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Accessibility Testing: Examples, Tools & Myths

Michael Morales  -  April 2, 2022  -  , ,  

Accessibility testing is described as a kind of software testing. It is ensured that an application will be usable by people with disabilities such as hearing impairments, color blindness, old age, and other disadvantaged groups. The term refers to a subset of Usability Testing.

Software products can be operated more effectively by people with disabilities when they use assistive technology. Some examples include:

  • Speech Recognition Software: This software converts spoken words into text, which the computer uses as input.
  • Screen reader software: A software that reads the text shown on a screen.
  • Screen Magnification Software: This software makes reading easier for visually impaired users by enlarging the screen. 
  • A special keyboard is designed for easy typing for users with motor control difficulties.

Why Accessibility Testing?

The following are some reasons why Accessibility Testing is important:

Reason 1: Cater To Market For Disabled People

Nearly 20% of the population suffers from disabilities.

  • There is a severe disability in one out of ten people.
  • People over 65 have lowered capabilities in one out of two cases.

The term "disability" covers blindness, deafness, handicapped, and any type of physical disorder.

Making a software product disabled-friendly and accessible could cater to this huge market. Software accessibility problems can be fixed if Accessibility Testing is incorporated into the software testing life cycle.

Reason 2: Abide By Accessibility Legislations

Government agencies around the world have enacted legislation requiring that IT products be accessible to people with disabilities. 

Here are some of the legal acts passed by various governments:

Accessibility Testing is essential for ensuring legal compliance.

Reason 3: Avoid Potential Lawsuits

Previously, there have been lawsuits filed against Fortune 500 companies for not making their products accessible for the disabled. Some prominent cases can be found below:

In order to avoid potential lawsuits, it's best to design products that support disabled users.

How To Do Accessibility Testing?

There are two ways to perform accessibility testing:

  1. Manual
  2. Automated

The following points need to be checked for an application to be accessible for all users. Check out this checklist before signing off on accessibility testing.

  1. Is there a keyboard equivalent for every mouse operation and window in an application?
  2. If instructions are available as part of the user manual or documentation? Is the documentation helpful in understanding and operating the application?
  3. Are the tabs arranged logically to allow smooth navigation?
  4. Does the menu provide shortcut keys?
  5. Is the application compatible with all operating systems?
  6. Does each screen or page clearly indicate the response time, so End Users know how long they will need to wait?
  7. Is every label in the application correctly written?
  8. Does the color of the application suit all users?
  9. How well are images or icons being used in order to be easily understood by the users?
  10. Does the application have audio alerts?
  11. If a user has access to audio or video controls?
  12. Does a user have the option of overriding the default fonts when printing and displaying text?
  13. Do users have the option to disable flashing, rotating, or moving displays?
  14. Always ensure that color-coding is not the only way to convey information or indicate actions.
  15. Can highlighting be viewed with inverted colors? Change the contrast ratio to test the color in the application.
  16. Can people with disabilities hear audio and video content properly? Test all multimedia content on websites without speakers.
  17. Is training available to users with disabilities so that they can learn how to use the software or application?

Accessibility testing may pose challenges to testers due to their lack of familiarity with disabilities. The best approach is to work with people who have specific disabilities to understand their needs better.

Examples Of Accessibility Testing

Tests for accessibility can be performed in a variety of ways, depending on the disability. Let's look at them all one by one.

1) Vision Disability

Now let's suppose I don't have vision ability. As a blind individual, I need to visit the XYZ website. What are my options here?

Screen Reader can be referred to as a one-word option. Now, what exactly is a Screen Reader? 

It is a software program used to narrate the content on the web. Screen Reader narrates whatever is on your website, including content, links, radio buttons, images, videos, etc. You can do it through a number of software applications. JAWS is one of them. 

As soon as you launch JAWS or any screen reader and then visit the website, it will narrate the entire content. If you enter something or place a text in the text box, the screen reader will narrate it word-by-word. 

If there is a link, it will be pronounced as a link, and if there is a button, it will be pronounced as a button. In this way, Blind people will be able to recognize things easily.

It is possible that JAWS will be unable to narrate correct content on a poorly designed and developed site, resulting in inaccessibility for Blind people.

2) Visual Impairment

Under visual impairment, two categories must be mentioned. One of them is color blindness. Color Blindness refers to not being completely blind but having difficulty seeing some specific colors. 

Red and blue are the most common colors that people with color blindness find difficult to see. For example, if I have color blindness to Red and wish to visit a website with 80% Red, would I feel comfortable using that site? Definitely not.

Therefore, it is necessary to design a website in a way that users with color blindness have no problem using it. 

Let's look at an example of a button that is in red. In order to make it accessible, if it is outlined in black, it is easy to recognize. Typically, black and white are neutral colors.

3) Poor Vision Disability

Another visual impairment category is someone who has a poor vision (not clear vision) or has different eyesight problems resulting in a need for assistance accessing any website.

Small text is best avoided in such cases. Otherwise, it would be very difficult for people with impaired vision to read it. Additionally, people with vision problems may need to zoom the text of websites so that they can read them comfortably. 

Therefore, websites need to be designed in such a way that their layout does not break when zooming in on the text. Otherwise, it will not be a good experience for disabled users.

4) Other Disabilities

A major aspect of accessibility testing for disabled audiences is ensuring that the website can be accessed without the need for a mouse. All controls should be easily accessible and functional from the keyboard, including website links, radio buttons, checkboxes, pop-ups, and dropdowns.

As an example, if I am paralyzed on my right hand, and I am uncomfortable using a mouse, or if I don't want to use a mouse, then what? Therefore, a website needs to be fully accessible with Keyboard.

There should be alternative text for images, audio, and video so that the screen reader can read and narrate it to the blind, and the user can easily understand the meaning of the image, audio, and video. 

Additionally, keyboard shortcuts need to be available for easy access to websites, and navigation should be possible with the keyboard.

The focus should also be visible. It is important that the user can see where the control moves as they press the tab. Visual focus makes it easy for a user with poor vision or color blindness to understand the flow of a site and access it easily.

5) Hearing Disability: 

People with hearing disabilities are the last ones. A deaf user can access the website since he can see the content. There are, however, difficulties with audio and video. 

In that case, there would need to be Alternative text for both video and audio. Consider a video on booking an airline ticket. There should be text included in the video so that a deaf person can read it and understand what the video is all about.

Accessibility Testing Tools:

Accessibility is the key to making your website more appealing and user-friendly. There are several tools that can assess the accessibility of your website.

The following are some of the most popular accessibility testing tools:

1) Wave

Wave is an accessibility tool provided for free by WebAIM. Web pages can be tested manually for different aspects of accessibility using Wave. You can use this tool to check intranets, password-protected pages, dynamically generated pages, or sensitive pages.

The Web Accessibility Toolbar is primarily used to identify webpage components, provide an alternative presentation of page content, and facilitate the use of third-party online applications. A 100% secure and private accessibility reporting system is provided.

2) TAW

TAW is an online tool that determines your website's accessibility. The tool analyzes a website and shows accessibility problems based on W3C accessibility guidelines.

Web accessibility issues are divided into three priority categories: priority 1, priority 2, and priority 3. TAW has the interesting capability of generating subsets of WCAG 1.0 to test against. 

TAW allows you to test one page or multiple pages by "spidering" a website. Additionally, Taw makes it possible to define additional checks through the "User Checking" dialog box.

3) Accessibility Developer Tools

This tool has an extension available for Chrome. It performs an accessibility audit. The report of the audit identifies accessibility standards violated by the Page Under Test. Accessibility Developer Tool extension has high ratings and is regularly updated.

4) Quick Accessibility Page Tester

Since many excellent accessibility toolbars are available, you can use Quick Page Accessibility Tester to get a quick read-through of any web page. 

It will help you identify various issues with your page, notify you of any potential problems, and highlight areas of your page that might benefit from ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications).

5) aDesigner

aDesigner is a tool designed by IBM that simulates visually impaired people’s experiences so that the designers can better understand the needs of the people with disabilities and design applications accordingly.

6) WebAnywhere

It's a browser-based tool that is similar to screen readers such as Jaws. It helps readers comprehend the contents of web pages.

7) Web Accessibility Toolbar

An extension for Internet Explorer or Opera that provides web page designers with useful features for analyzing web pages. One of the best features of WAT is the Greyscale feature, which allows you to find low contrast areas in the design.

Myths Of Accessibility Testing:

Here are some myths about accessibility testing:

  1. Myth: It is expensive to create an accessible website.

The process is not expensive. Take some time to consider accessibility during the design and testing stages. Taking this step will save time and money.

  1. Myth: Changing inaccessible websites to accessible ones can take a lot of time and money.

All the changes do not need to be incorporated at once. Focus on the needs that are most important for disabled users.

  1. Myth: Accessibility is boring and dull.

In order to be accessible, a page does not have to be text-only. Web pages can be attractive; however, they should be designed in a way that all users can access them. 

Moreover, in accordance with W3C web content accessibility guidelines, text-only pages are strongly discouraged.

  1. Myth: Accessibility is for the disabled and blind only.

As a result of following accessibility guidelines, the software is more readable and usable, thereby benefiting regular users too. 

Conclusion:

The Accessibility testing process ensures your application is accessible to people with disabilities. If you are unable to follow accessibility guidelines because of the complexity of the web application, make a version of the website for regular users and another for users with disabilities. 

Would you like to know the Dos and Don’ts of App Development and Marketing for Entrepreneurs? Read our blog to find out. 

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