Everyone deserves to have equal access and enjoyment from digital devices. However, not everyone can interact with a product in the same way. Individuals with disabilities require various supports and accommodations, and it is up to us, as testers and developers, to ensure those supports and accommodations are easy to use and accessible. That’s where accessibility testing comes in.
By testing for accessibility, software developers can identify and address barriers that may prevent people with various types of disabilities from accessing and using their products. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of accessibility testing so you can create an accessible product.
Why Accessibility Testing Matters
Accessibility testing is not just a legal or ethical obligation—it is also a business imperative. By making software accessible, companies can tap into a larger user base and improve user satisfaction. According to the World Health Organization, over a billion people worldwide live with some form of disability, and failing to consider their needs means excluding a significant portion of potential customers.
Accessibility testing, then, helps organizations identify and remove barriers that prevent users with disabilities from effectively using software products. It ensures that individuals who are visually impaired can navigate and interact with screen readers, that users with hearing impairments can access closed captioning or transcripts, and that those with motor disabilities can navigate through keyboard commands or alternative input methods.
Regardless, ensuring your software is accessible is a legal requirement. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all goods, services, privileges, and other activities must have appropriate accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
But how do you get started? Thankfully, there are several different accessibility guidelines that can be used to ensure that software products are accessible. Some of the most common guidelines include:
- The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
- The Section 508 Accessibility Standards
- The Microsoft Active Accessibility Guidelines
- The Apple Accessibility Guidelines
These guidelines provide a set of standards that software products must meet in order to be considered accessible. By following these guidelines, developers can ensure that their products are usable by everyone, regardless of ability.
Key Considerations in Accessibility Testing
When performing an accessibility test, it’s important to consider a wide range of disabilities and impairments. Here are some key aspects to focus on:
- Visual Accessibility: Test for compatibility with screen readers, ensure proper color contrast, provide alternative text for images, and verify that content can be easily magnified or resized.
- Auditory Accessibility: Check for closed captioning, transcripts, and audio descriptions for multimedia content. Verify that audio alerts or warnings are also accompanied by visual cues.
- Cognitive Accessibility: Evaluate the clarity and simplicity of the user interface, avoid jargon or complex language, and ensure logical and consistent navigation throughout the software.
- Motor Accessibility: Verify that the software can be navigated using keyboard commands alone. Ensure that controls and interactive elements have sufficient size and spacing for easy interaction.
Best Practices for Accessibility Testing
Once you have a good idea of what to look out for, it’s next time to focus on best practices. They are as follows:
- Early Involvement: Accessibility should be incorporated into the software development lifecycle from the beginning. By involving accessibility experts and conducting tests throughout the development process, issues can be identified and resolved early on.
- Use a Combination of Automated and Manual Testing: Automated tools can help identify common accessibility issues, but manual testing is also crucial for identifying more complicated and nuanced issues.
- Test with Real Users: Engage individuals with disabilities to test the software and provide feedback. Their insights and experiences are invaluable in identifying barriers and making necessary improvements.
- Stay Informed: Keep up with accessibility guidelines and standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Additionally, make sure to regularly review updates to stay current with evolving accessibility practices.
Accessibility testing is vital to ensure inclusivity and equal access to software products for individuals with disabilities. To have your product tested for accessibility, contact Beta Breakers today.