As we all know, Technology, particularly the web has introduced new worlds for everyone who uses it. But have you ever given a thought about how the capability to access technology influences the lives of those with special needs?
Imagine a person is blind yet he/she is able to read, not capable to speak or hear yet can chat online or being completely paralyzed but still could travel the world? Technology has made it all possible for those with special needs, inspiring their lives in ways they never imagined.
According to WHO 15% of the population in 2015 had a disability and half of these reported a major disability and therefore importance of accessibility testing will continue to grow. So, testers, welcome to the new world of accessibility testing which is bigger and better than ever before.
These days special technologies are used by people with special needs including screen readers; screen magnification software; speech recognition software; and special keyboards for work, personal fulfillment and communication yet all websites are not user friendly to these users.
Accessibility testing is defined as a subcategory of usability testing that is geared toward users of all disabilities and abilities. The aim of this testing is to check not only accessibility but usability too.
What is Accessibility Testing & Why does accessibility matter?
As per the definition, Accessibility testing is the practice of testing mobile and web apps for ease of use for maximum audiences, including people with any disabilities related to visual or hearing impairment as well as other cognitive conditions.
As long as it is concerned with the fact why it matters, accessibility testing allows to quickly identify any issues that might bother audiences. It is meant to create better of the best while offering the convenience and compliance on the applications.
Need for Accessibility Testing
Since web is for everyone, irrespective of any disabilities or physical differences, accessibility testing allows to create solutions that work for all. Either blind, handicapped, or other disabilities, Accessibility testing when paired with the Software Testing Life Cycle allows create solutions for every user out there, literally.
Even the government and compliance laws encourage the development of products that are easily accessible making accessible solutions a legal right and not a choice. This process usually works by checking on usability factors while working on challenges that users with auditory, cognitive, motor, speech, and visual disabilities could face.
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How To Perform Accessibility Testing?
Though accessibility testing could be fostered through both automation and manual testing practices, sticking to manual testing makes the test process more defined.
Actually, Manual testing is one of the safest techniques to decide the accessibility of a web page. The accuracy of the results exclusively depends on the knowledge of the tester. The process includes a detailed understanding of the client-side code.
This code can be viewed in most web browsers. The tester checks the, reviews the code and page structure where it is necessary. With the help of Manual testing tester can find accessibility problems which cannot be found programmatically. For example, a testing tool can conclude if an image has expressive text associated to it but during manual testing it is possible to decide if the description gives enough information about the image. Manual testing needs an accurate systematic overview specifically in case of larger sites making sure that all elements and pages are covered.
As usability testing focuses on the users, this means not only the users with various severities and disabilities but also those with limited reading ability, color blindness, infrastructure, limited computer literacy, equipment and access. We should look for standards to check legal requirements that must be satisfied as well as what to measure. However, the World Wide Web Consortium(W3C) which is the main international standards organization for the internet has made a guideline for making web data accessible to people with disabilities.
When it comes to importance of accessibility testing as a part of development and testing lifecycle, manual testing of accessibility needs extensive functional verification. These include so many validations of the system, including:
The manual accessible testing involves ample verification of web pages UI, along with the functional verification. In manual accessibility, we need to make sure that the following validations get done in your system.
Since exploring all of these details can be consuming, aligning your web application with the accessibility standards could be done using accessibility checker, JAWS, Sortsite, and Waves.
Four Principles of WCAG
No matter, what practices we choose to check the accessibility of a web application, there are certain standards defined by the government that are required to be followed. These include BITV 1.0, W3C’s WCAG 1.0/WCAG 2.0, Section 508, etc. Out of which WCAG 2.0 are followed throughout the globe. The four major principles of WCAG include:
The first principle of WCAG needs testers to ensure the navigation and user interface are aligned well. The purpose is to work on offering an accessibility to a user that has any disability. For instance, a magnified view of the page should never go out of defined layout making the text field and button bring inconvenience to the user.
All the information must be presented well to the user without affecting the interface. This means creating websites or applications that are not invisible to any of the user senses. For instance, the use of the light-colored on the light-colored background could make it difficult for people with partial blindness to explore.
The next thing that you need to accomplish to align with WCAG guidelines is the robustness of content. This refers to quick and easy interpretation of the content for all the assistive technology used by the users with disabilities. This can be compatibility of screen readers with browser versions to ensure blind users never struggle accessing web.
Last but not least, the operations and information should be understandable for the users to lead the UI operations. For instance, offering breaks or pauses or signals that could help blind and deaf users to actions at the right time to understand the information and take the action.
Web Accessibility Testing
Web accessibility testing means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More precisely, Web accessibility means that people having different disabilities can understand, perceive, interact and navigate with the Web and that they can also add to the Web.
Web accessibility is also beneficial to others including older people with varying abilities due to aging. That’s why Web Accessibility testing is so important these days. Web accessibility testing is performed using different tools like WAVE, Eval Access 2.0, FAE (Functionality Accessibility Evaluator), The Color Contrast Analyzer etc.
Web Accessibility testing confirms that people with disabilities will be able to use the system. Accessibility Testing makes products usable across millions of people who have one or multiple types of disabilities and helps to fulfill legal requirements.
The key principle of Web accessibility is designing software and Web sites that are flexible to meet different user preferences, situations and needs. This flexibility also benefits people without disabilities in assured situations such as people with "temporary disabilities" such as a broken arm, people using a slow Internet connection etc.
The Web is a progressively important resource in many aspects of life: employment, education, commerce, government, recreation, health care and more. It is necessary that the Web should be accessible in order to give equal opportunity and equal access to people with disabilities. An accessible Web can also benefit people with disabilities so that they can more actively participate in society.
The Web offers the possibility of full access to interaction and information for many people who are disable. That is, the accessibility barriers to audio, visual media and print can be easily overcome through Web technologies.
With each passing day, the web is assuming greater meaning in our lives, be it e-payments, e-commerce, social media, e-paper, Internet banking etc. So, it becomes significant to make available all information technology and electronic tools to everyone, especially for people with some kind of disabilities.
Benefits of Web Accessibility Testing
Web accessibility testing offers so many benefits when it comes to organizations, as well as users. However, talking more specifically, some of the most significant benefits of accessibility testing for web include:
- Resisting any web compliance issues, discrimination, and legal issues.
- Web accessibility testing allows expanding the reach to a bigger audience.
- It reflects the values and belief of an organization thus allowing improved PR.
- A well-optimized website that offers accessibility value to the users is likely to do well with SEO.
- Web accessibility is directly associated with usability and therefore testing for accessibility naturally makes your application more useful for the audience.
- When you have accessibility in mind, the designed applications tend to offer greater value and quality on code writing.
Myths about Accessibility Testing
Let’s have a look at the myths that are popular about the accessibility testing:
Accessibility Testing is Expensive
As I mentioned this line in the section which is categorized in the myths section, you are not in a delusion that it is a fact. On the contrary, accessibility testing will save your money which you might end up wasting for rework if you didn’t conduct accessibility testing.
It is Plain and Boring
Well, again, it is not a fact. You can easily make your web pages attractive and fun once accessibility testing is done. There is a huge potential when you choose accessibility testing for your web app or website. Trying new possibilities are always fun and interactive.
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