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The Importance of Accessibility Testing

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Web Accessibility has become one of the top trending topics in today’s digital market. In addition to knowing it as a trending topic, we all must be aware of what exactly it is and why it is important. Therefore, in this blog post we will discuss the following:

What is Web Accessibility Testing?

By the definition, Web Accessibility Testing is a practice to ensure that the web/mobile applications are accessible for people who have disabilities such as blindness, hearing problems, motor or cognitive impairments. Testing web accessibility ensures that the web content is reachable to anyone without any barriers. It is often categorized under usability testing and needs to be included in the software testing life cycle.

When we say Web Accessibility Testing, it is not just for the web, but also refers to mobile/tablet applications as well, and many times web accessibility is also known as digital accessibility.

So, how do we test accessibility? Are there any standards to go about it? What are the measuring criteria for testing accessibility? Let’s dive deeper into it in this post 🤔

The World Wide Consortium (W3C) has created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines which defines the list of accessibility standards. The guidelines are classified under 4 principles:

  • Perceivable: Information and user interface must be presentable to users in a way they can perceive. For example: Alternate text for images.
  • Operable: Navigation through the UI must be accessible and operable. For example: Keyboard navigation (every link on the page must be accessible with keyboard stroke).
  • Understandable: The content on the user interface must be understandable. For example: Meaningful message instead of a color driven instruction.
    Many times we have seen color driven instructions such as for an incorrect entry on a field, and instead of showing a meaningful message, that field will be usually highlighted in a color. This will not be suitable for people who need to access the application using assistive technology.
  • Robust: UI content must be robust enough so that it can be accessible for various user agents. For example: Accessing a website URL on desktop web as well as on a mobile/tablet web/web viewport.

For each guideline, there are defined testable criteria at three levels based on the complexity – A, AA, and AAA. The design, development and testing team can leverage these guidelines while designing, developing and testing the application.

What Are The Different Types of Web Accessibility Testing?

There are 2 different types of Web Accessibility Testing:

  1. Manual Web Accessibility Testing
  2. Automated Web Accessibility Testing

The easiest and basic manual way of testing accessibility is keyboard accessibility. This has been done by pressing ‘tab’ key of the keyboard. Ideally, every link will get focused on every ‘tab’ press and thus the user will be able to navigate through the application. There are assisting technologies such as screen-readers (NVDA, JAWS, VoiceOver, Talkback, etc.). These screen readers will read what appears on the application and will help people with vision impairments to use and understand the web better. 

If we consider automated way of testing accessibility, then there are quite a lot of options such as browser plug-ins (Axe for Chrome and Firefox, Web Accessibility Toolbar, etc.), automated APIs (Axe, pa11y, etc.) and other tools such as Accessibility Inspector, JAWS Inspect, The Colour Contrast Analyser, etc.

Accessibility testing needs to be carried out in software development cycles just like any other testing, and should be included as early as possible. Here why 👉

Benefits of Web Accessibility Testing

By following web accessibility guidelines and doing accessibility testing, we are not only building an application accessible for the disabled, but we are also getting other benefits:

  • Avoiding legal complications – Many countries have made it mandatory that websites must meet the accessibility requirements before going live. Accessibility testing must be done to meet legal compliances.
  • A potential growth in the business – 1 in 5 people are live with some sort of disability, which forms 19% of the UK’s population. So if the application is built by following accessible guidelines, that reaches people with disabilities as well and results in potential growth in your company’s revenue.
  • Accurate Search results – If the website is built by keeping accessibility in mind, it will have rich text which will make search engines to find websites more easily as search engines will look for text while looking up the content.
  • Better User Experience – If a digital content is made accessible, it can be useful for any user who utilizes your application as intended. Since keeping accessible design makes the application’s navigation, text clarity, appearance and many other features more appealing and user friendly.

Why Is Web Accessibility Testing Necessary?

Accessibility testing is necessary and important for the people, business and society – The ENTIRE community 🙌

As the influence of digital media is increasing day by day, websites and digital applications have become an inevitable part of education, healthcare, entertainment, banking, insurance and many more. It is essential that these be made accessible for people with diverse abilities.

Accessibility is also required by law in many cases and many countries have made it mandatory.

Summary

Accessibility testing is a methodology explaining how easily one can navigate, access and understand web/mobile applications/content. It is very important to understand that accessibility is not just for people who are disabled but also helps everyone including older people, children, people who are left-handed, a person holding a baby, and many more. Just like any other testing, accessibility can also be tested by manual and automated options by keeping WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standards as a reference.

References

  1. https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/helping-people-to-use-your-service/making-your-service-accessible-an-introduction
  2. https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/
  3. https://g3ict.org/index.php/actions/assetCount/download?id=YkB7eWjmKP%40VKHNNlRefVCaqPifQ2bA9WysHj3QdRaM%3D
  4. https://www.statista.com/statistics/617136/digital-population-worldwide/
  5. https://www.guru99.com/accessibility-testing.html#2

 

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About the author

Aparna Gopalakrishnan

Aparna is one of the leading automation test experts and trainers with nine-plus years of consulting experience to world-leading firms on test automation and Behavior Driven Development.

She is specialized in creating and designing frameworks and solutions on web/API/accessibility and visual test automation mainly on Java and JS.

She is highly skilled and passionate about learning new tools and technologies and sharing her learnings back to the testing community and applying them into real-time systems

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Comments

7 2 comments
  • New PM Articles for the Week of November 25 – December 1 | The Practicing IT Project Manager December 2, 2019, 5:01 am

    […] Aparna Gopalakrishnan digs into accessibility testing—what is it, why is it necessary, and how we should proceed. 4 minutes to read. And Topal analyzes the growing risk of ADA website accessibility lawsuits. 4 minutes to read. […]

  • Five Blogs – 4 December 2019 – 5blogs December 4, 2019, 6:46 am

    […] The Importance of Accessibility Testing Written by: Aparna Gopalakrishnan […]

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