is accessible to people with a standard range of vision and hearing and those who are blind or have low vision.
What is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility means that your website can be used by people with a range of disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness or hearing loss, learning differences such as dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), cognitive limitations, or brain injury.
What are the benefits of accessibility?
Accessibility makes your website more usable for everyone. Improving the accessibility of online resources makes them easier to use and brings benefits to individuals and organizations in a variety of ways, including:
- People with disabilities have equal access to information on the web. This can increase employment opportunities, greater independence, and improved inclusion in community life.
- It is easier to use web portals and services for aging adults, people with a physical disability, or those who may have difficulty using the traditional keyboard/mouse method of input and navigation – this includes people learning English as a second language (ESL).
- Improved customer experiences. People with disabilities are a growing consumer segment. The market for products and services catering to people with disabilities is expected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2018, according to McKinsey & Company’s analysis of the global trends in disability and employment report.
- Reduced liability due to accessibility lawsuits. For example, states with strong enforcement of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA have seen 82% fewer lawsuits filed.
- Better search engine rank position for your web pages, as accessibility is a ranking factor for Google and other major search engines.
So, it’s obvious that companies committed to accessibility can save money by reducing potential liability while reaching out to a new customer base. It’s also easy to see how accessibility promotes equality and inclusion by making the web more accessible for all users, including people with disabilities.
What is accessibility testing?
Accessibility testing is a subset of Usability Testing where users are people who have any abilities or disabilities. A good web application should target all types of people, not just the disabled, including users with poor communications networks and unfamiliar with computer technology.
Accessibility testing is a key part of the development process, as ensuring your applications and services are accessible can help you reach new markets. It can also improve overall usability by identifying issues across all abilities, e.g., people with different language settings, older users with low vision, or problems using a traditional keyboard and mouse input method.
Why Accessibility Testing?
The web is the most important marketplace of our time, but everyone cannot access it. This creates a barrier to participation and excludes some people from opportunities others take for granted. Enabling people with disabilities to access all online content fully is an essential element of running a business on the open Web, and ensuring people with disabilities can use your website is good for business.
Accessibility testing can uncover website design defects that could go unnoticed. If you invest the time to test for accessibility, it will pay off by making your site more usable and thus helping you achieve a competitive advantage through improved customer experience.
What kind of testing can You do?
How you test depends on your website’s goals and your organization’s priorities. For example, a bank may place more of an emphasis on ensuring that their site is accessible to anyone with a visual impairment, while an airline may be more concerned with making sure people who are deaf or have hearing impairments can use the site and services.
Testing for any and all disabilities is critical to ensure that everyone can use your site. There are many different kinds of people with a broad range of abilities and disabilities. It’s difficult, if not impossible, for you or anyone else to anticipate how customers might use your website, so it’s best to test with as many types of customers as possible.
Which Disabilities to Support?
To make sure your site is accessible, it’s critical to test with users who have a range of disabilities. A good rule of thumb is to test with people with cognitive impairment, hearing problems, visual impairment/blindness, physical disability or mobility impairment, learning difficulties (including language disorders), and combinations of these abilities.
Test scenarios should include both basic site navigation and the use of web-based applications. A cognitive impairment usually refers to a reduced ability to process information, while a hearing disability can include partial or total inability to hear.
Testing with People with Disabilities
Accessibility testing is just one part of the overall usability testing process, but it’s important that you test with both disabled and non-disabled people. The more you can do to ensure everyone can use your website, the better.
You may want to consult with an accessibility expert as part of your testing plan. An expert will have experience in assisting organizations with making their websites accessible, and this is an excellent way of ensuring your site designs are fully accessible before they launch. Entra can help you find an expert if needed.
If your organization has set up a usability testing program, it’s easy to include an accessibility specialist as part of the overall process. If not, you might want to consider adding a disability expert as part of your test team so that they can interact with participants during the test and help answer questions.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
The guidelines are based on standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a global community that develops open standards for the web. WCAG is an international standard, approved as ” Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 ” and published by W3C in 2008; its main objective is to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the same information and services as others.
WCAG provides a set of guidelines, each addressing specific groups of people with different needs for web content accessibility. The guidelines are not legislation or strict rules; they are just recommendations you can choose to follow or ignore depending on your site’s goals. Rather than burden you with a tremendous list of requirements, the WCAG guidelines are organized into 12 recommendations. As you implement each recommendation, your site will be more accessible to people with that particular disability or need.
The UK government has also developed its own set of criteria for web accessibility, called the Digital Accessibility Good Practice Checklist, and they’ve also offered a tax incentive for companies to pass accessibility testing.
Tools to Perform Accessibility Testing
You can use many tools to test the accessibility of your website and web applications. They are usually called “screen readers who cannot see a screen due to blindness or low vision. Tools like these help non-disabled users, especially designers, understand how disabled users perceive the information on their” since they help people with disabilities to use the same web tools as non-disabled users.
The main types of accessibility testing tools include screen readers for visually impaired people, authoring/editing tools that support specific coding standards, and WYSIWYG editors that provide additional accessibility options such as keyboard shortcuts and color contrast filters. There are also a number of tools that can help you validate your web pages so that they are more accessible and meet accessibility standards.
Below, we have mentioned some of the most popular tools:
- A11y Color Contrast Accessibility Validator
- ACTF designer
- CSS & HTML Validator