It is well known that things change over time, like technology, tools, people, and their needs. So it is important to know what is happening around and keep oneself updated accordingly. As a developer and tester, it is your task to decide when, how, and what to build, test, and deliver which goes right for everyone.
Internet usage over the web is easy for many users, but this is not the case with all users. Based on the language, culture, location, and physical or mental ability there are different groups of people, some of them with sight, hearing, old age, movement, and cognitive disabilities.
Different disabilities can affect how one uses a site. For instance, if one has vision difficulty it becomes hard for them to see the page’s content. The same goes for trouble in hearing which means you have to consider using audio/video captions that you have posted.
Every organization wants to expand the reach of its application to a wide number of users. Yet many applications still lack their far-reaching potential. It could be due to the design or implementation of the application or due to the barrier between non-disabled users and differently-abled ones. Web applications should be designed in a way that each user, including the differently-abled, can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the application with ease.
Web accessibility helps users with diverse abilities by understanding their needs and behavior so that they can use the application without any difficulty. So an application should not differentiate among its users, it must be accessible, usable, and valuable for all no matter what limitations or disabilities they have they can access and communicate through the web without any restrictions.
If your testing strategy includes testing the accessibility of your website or application for all the users then this article is going to help you. Here you will get to know about accessibility testing and its best practices. So let’s first start with what accessibility testing is?
The web is for all and being a tester it is a must to ensure that the application is accessible to all the users. Accessibility Testing is the practice of determining and confirming the abilities of a web application to ensure that the application is effective and gives access to every single user. Checking the application’s accessibility will not only increase the user’s satisfaction but also contribute a lot to the success of a business.
It ensures that the application can be used and navigated on any platform or by as many users as possible including users with specific disabilities like vision or hearing or any other physical or cognitive conditions. This testing is also termed usability testing.
By practicing various types of accessibility testing your team can ensure that all content within your web application is reachable to anyone without any barriers. It is also to ensure that the applications are compatible with beneficial technologies, like applications with-
Speech recognition- It works as an input to the computer to translate the spoken words.
Screen reader- It reads out the visible content on the screen.
Screen magnification- it magnifies the monitor display for people with vision difficulty.
Special keyboards- It helps in typing for people having difficulty in motor control.
For accessibility testing, the World Wide Consortium(W3C) has defined Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for web accessibility. They are
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): This guideline states that the website should be user-friendly and serves its purpose for everyone. It provides accessibility testing examples so that the development team can discover ways to improve application accessibility. Moreover, one such trending aspect of web design & development in the US is to strictly follow the web accessibility checklist, to create a site that would be easily accessible to all, irrespective of their physical disabilities. Therefore, ADA website accessibility is must, here, a company like “Accessibility Spark” can be of great help in designing one such ADA & WCAG compliant site.
Rehabilitation Act, section 504, and section 508.
- Section 504: This section includes helping people with disabilities by providing workplace access, educational institutes, and other organizations.
- Section 508: This section includes establishing requirements to be met by these institutions so that individuals with disabilities get equal access to all electronic equipment and information technology.
Americans with disabilities act (ADA): The ADA rule says that all the domains, such as schools and organizations, and public buildings should make the tools that are accessible to everyone
So, it is a must to follow the above-mentioned guidelines in the design, development, and testing of the application. Along with W3C guidelines, we also have to consider technical standards and social standards as well.
Accessibility is not just for “the disabled” but for everyone. Organizations must keep an eye on the accessibility standards of the application they build. Developers and testers must decide how and when accessibility testing can be done, whom to involve in testing and how the standards can be measured. Continuous monitoring or review should be done regularly and changes or revisions must be done whenever required.
Now let’s have a look at some of the best practices for technical and social standards for testing accessibility.
Accessibility Testing Best Practices – Technical Standards
Be Careful with Color selection
Color code can make a great and exciting webpage but it may not make it user-friendly. Conveying meaning with different colors may not prove to be a good idea. People having difficulty in vision are sensitive to color. And too low or too high color contrast on the page could affect how they understand the information on the webpage.
As not everyone is able to watch or listen to videos. So transcripts are a must for any podcast on the website, and for any video, the caption is compulsory so that even people with hearing issues can enjoy watching them. These are not only helpful for the disabled one only but for everyone.
Images used on the page must have a meaningful text linked with that image, referring to it with <AltText>. Also, extensive descriptions near the Complex images should have explained summaries built right into the next paragraph. This will enable the screen-reader user to read out and understand what is the image on the screen.
Control on Add Skip Navigation Feature
If anything on the page is repeated and unimportant for the user it is a good practice to provide them with the option to skip the content to the main page. This will make the application user-friendly by letting the user free from content they do not want to or need to see. Another alternative is to provide the users with the option of “Skip Navigation” so that they can focus on the important information they need.
Forms and Tables should be properly labeled and aligned
Filling out any forms on the web must be Hassle-free which means each element of the form like boxes and information to be filled out must be labeled and structured accurately so that the overall alignment of the page is constant. This will enable the user to fill out the form easily.
Non-HTML Content Should Be Easily Accessible
For any uploaded documents on the page in Word, PDF, or other file formats make sure that the users are able to open the documents. You can even just display it as HTML if it is not possible. This will be helpful to provide different file formats to make the content accessible to everyone.
To make a PDF accessible, you must also consider using tags, it will not change any visual of the file but make it easier for users to use a screen reader.
Make the content easy
The page content is one of the most important pieces of information. It should be written in a way that is readable and understandable by everyone. This means the vocabulary should be easy for all types of users. It should not be focussing only on individuals with higher degrees. As this would leave the people who are unable to understand the content, this could affect how others use your website.
Accessibility Testing Best Practices – Social Standards
Not everyone is the same
Individual differences are commonly known, people differ in personality traits, beliefs, choices, and needs. While making the use of technology to build a website it is important to keep in mind the accessibility of the people who will be using your website despite their differences.
To ensure the acceptance of all no matter what their culture or beliefs. Some people have different perspectives and preferences in terms of using technology. The more it is accepted while designing websites, the better there will be diverse and unique individuals all over the world.
Test accessibility early
Most of the time accessibility testing is done in the exploratory test phase. This way, accessibility issues cannot be identified and fixed early. It will be a great practice if you consider executing this type of testing in your initial test cycles. This will help in identifying and resolving issues related to accessibility as early as possible.
Technology is dynamic
Technology is a wonderful way to communicate and get things done in our daily lives. It has the ability to ensure equality for all. It is ever-changing so before building a website it is important to consider who is going to use it. If accessibility standards are not kept in mind while building the website it may come as self-defeating. It can also inhibit the performance of the website if it becomes inaccessible for those with disabilities.
Real user feedback is important
There is no switch for real user feedback, involving people with disabilities in the teams will help in defining the problem stage. Without knowing how they think and what they want, it will be difficult to solve their problems. Therefore, it is helpful to have them in your teams and also equally important to get their feedback, suggestions, and inputs. This will help you to make a better real user environment.
Increase Accessibility Testing With LambdaTest
With LambdaTest, accessibility testing is a seamless and free add-on to existing test automation cycles for both web and mobile apps. This platform allows you to automate a large portion of accessibility tests for the web and reduce the overall time to run them.
It is a cloud testing platform that allows you to test the accessibility of your websites and web apps over an online browser farm of 3000+ real browsers and operating systems using Screen Reader and Speech Viewer. It has a wide range of coverage of browsers, platforms, and devices. You can also perform automated accessibility testing with Deque’s axe across various browser and OS combinations.
LambdaTest will help you to generate an accessibility test report that can help you in finding and fixing accessibility issues in advance. Faster test execution, and wide coverage with a number of browsers and devices, will improve your site’s accessibility, and boost user experience. This in turn will boost your website’s conversion rate.
Author Bio: Vixit Raj is Product Growth and Marketing Specialist in Lambda Test : The Cross Browser Web App Testing Platform. An E&C engineering background & Digital Marketing domain experience of 5+ years has aroused his interest towards learning more about latest technology advancements, product marketing, coding and testing.