testsigma
Topics

Accessibility Testing | What it is, How to Perform & Tools

Make sure your digital product reaches everyone! Accessibility testing can identify and remove barriers for users with disabilities. Learn how to run tests and discover helpful tools to create a more inclusive user experience.
header-banner-image

Accessibility Testing!…. What is it? 

The internet has drastically altered how we connect, work, and live. Compared to a large library, the internet allows you to engage with people and find various fascinating stuff. What if some people could not access these resources? Thanks to accessibility testing, all people may access and use digital items, no matter what their abilities are.

Regardless of any disabilities someone may have, such as visual, hearing, cognitive, or movement challenges, the primary goal of accessibility testing is to make sure that everyone can use and enjoy your products. 

We will discuss everything about Accessibility Testing on this page.

What is Accessibility Testing?

Accessibility testing is a method used in software testing to test how user-friendly a software program is for people with physical disabilities. 

It ensures that physically impaired people can access any new component, notwithstanding corresponding disabilities. Comparable to usability testing, accessibility testing is a step in the system testing process. 

The tester uses the system or component in the accessibility testing as people with disabilities would. People may be born with non-functioning organs, vision, hearing, or learning problems, among other disorders.

Encouraging everyone to use the software, especially those who depend on technological aids, is the aim. 

Some of the essential components of accessibility testing are:

  1. Ensuring screen reader compatibility allows blind or impaired users to read all content using screen readers. Also, making sure that all functions can be accessed via the keyboard is vital for users who cannot use a mouse. 
  2. Color Contrast: Creating enough contrast between text and backdrop colors to make material readable for those with visual impairments, such as color blindness.
  3. Resizability: Users can scale text up to 200% without losing content or functionality.
  4. Non-text content can be converted into different formats. Those include
    • large print,
    • Braille,
    • Voice,
    • symbols, or 
    • simplified language,

to meet users’ needs, use text alternatives like alt text for images. 

  1. Captions and Transcripts: Give captions for videos and transcripts for audio content to aid users with hearing impairments.
  2. Time-Based Media: Offering alternative options for time-based media, like providing video descriptions.
  3. Forms and Controls: Make sure forms are accessible, with labeled inputs and clear instructions.
  4. Error Identification and Suggestions: Ensuring errors are identified and providing suggestions for correcting them.

Why Accessibility Testing?

There are many factors involved in using accessibility testing. The following are some main causes: 

  • It is morally correct to say that everybody is entitled to equal opportunity and access to information. Testing for accessibility ensures that no one, including those with disabilities, is left out of the digital world.
  • It benefits your business: You can reach a larger pool of potential clients by making your items more accessible. Individuals with disabilities constitute a substantial and expanding population segment.
  • It’s the law: In some of the countries, there are laws for websites and digital products to comply with many regulations.

Web Accessibility Testing Key Features:

1. Contrasting color combinations: Webs’ text color and backdrop color should contrast well. Links, icons, buttons, and any other content on the page fall under this category.

2. Using Plain English in Writing: In the UK, 9 is the typical reading age in the UK. The most excellent way to ensure your material gets read by most people is to write it in simple, straightforward English. Fewer individuals can comprehend dense literature with jargon, acronyms, and sophisticated terminology. For those needing help understanding the implied meaning, metaphors and figures of speech can also be perplexing. Your content will be easier for everyone if you use plain English.

3. Videos with closed captions: All spoken words and audio in videos are described in closed captions. Closed captions and subtitles are frequently confused, but they differ somewhat. Similar to how subtitles offer a written alternative, closed captions also include additional pertinent audio from the video, such as “door knocks.”

Closed caption is an excellent example of an accessibility feature that benefits disabled and non-disabled users.

4. Navigation via keyboard only: A basic accessibility rule is ensuring your website is set up for keyboard-only navigation. Anyone who uses assistive technology, such as a screen reader, to browse websites is impacted. This covers various individuals with cognitive, sensory, or motor impairments.

Why Is Web Accessibility Important?

Web accessibility is important because the internet has to be accessible to everyone for individuals with impairments to have equal opportunities and access online the growing number of areas of our lives, including education, work, govt, business, medical services, entertainment, and more, rely on the Web and the Internet as a whole. Web accessibility helps people with disabilities participate more actively in society online.

Making your site accessible will ensure that most of your intended consumers those who are disabled—have a positive browsing experience and can quickly access your content. You may make the site user-friendly by applying accessibility best practices.

Additionally, having an accessible site is frequently one of the simplest methods to negotiate deals with several individuals with disabilities, such as those who struggle to read print, access physical stores or malls, and others. Additionally, the principles you employ for accessibility overlap with those for mobile Web design, accessibility, and SEO (SEO).

Purpose & Goals of Accessibility Testing

Through accessibility testing, developers can find and address problems that could make it difficult for users with cognitive, motor, visual, or aural disabilities to use their programs efficiently.

The main goals of accessibility testing are:

Purpose of Accessibility Testing

In essence, accessibility testing helps create applications that are user-friendly and accessible to everyone, making technology more inclusive and equitable.

When should Accessibility Testing be Done?

Accessibility testing is a cross-country marathon!

It starts at the very beginning of development and continues throughout the entire project lifecycle. We can integrate accessibility into development more easily by proactively addressing possible obstacles, reducing expensive rework, and producing a masterpiece that is both user-friendly and accessible on digital platforms. 

In the end, this results in a more accessible and user-friendly digital product that everyone can enjoy while also saving time and resources.

Here are the main steps to consider: 

  1. Planning and Design: Accessibility should be a fundamental principle from the beginning. During the planning and design phases, it is necessary to examine a wide range of user needs.
  2. Development and Coding: The best practices should be applied during development itself to avoid extensive rework afterward. This could entail following the appropriate code structure and integrating accessibility features from the start.
  3. Content Creation: Proper use of headings, alternate text descriptions for images, and clear language are just a few of the components that should be included when producing material according to accessibility rules.
  1. Automated Testing: Throughout the process, such as missing alt text or incorrect color contrast can be found with automated testing tools.
  1. Manual Testing: In order to assess the product’s usability and spot potential problems that automated tools could overlook, human testers with disabilities should be involved.
  2. Monitoring After Launch: After launch, accessibility testing shouldn’t end. To find and fix any new accessibility obstacles that appear, routinely track user feedback and carry out audits. Accessibility testing should continue after the launch to address any new accessibility barriers.

What are the Four Principles of Accessibility Testing?

When creating a website or app, imagine that you want everyone to be able to use it with ease, regardless of skill level. Testing for accessibility can help with that! Here’s how it functions by adhering to these four main concepts:

  1. Making Things Clear: Is it possible for people to see and hear what is happening? This includes making sure items can be magnified for those with low vision, providing alternative language descriptions for photos, and maintaining high color contrast.
  2. Usable for All (Operable): Is your product capable of being used by all? Ensuring compatibility with the keyboard, screen reader, or other technological aids is part of this task. It also entails staying away from activities like time-based challenges, which could be challenging for someone who needs more time.
  3. Easy to Follow (Understandable): Is your information simple to read and comprehend? This includes saying things logically; your website or app has a logical and consistent structure.
  4. Robust Future-Proof Flexibility: Is the product compatible with different devices? This makes sure that the product you created is still accessible with newly created products. 

What are the Types of Accessibility Testing?

There are four kinds of accessibility testing to provide accessibility for people of all abilities and keep up ADA compliance:

1. Automation of Testing:

Begin with test automation, which rapidly reveals the easiest issues to fix and accessibility issues to improve. But since automated testing excludes interpretability and can overlook crucial accessibility concerns, it might not be sufficient to avert litigation or assist users of all abilities.

2. Reviewing manual codes:

According to UsableNet, 100% of the recently modified WCAG 2.1 criteria for success and over 80% of the WCAG 2.0 standards call for manual assessment. The HTML, CSS, and Javascript are examined by real individuals with WCAG design review experience and knowledge to ensure they adhere to the standards.

3. User Testing:

User testing allows actual users with disabilities, such as those who regularly use screen reader technology, to certify that your site is useable for them, as opposed to manual code review, which verifies that your site complies with WCAG.

4. Review of the user experience (UX):

Examining larger site design components as part of a UX evaluation is necessary to check for accessibility and usability. The following aspects are examined during a UX review:

  • Visual structure 
  • Logical page layout 
  • Menu functioning 
  • Button size

People with low vision, mobility, or cognitive disabilities will find this method to be especially beneficial for native apps.

Accessibility Testing Use Cases

Accessibility testing isn’t just a box to tick; it’s about building bridges in the digital landscape, ensuring everyone can seamlessly navigate and enjoy the web. But how does it translate into real-world scenarios? 

The below image shows some captivating use cases that showcase the power of accessibility testing:

Accessibility Testing Use Cases

These are just a glimpse into the vast world of accessibility testing use cases. By integrating accessibility into every step of the development process, we can ensure everyone has the opportunity to thrive in the digital landscape. 

Accessibility Testing Examples

Some of the general examples that will explain accessibility testing include:

1. Color Contrast:

  • Description: People with visual impairments may have difficulty seeing text if the contrast between the text color and background color is low.
  • Test: Use a color contrast checker tool to ensure there is sufficient contrast between text and background colors.
Color Contrast

2. Alternative Text for Images:

  • Description: Screen readers cannot interpret images. Without alternative text (alt text), users who rely on screen readers will miss out on the information conveyed by the image.
  • Test: Ensure all images have descriptive alt text that accurately conveys the content of the image.

3. Keyboard Navigation:

  • Description: Some users may not be able to use a mouse. Keyboard navigation allows users to tab through elements on a webpage and interact with them using the keyboard.
  • Test: Use only the keyboard to navigate through all interactive elements on the webpage, ensuring everything is accessible and functional.
Keyboard Navigation

4. Captions and Transcripts for Videos:

  • Description: People who are unable to hear or are hard of hearing rely on captions or transcripts to understand the audio content in videos.
  • Test: Ensure all videos have captions or transcripts that accurately reflect the audio content.

5. Logical Focus Order:

  • Description: When users tab through a webpage, the focus should move in a logical order, allowing users to navigate through the content predictably.
  • Test: Use the tab key to navigate through all interactive elements on the webpage. Ensure the focus order is logical and predictable.

Advantages of Accessibility Testing

Beyond only helping businesses meet rules, accessibility testing has several other advantages. These are a few of the main benefits: 

  1. Increased User Base: You may reach a far wider audience with your product if you make sure it is accessible. This includes people with disabilities, and also who are with specific limitations, such as a person holding a baby or using a mobile device in poor light. 
  2. Improved User Experience: People with disabilities are not the only ones who benefit from accessibility features; but everyone does. All users will find your product easier to use if it has clear labeling, high color contrast, and keyboard navigation.
  3. Better SEO: Websites that are accessible to be more optimized for search engines. Search algorithms can read code more when it is clear and logical and has suitable heading structures.
  4. Legal Enforcement: A certain level of accessibility for digital products is required by law in many nations. You can make sure you follow these regulations and stay out of trouble by doing accessibility testing. 
  5. Brand Reputation: Showing a dedication to diversity and taking accessibility testing seriously is a positive reflection on your business. This can help you achieve positive brand awareness.

Limitations of Accessibility Testing

For those with disabilities, accessibility testing is similar to having a spell checker for websites and apps. Despite being extremely useful, it has certain limitations: 

  1. Not Perfect: Let’s say a term that the spell checker marks incorrectly turns out to be a proper name. Similarly, accessibility checkers might highlight items that may not be issues. 
  2. Requires a Human: There are things that the checker can’t understand. An alt text description for an image, for example, may exist, but the checker is unable to determine whether or not it correctly describes the image. Someone has to confirm again. 
  3. Only part of the check: To ensure everything sounds correct, you should practice accessibility testing just like you would spell-check before a presentation. Like testing, real users with disabilities should also test the website or app to determine if there are any other issues. 

Therefore, while accessibility testing is an excellent tool, you still occasionally need to use your expertise. 

How do Enterprises Benefit from Accessibility Testing?

Accessibility testing ensures that everyone with different abilities can use your product. Here are why businesses love it!

  • More clients: By fixing those accessibility problems, more people can use your website or app. That’s like having a wider door so everyone can come in and buy! 
  • Happy users: When things are easy to use, everyone enjoys them more. Accessibility testing helps make your product smooth and frustration-free, which keeps people happy and coming back! 
  • Saves money: Fixing problems early on is way cheaper than having to fix them later. It’s like catching a small bug in the product before your clients notice– much easier to fix! 
  • Good reputation: Making things accessible shows you care about everyone. That’s like giving out free trial for a month or two. This makes them feel good and want to tell their friends about your cool product!
  • Following the Rules: Like some games have rules, some countries have laws.  Websites and apps need to be accessible. Accessibility testing helps you follow those rules and avoid any trouble.

Sample Test Cases Accessibility Testing

To get you started, here are 6 sample test cases that span different aspects of accessibility

6 sample test cases

Ways to Perform Accessibility Testing:

There are several ways to perform accessibility testing using an automation testing tool like Testsigma:

1. Use the tool’s built-in accessibility checks:

Many automation testing tools, including Testsigma, have built-in checks for common accessibility issues, such as missing alt tags for images and improper headings. These checks can be run automatically as part of the test plan, and any issues found can be reported for further review and resolution.

2. Use accessibility testing frameworks:

There are several frameworks, such as aXe and WAVE, that can be integrated with automation testing tools to perform more comprehensive accessibility checks. These frameworks can check for various accessibility issues, including contrast ratios, proper use of ARIA attributes, and keyboard accessibility.

3. Use accessibility testing tools:

There are also dedicated accessibility testing tools that can be used in conjunction with automation testing tools. These tools can provide more detailed information about the accessibility of a website or application, including any issues other methods may not catch.

4. Use manual testing:

While automation testing is an important part of the accessibility testing process, it is also important to perform manual testing to ensure that the website or application is fully accessible. This can include testing with different assistive technologies, such as screen readers, and manually checking for issues such as keyboard accessibility and contrast ratios.

Overall, it is essential to use a combination of automation and manual testing to ensure that a website or application is fully accessible to all users. By using an automation testing tool like Testsigma, along with other accessibility testing tools and frameworks, organizations can ensure that their products are accessible and compliant with relevant standards and regulations.

How to perform Accessibility Testing?

Accessibility testing, like other types of testing, combines manual and automated testing methods. Here is a breakdown of the steps.

Manual Accessibility Testing

Put yourself in the position of users with varying capabilities. Try browsing your website or app just with the keyboard. 

  • Can you reach everything? 
  • Consider someone using a screen reader; does it read everything? 
  • Consider people with motor limitations: can they operate buttons or gestures easily? 

By testing these scenarios, you can identify opportunities for improvement.

Automated Accessibility Testing

When it comes to automated accessibility testing, instead of manually checking every nook and cranny, there are automation tools to identify potential accessibility issues.

Here are some popular Automated Accessibility Testing Tools:

  • Google Lighthouse (built-in Chrome DevTools): Free and easy to use, Lighthouse offers basic accessibility audits alongside other performance checks for your web pages.
  • Wave Accessibility Evaluation Tool: This free browser extension quickly scans webpages for accessibility issues, highlighting potential problems for a high-level overview.
  • Siteimprove (paid tool): A comprehensive accessibility testing platform with advanced features like automated testing, WCAG compliance reports, and real-time monitoring.
  • Axe (aXe Engine): An open-source JavaScript library that integrates with your development workflow to pinpoint accessibility concerns within your code during development.

Above are some of the top listed accessibility testing tools.

You should also check Testsigma, a low-code automation testing platform that can help you automate your accessibility test workflows for web, mobile, desktop and APIs from the same place. 


Testsigma offers a free trial and two paid plans – pro and enterprise. 

Myths of Accessibility Testing

Myths around accessibility testing frequently cause it to appear like a difficult task rather than what it is. Let’s disprove a few of those rumors and correct the record:

Myth #1: It’s only for blind people.

Reality: Everyone benefits from accessibility testing! Not only do features like keyboard compatibility, appropriate color contrast, and clear navigation improve the experience for all users, but also those with disabilities. Accessibility features make things easier for everyone. Just think about using your keyboard to navigate a website or enlarging an image you adore.

Myth #2: It’s expensive and time-consuming.

Reality: In the long run, early accessibility testing really saves money and effort. Consider the expensive pain of reworking big accessibility issues that arise after launch. Early detection of accessibility issues allows you to avoid expensive modifications and create a product that is usable by all users.

Myth #3: Robots can do it all.

Reality: Automated tools are useful tools, but they are not mind readers. Truly inclusive design requires a human touch of empathy, complex concerns, and nuanced experiences. Automated tools are considered useful scouts; nonetheless, true exploration is done by human testers assisting automatic ones.

Myth #4: It’s not my problem.

Reality: Everyone has a responsibility to be accessible. We all have a part to play in creating an inclusive digital world as developers, designers, and even website owners. Opening doors and guaranteeing that everyone has a seat at the digital table is more important than merely adhering to regulations.

Accessibility Testing Checklist

You can use the following simple accessibility testing checklist: 

  • Use just the keyboard to navigate manually.
  • Make sure your application is compatible with the screen reader.
  • Make sure the color contrast is clear.
  • Confirm that alternate text descriptions for images are provided.
  • Think about how persons with motor restrictions might use it.

Conclusion

At last, keep in mind that accessibility testing is a treasure map that gives you

1. better user experiences; 

2. broader audiences; 

3. adherence to the law; 

4. supremacy in search engine optimization; and 

5. a brilliant reputation for your business. 

Combine automated and human testing for the best results!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between ADA testing and accessibility testing?

Is accessibility testing functional testing?

What is the future scope of accessibility testing?