In the first two articles of this series, we’ve discussed the importance of accessibility testing: What is web accessibility testing, what types of accessibility testing are there, what are the benefits of web accessibility testing, and why is web accessibility testing necessary. In the second article, we discussed some of the most popular open source accessibility tools, including their pros and cons.
In this article, we will look at the best practices when testing accessibility.
We know that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has defined WCAG guidelines (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) for web accessibility. In web design, development, and testing we must follow these guidelines. So it goes without saying that these guidelines should be at the top of our checklist when testing accessibility.
Along with W3C guidelines, we have to consider a few other factors as well, both technical standards and social standards.
Accessibility Testing Best Practices – Technical Standards 👨💻
Be cautious with the color selection. People with vision impairments will have a sensitivity to colors. There should not be any too low or too high contrast colors on the page.
In addition, we must try to avoid color driven instructions. For example, if any error occurs when filling up the page, the error message should be displayed instead of just highlighting the field.
Images should have <AltText>
When an image is used on the page, it should have a meaningful text associated with that image, describing it with <AltText>. Complex images should have more extensive descriptions near the image (as a caption or descriptive summaries built right into a neighboring paragraph). This enables screen-readers to read out what is the image on the screen.
Functionalities of the website must be accessible using both the keyboard and mouse, so that they can be used with screen-readers as well.
Videos must have captions and Podcasts must have transcripts
If videos are present on the website, it must have captions, so that even people with hearing problems can enjoy watching them. Similarly for any podcast, the complete transcripts are mandatory. Both of these are not only helpful for people with disabilities, but for everyone.
Forms should be properly labeled
Forms must have the correct label to enable users to fill the form hassle-free.
No “Click Here” or “More” links
Websites should not have hyperlinks such as “Click Here” or “More” to redirect to another page. Instead, a link with meaningful information should be provided.
Add Skip Navigation Feature
Websites must have the skip navigation feature to skip certain things which are unnecessary or repeated.
Tables should be properly aligned
If a table is present on the page, it must be well organized and structured in such a way that the overall alignment of the page is not broken.
Accessibility Testing Best Practices – Social Standards 🌍
Everyone is different, so are the demands and needs
It is important to understand that people have different interests and choices. While using technology to build a website, we must ensure the accessibility for people who will be using our webiste, no matter what their beliefs are or traits are.
Technology is powerful
Technology is changing day by day, and it is important to consider the people who will be using our website before building it. If we do not build it right, things will backfire and we will have to spend a lot of time and money to fix it. Thus, choosing the right technology is key.
Test accessibility as early as possible
Many times accessibility testing is considered in the exploratory testing phase. It will be good practice if we could consider that in our early test cycles. This way, accessibility issues will be identified and fixed as early as possible.
Real user feedback is very important
There is no substitute for real feedback. We have to involve people with disabilities in our teams. We need to get them involved as early as possible in the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle), ideally from defining the problem stage itself. We do not know how they think or how they feel, and without knowing what they want – we will never be able to solve their problems. Therefore, it is very important to have them in our teams and equally important to get their feedback, suggestions, and inputs. This will help us to make a better world.
Accessibility is everyone’s cup of tea! 🍵
Leaders play an important role in deciding how and when accessibility testing can be done, whom to involve in testing and how the standards can be measured. Organizations and leaders must keep an eye on the accessibility standards of the product they build. Continuous monitoring or review of the standards, tools, and technologies should be done periodically and changes or revisions must be done whenever required. It is important to understand Accessibility is not just for “the disabled” but for everyone. So it will be a good idea to start defining the needs of accessibility from the organization level itself!
We all need to understand that things change over time – Standards, tools, technology, people, needs… We must keep an eye on what is around us and stay updated accordingly. Most importantly, we need to take charge of what we build, test and deliver. Ensure we build software that is right for everyone.