What is ADA Testing Why it Matters & How to Perform

What is ADA Testing | Why it Matters & How to Perform?

“The ADA is a powerful tool for ensuring equal rights and opportunities for individuals with disabilities.” – U.S. Department of Justice.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities and ensure equal access to opportunities and services. As technology continues to evolve and play an increasingly important role in our daily lives, it is essential to ensure that digital products are accessible to all.

This blog will discuss everything you want to know about ADA testing. Hop in!

What is ADA Testing?

ADA testing evaluates digital products, such as websites and software, to ensure they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life, including employment, education, transportation, and access to public accommodations.

ADA testing is important because it helps to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to information and services online. This includes people who use assistive technologies, such as screen readers and screen magnifiers, to access the web.

There are two main types of ADA testing: manual and automated.

  • Manual ADA testing

This involves manually testing a digital product using different assistive technologies to identify accessibility issues. This process can be time-consuming, but it is the most effective way to identify all accessibility issues.

  • Automated ADA testing

This uses software tools to scan a digital product for accessibility issues. This is a faster and more efficient way to test a product, but it is important to note that automated tools cannot identify all accessibility issues.

 ADA testing can be performed by organizations in-house or by third-party vendors. There are also several free and paid ADA testing tools available online.

If you are responsible for maintaining a digital product, it is important to have it tested for ADA compliance regularly. This will help to ensure that your product is accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

Why choose ADA Tests?

Choosing the proper ADA tests is essential for ensuring equal access and inclusivity for individuals with disabilities in the digital realm. The Americans with Disabilities Act evaluates the accessibility of digital products, such as websites & software, against established standards. 

By complying with these standards, organizations can create inclusive digital experiences for all users, regardless of their abilities.

ADA tests align with the fundamental principles of equal opportunity and non-discrimination enshrined in the ADA. 

By adhering to these tests, organizations demonstrate their commitment to providing accessible and barrier-free experiences to all users, no matter what their abilities or disabilities. 

Congressman Major R. Owens, a key sponsor of the ADA, said, “We are all different, but we share the same human spirit.” 

ADA tests reflect this spirit by striving to create an inclusive digital environment where diversity is acknowledged and accommodated.

Some tips for choosing and using ADA tests effectively:

  • Select tests that are comprehensive and cover a wide range of accessibility requirements.
  • Utilize a mix of manual & automated tests to make sure that all accessibility issues are identified and fixed.
  • Engage people with disabilities in the testing process for feedback and insights.
  • Regularly review and update your testing procedures to meet evolving accessibility standards.

When to Test for ADA Compliance?

Now that you know the basics of accessibility testing, it’s time to learn when to perform it. Here are a few key times:

  • If you frequently update your website

Whenever you make significant changes, such as adding new features or redesigning the layout, you should perform an accessibility test. 

This ensures that the new changes do not introduce any new accessibility issues.

  • If you’ve never checked your site’s status before

If you’ve never had your website tested for accessibility, you should do so immediately. 

This will help you to identify and fix any accessibility issues that may be preventing people with disabilities from using your website.

  • If you receive a complaint from a user

 If you receive a complaint from a user about the accessibility of your website, 

  • you should take the complaint seriously and 
  • investigate the issue. 

You may need to perform an accessibility test to identify and fix the problem’s cause.

What Are the Requirements for ADA-compliance?

In software testing, meeting ADA compliance requirements is determined by following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. 

The WCAG 2.1 guidelines are divided into four regulations:

  • Perceivable: Users must be able to sense information and user interface components.
  • Operable: It is essential that all user interface components and navigation are functional.
  • Understandable: Details and the operation of user interface components must be legible.
  • Robust: The content should be able to be reliably analyzed by various user agents, including those that assist users with disabilities.

To comply with the ADA, software testers must ensure that all software products comply with the WCAG 2.1 guidelines. 

This includes testing the software for a variety of accessibility issues, such as:

  • Alternative text for images: All images must have alternative text that describes the image. This is to make images accessible to people with vision impairments.
  • Keyboard navigation: All software should be operable with a keyboard to enable usage by people unable to use a mouse.
  • Color contrast: All text and other content must have sufficient color contrast to be visible to people with color blindness.
  • Audio and video transcripts: All audio and video content must have transcripts or captions. This is so that people who are deaf or hard of hearing can still access the content.

Also, software testers should consider the following when testing for ADA compliance:

  • Use various assistive technologies: Many different assistive technologies are available, so it is essential to test software with various assistive technologies to ensure that it is accessible to everyone.
  • Engage people with disabilities in the testing process: The best way to ensure that software is accessible to people with disabilities is to engage people with disabilities in the testing process. This will help to identify any accessibility issues that testers without disabilities may not have recognized.

How do you know if you need ADA compliance testing?

You need ADA compliance testing if you operate a public accommodation, a business, or an organization serving the public. 

This includes industries such as 

  • restaurants, 
  • hotels, 
  • retail stores, and 
  • healthcare providers. 

It also includes government agencies and educational institutions.

If you operate a public accommodation, you must ensure that your website and other digital products are accessible to people with disabilities. 

Your website must comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, a set of norms for creating web content accessible to people with disabilities.

You can determine if you need ADA compliance testing by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Am I operating a public accommodation?
  • Is my website open to the public?
  • Do I accept payments online?
  • Do I provide services online?
  • Do I sell products online?

If you answered Yes to any of these questions, you need ADA compliance testing!

How do you test your website for ADA compliance?

To test your website for ADA compliance, you can use manual testing, automated testing, or a combination of both.

Manual ADA Compliance Testing

Manual ADA compliance testing involves testing your website using different assistive technologies like screen readers and magnifiers. This is the most effective way to identify all accessibility issues, but it can be time-consuming.

To perform manual ADA compliance testing, you can follow these steps:

  1. Identify the assistive technologies that you will use to test your website.
  2. Set up your website and assistive technologies.
  3. Navigate through your website using the assistive technologies.
  4. Identify any accessibility issues that you encounter.
  5. Fix the accessibility issues that you identified.

Automated ADA Compliance Testing

Automated ADA compliance testing uses software tools to scan your website for accessibility problems. This is a faster and more efficient way to test your website, but it is important to note that automated tools cannot identify all accessibility issues.

You can use software tools like WAVE, Lighthouse, and aXe to perform automated ADA compliance testing. These tools will scan your website and generate a report that lists any accessibility issues that they found.

Once you have generated an accessibility report, you should manually review the report to ensure that all accessibility issues have been identified and fixed.

How Often I Should Perform ADA Compliance Testing?

The testing frequency will vary depending on several factors, including the size and complexity of your digital presence, how often it is updated, and the level of risk associated with non-compliance.

Here is a general guideline for ADA compliance testing frequency:

  • Initial Assessment: Conduct a complete ADA compliance assessment during a digital asset’s initial development or redesign.
  • Ongoing Quarterly Audits: Perform thorough ADA compliance audits at least quarterly to identify any new issues or changes that may have affected accessibility.
  • After Significant Updates: Conduct ADA compliance testing after making substantial changes or updates to your digital assets, such as significant redesigns or feature enhancements.
  • Following Platform Updates: Test for ADA compliance whenever the underlying platform (e.g., CMS, frameworks) is updated to ensure continued accessibility.
  • After User Feedback: Conduct ADA compliance testing after receiving feedback from users, especially those with disabilities, to address identified issues promptly.
  • New Content or Features: Test ADA compliance when adding new content, features, or functionalities to your digital asset to verify accessibility.
  • Pre-launch and Pre-release: Perform ADA compliance testing before launching a new digital asset or releasing updates to ensure adherence to accessibility standards.
  • Accessibility Checklists: Regularly refer to ADA compliance checklists and perform tests to ensure ongoing compliance with the established standards.
  • Regulatory Changes: Stay informed about any changes in ADA guidelines or related regulations, and conduct ADA compliance testing to align with the updated requirements.
  • User Testing: Incorporate accessibility considerations into user testing, gathering insights from individuals with diverse abilities to identify areas for improvement.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Implement continuous monitoring tools or automated solutions that provide real-time feedback on ADA compliance, allowing immediate remediation of any detected issues.
  • Training and Awareness: Regularly educate development and design teams about ADA compliance standards and best practices to integrate accessibility principles into their workflows effectively.

By following these guidelines and adjusting the testing frequency based on your specific context, you can maintain a high level of ADA compliance and ensure an inclusive digital experience for all users.

What are the Consequences of Having a Website that is Not ADA-Compliant?

ADA website compliance is substantial because it ensures that all have equal access to information and services online. Individuals with disabilities use many assistive technologies to access the web. Those can be screen readers, screen magnifiers, and voice commands. If a website is not ADA-compliant, it may be difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to use.

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 dilated the definition of “disability” and made it clear that companies must take steps to ensure that their websites are unrestricted to people with disabilities.

Failing to make your website ADA-compliant can have serious consequences. You could be sued by an individual with a disability, or the Department of Justice could take action against you.

There are several things you can do to make your website ADA-compliant. Some basic steps include:

  • Providing alternative text for images
  • Using clear and concise language
  • Avoiding unnecessary graphics and animations
  • Make sure your website is keyboard-navigable

You can also use many tools and resources to help you make your website ADA-compliant. 

Here are some tools listed below that help with ADA compliance.

ADA Compliance testing tools

Here are some tools that can help you with ADA website testing:

  1. Color contrast tools help us to measure the contrast ratio between text and its background. This ensures that the text is legible and easy to read for visually impaired people. 

Some popular color contrast tools include:

  1. Color Contrast Analyzer
  2. WAVE
  3. Tenon
  4. Axe Dev Tools
  1. Screen reader tools: These tools help test the accessibility of websites & digital content for users who rely on screen readers. 

A few screen reader tools are:

  1. JAWS (Job Access With Speech)
  2. NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access)
  3. VoiceOver
  4. Orca
  1. Alt tag checker tools: This checker helps you make sure that all images on a website have appropriate alternative text. And also, the Alt tag describes the image meaningfully and accurately. 

Here are some alt-tag checker tools:

  1. WAVE
  2. Tenon
  3. Axe Dev Tools

You have to know some general-purpose web accessibility testing tools. These can be used to test for a broader range of accessibility issues. They are:

  • WAVE
  • Tenon
  • Axe Dev Tools
  • Google Lighthouse
  • Siteimprove


Ensuring everyone can access websites online is essential, especially for people with disabilities. The ADA is there to help stop discrimination against them when they try to use the web. 

To ensure your website follows these guidelines, testing it out regularly is important. You can do this using manual and automated methods to help you keep things compliant while being mindful of your budget and time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Some Examples of Accessibility Features that an ADA-Compliant Website Should Have?

Some examples of accessibility features that an ADA-compliant website should have include:

  • Alternative text for images: This allows screen readers to describe the images to visually impaired users.
  • Clear and concise language: Avoid jargon or technical terms that all users may not understand.
  • Keyboard navigation: Users should be able to navigate the website using their keyboard only if they cannot use a mouse.
  • Color contrast: The text on the website should be in high contrast with the background to make it easy to read for people with visual impairments.
  • Screen reader compatibility: The website should be compatible with popular screen reader software.

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