Nowadays, most people rely on digital products and platforms to conduct everyday tasks such as work, communication, and entertainment. Therefore, it is important to develop digital products and platforms that can be inclusive for all individuals, including those with disabilities. Thus, accessibility testing plays a crucial role in ensuring this.
What is accessibility testing?
Accessibility testing is the process of evaluating and assessing digital products and services to determine their level of accessibility for individuals with disabilities. It involves testing various elements such as website layouts, content, navigation, multimedia, and functionality to ensure that they are perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for all users. In addition, a comparison with several accessibility standards is used when performing accessibility testing.
What are WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1?
WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and has currently two official versions: 2.0 and 2.1. These are internationally recognized standards that provide guidelines for making digital content accessible to people with disabilities.
WCAG 2.0 came in 2008 and WCAG 2.1 was released in 2018. WCAG 2.1 introduces 17 new success criteria and extended the coverage for mobile accessibility. WCAG 2.1 is not a replacement for WCAG 2.0 and is only meant as an extension. Please check out W3C Accessibility Standards for more information about WCAG.
|61 success criteria
|78 success criteria (includes WCAG 2.0)
|Does not address some modern web technologies
|Expands coverage to newer technologies and mobile accessibility
|Focuses more on desktop-based accessibility
|Enhances accessibility for mobile devices and touchscreen interfaces
How to perform accessibility testing?
Accessibility testing can be performed through various methods such as manual testing, automated testing, and user testing. The process often involves a combination of the following steps:
- Conducting a comprehensive accessibility audit to identify potential issues and areas for improvement
- Evaluating web content against WCAG guidelines to ensure compliance
- Performing functional testing with assistive technologies like screen readers, keyboard-only navigation, and voice control
- Analyzing color contrast, font sizes, and other visual elements for legibility
- Testing multimedia content (video/audio), for appropriate captions and transcripts
Possible to automate accessibility testing?
Short answer, yes. It is possible to automate accessibility testing to the extent of automated checks to identify common accessibility issues, such as contrast colors and missing alternative text for images. Also, it is possible to automatically identify improper heading structures and other deviations from WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1 requirements.
However, complete accessibility testing cannot rely solely on automation, as some issues require manual evaluation. Examples of this are user testing and a deeper understanding of the user experience. In other words, one’s personal user experience cannot be automated.
Useful tools for accessibility testing
- WAVE: A web accessibility evaluation tool that provides detailed reports and suggestions for improving accessibility compliance.
- Accessibility Insights for Web: A browser extension that aids in manual accessibility testing, providing insights and highlighting potential issues.
- Accessibility Insights for Windows: A tool for testing the accessibility of Windows-based applications, offering guidance and recommendations for improvement.
- VoiceOver: A screen reader built into Apple devices, enabling developers to test web accessibility for users with visual impairments.
- Narrator: A built-in screen reader in Windows that provides text-to-speech functionality and helps users with visual impairments navigate and interact with the computer.
- NVDA: A free and open-source screen reader software that enables people with visual impairments to access and interact with digital content.
- ContrastChecker: A tool for evaluating color contrast ratios to ensure readability for users with low vision.