Accessibility Testing – Starter Kit

In this article, Garima Jain has articulated very well about the importance of Accessibility Testing, how to get started and several types of tools to be used for various testing types.

Hello! Accessibility Testing

Today, in this digital world, smartphones and web applications have become an essential part of our lives. The amount of time we spend daily interacting with our phones or laptops are enormous. But, several people in the world may not be able to access the applications normally because of some kind of disability, which makes those applications inadequate for them. A good application should be accessible by all types of users.

Accessibility testing is performed to test the usability of the applications for such kind of people and make sure no one is missed out in today’s digital world to experience the applications.

The necessity of Accessibility Testing

Around 15% of the world’s population lives with some kind of disability which can include blindness or low vision, hearing loss or deafness, inability to use the physical mouse or limited movements, speech disabilities, learning limitations or combination of any of these. 

Around 15% of the world’s population lives with some kind of disability

These people may not be able to use or interact with an application directly and require some assistive technologies to help them. Thus, making the accessibility testing an important part of the testing strategy, so that these applications can cater to such people with disabilities.

In many countries, the government has come up with legalizations, which requires any products to be accessible by disabled people. When the applications fail to meet the norms, they face violation fees and fines which can hurt a company’s reputation. 

Performing Accessibility Testing

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), has published a set of guidelines known as ‘The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These guidelines talk about the accessibility standards of web content on desktops or laptops, tablets & mobile devices. These are the standards to be followed strictly by any organisations or the product companies to make the content accessible to people with disabilities. The design, development and testing of the applications should be performed based on these guidelines. 

The guidelines can be found at https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/

These guidelines are categorized into three levels of conformance to meet the needs of different groups and different situations: 

  1. A (lowest)
  2. AA (mid-range)
  3. AAA (highest)

Conformance at higher levels indicates conformance at lower levels. For example, by conforming to AA, a Web page meets both the A and AA conformance levels. Level A sets a minimum level of accessibility and does not achieve broad accessibility for many situations. For this reason, UC recommends AA conformance for all Web-based information.

From the above guidelines, one or more tools can be utilised to meet the required success criteria of the application.

Commonly Used Accessibility Tools

Several tools can be used to test the application for the accessibility guidelines. Accessibility can be done either manually or automated. Following are some of the tools that can be used to perform accessibility testing.

Screen Readers

People with any kind of visual challenges are unable to read the content of a web page. Such people need assistive technology which can read the content displayed on a web page. 

Screen readers are the software used for narrating the content of a web page. What is on your website, text, links, radio buttons, images etc., a screen reader will narrate everything for the user. 

Some of the popular screen readers for different browsers are:

  1. Internet Explorer/Chrome: JAWS (Job Access With Speech 
  2. Firefox: NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access)
  3. Safari: Voice Ove

Following are the Screen Readers for the mobile Accessibility:

  1. iPhone: Voice Over
  2. Android: Talkback 

Speech Recognition Tools

Some people may be physically disabled in a way, such that they are unable to use a mouse or keyboard, or they may have temporary limitations, such as a broken arm. Some others may have learning or literacy disabilities such that they prefer to use voice rather than type. Speech recognition software is developed for such people.

Speech recognition software can be used to interact with the application by dictating text or commands to it. It can be used to dictate text, control buttons, links, open an application and other controls. Windows Speech Recognition, Dragon, Apple Dictation are some such software.

Screen Magnification

People with limited vision may not be able to read the page content with the normal text size. Such people need to zoom in the page to read it. A page should be designed such that it is readable and fully functional when it is zoomed to at least 200%

Keyboard Testing

People with limited hand movements may completely depend on the keyboard to operate the application or web page. User should be able to perform all the actions on a web page with the use of keyboard itself. These include navigation and interaction with different links, buttons, text areas, checkboxes etc. 

Colour Contrast Analyser

People with colour blindness may not be able to differentiate between foreground and background colour if they do not have sufficient contrast. Colour Contrast Analyser helps you to keep sufficient contrast between foreground and background colours by giving you pass/fail results.

aXe Browser Plugin

Axe is a browser plugin for Web browsers (Chrome and Firefox). It is used to scan your web page to find the accessibility defects. The axe-Chrome extension utilizes the axe open-source JavaScript library developed by Deque Systems.

Deque-Attest

Deque-Attest is an automated accessibility testing solution. It integrates into your existing testing framework and accessibility issues will simply become a part of functional issue reporting.

Accessibility is Important for Individuals, Businesses, Society

The web is becoming an increasingly important part of our lives. Equal accessibility to all ensures equal opportunities to them in all fields: day to day activities such as online payments, employment, education, healthcare etc. Access to information and communications technologies, including the Web, is defined as a basic human right in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).

Conclusion

Performing accessibility testing will help you to make your application disabled friendly, thus offering them equal rights to the digital world. 

Reviewed by Giridhar Rajkumar on 27 Dec 2019

Feature Image Credits – https://willowtreeapps.com/

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