What is Accessibility Testing?
Accessibility testing is testing of the applications to verify if the application is accessible and usable by all the people, including people with disabilities. 15% of the world’s population have some form of disability (visual, auditory, speech, physical, language, cognitive etc). This gives every organization a need to perform the accessibility testing of all the applications to have a better reach, even amongst the people who have cognitive, motor, visual, or hearing impairments to some extent.
What to Test?
There are many aspects that have to be tested as a part of accessibility testing. Some of them are keyboard navigations, color contrast, screen reader support etc. One should also ensure that the application is compliant to standards of accessibility such as W3C’s WCAG 1.0/WCAG 2.0, BITV 1.0, Section 508 and Stanca Act, ADA etc. out of which Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Section 508, ADA (American Disabilities Act) are most commonly used for checking the website compliance. Although all aim to make the information available to the people with disabilities, each one is different. For instance, WCAG is the ISO standard set of guidelines for website accessibility, 508 is for compliance to federal law, and ADA is for civil rights law.
The aim of WCAG 2.0 is to make the application easily accessible for users with disabilities, to increase the company market share by attracting the crowd, and to make the application available for the users irrespective of low-bandwidth and across regions. WCAG is organized on four principles and the content must be POUR – Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. They are the standards for the application to be accessible and following these standards and guidelines help the application to be more reachable and successful in the market.
Manual and Automation Testing
Accessibility testing can be done by both manual, as well as, automation testing. Extensive testing of individual pages and functionalities needs to be performed. However, there are a few aspects that require manual intervention.
- Keyboard based accessibility: This can be performed using automated tests. The key is to ensure all the components of the screen can be reached through keyboard strokes including complex menus, sliders, dialogs, tab panels, etc.
- Screen Readers: There are tools that are available in the market to perform screen reading testing. These tools access the DOM (Document Object Model), and browser APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to get the information and announce the information that is present on the screen. Tools like ChromeVox, NVDA, JAWS, VoiceOver help in performing effective screen reading accessibility testing in appropriate browsers.
- High contrast mode: Low vision users have sensitivity to light hence high contrast mode is being applied to effectively use the computer. When high contrast mode is turned on, Windows changes the foreground and background colors, thereby making all backgrounds as black and all foreground texts as either white or yellow or any other brighter color of the user’s choice. There are tools like Color Contrast Analyser and Total Validator which can be used for performing this testing as well. There are instances where manual testing plays a crucial role in this, for instance, if a page has a dark background, say blue, and an input field is present which has a white background. Now, when high contrast mode is turned on in Windows, the background of the page and the input field by default change to black. This makes the input field invisible as there is no border after the high contrast is turned on.
- Media accessibility: Media accessibility benefits the people with low vision, people with hearing problems, and users with cognitive disabilities. In order to test the application for media accessibility, testers ensure that the media in the application under test (AUT) has options for captions, transcripts, and options to turn on and off.
- Accessibility compliance check: Tools like DYNO Mapper, Accessibility Checker, AChecker etc help to perform compliance checks against various guidelines like WCAG, W3C, Section 508 etc. AChecker is an open-source software.
Benefits of Accessibility Testing
Accessibility testing has various benefits, some of which are
- Reaching a wider audience: It makes sure that the application is accessible for all people, even with disabilities.
- Improves SEO: Making the application accessible has a positive impact on improving SEO and sales. Applications with easier navigation and cleaner interfaces help in improving the bounce rate.
- Enhances brand image: By ensuring that the application is accessible to all users, an organization is generating positive PR as it has shown the need and importance for accommodating people with disabilities.
Accessibility testing should be made a part of the regular software testing process as the industry is moving towards improving customer experience. The methodologies to perform accessibility testing may vary based on organization and application requirements. However, the focus on making the applications accessible should never be missed.
If you are looking for any testing related solutions, XTIVIA’s Testing Center of Excellence is available to help you out with your projects.