According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the world's population (about 1 billion people) have some form of physical disability that impacts the way they interact with digital devices.
Accessibility testing is essential for any business that wants to ensure that their digital user journeys are inclusive and consider the needs of everyone.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of accessibility testing and explain how to take an effective approach when it comes to running your accessibility tests.
What are the accessibility tests?
As part of usability testing, accessibility testing enables digital products and applications to be accessible to people with disabilities such as blindness, hearing problems or cognitive impairments.
Web accessibility is measured around the following four principles:
1. Perceptibility: or the presentability of user interface components or information that users can understand with at least one of their senses.
2. Operability: ability of all users to interact with the application components or navigation.
3. Comprehensibility: the ease with which users with disabilities can understand the information conveyed and the interface of the application.
4. Robustness: The level of content presented to be interpreted correctly using various technologies or user devices.
Users with disabilities will not be able to use the application or website if we do not adhere to these principles.
Why is accessibility testing important?
The growth of digital technologies and applications means that almost everyone is becoming increasingly dependent on connected devices.
The reality is that not everyone can interact with these devices in the same way, and there are many needs that must be addressed to ensure a positive user experience for anyone using your website or app.
In addition to people with disabilities, accessibility tests can also be used for the elderly, children, left-handed users and non-native speakers, for example.
Under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (or WCAG) 2.0, governments around the world are attempting to make software products accessible to people with disabilities through government legislation.
Key benefits of regular and rigorous accessibility testing
Increase the user base
Websites that are not accessible have a smaller user base, and accessibility testing can make software products accessible to a broader user base.
To add some context, 70% of the world's websites are inaccessible to people with disabilities, which represents a huge loss of revenue and a major market opportunity.
Delayed accessibility testing can lead to more bugs and costly patches.
Accessibility testing should be part of any E2E- testing process from the beginning of the development process.
The EU is seeking to establish clear requirements for companies that create technologies based on WCAG standards, and to make them mandatory for public organizations at this time, and possibly in the future for private organizations as well.
To take an example from the U.S., Amazon was sued in 2018 over accessibility barriers for blind and visually impaired users.
The marketplace could not be used in conjunction with updatable screen readers and Braille displays. Despite the fact that the trial ended smoothly, Amazon had to make some fixes to the website interface.
Improved code quality
Correcting accessibility-related errors can create a higher quality code base for the finished product/website.
This is largely due to accessibility testing tools identifying various coding errors that could otherwise lead to usability issues and software bugs.
In addition to creating fewer bugs, high-quality code provides a better UX (and user experience) as well as faster loading on any device.
Improvement in SEO
Accessible websites contain rich text, making it easier for search engines to find them and search for relevant content.
A higher SEO ranking means that search engines are likely to drive more traffic to the website, which will result in more conversions and revenue.
In addition, accessibility testing helps create applications and websites with simpler interfaces and navigation, reducing bounce rates and encouraging more users to use them regularly.
How to perform accessibility tests?
Regular accessibility testing allows QA teams to establish a more comprehensive understanding of accessibility issues, which is nearly impossible with quarterly or annual testing.
Integrating accessibility testing into the end-to-end testing strategy gives QA teams a whole new level of visibility into accessibility issues, making it easier to proactively manage problems.
In practice, accessibility testing can be done manually or with automated testing tools.
Ultimately, the best option for accessibility testing is to combine automated and manual testing.
Automate accessibility testing | The importance of no-code tools
Many accessibility issues on the frontend are ultimately related to backend development practices.
Messy code equals inaccessible digital experiences, and most sites are simply too complex. It's nearly impossible to detect all potential accessibility issues by manually going through the entire site.
Therefore, automated tools are the first choice of most organizations to scan their site for accessibility issues.
Automated accessibility tests are particularly useful when it comes to detecting items such as :
- Empty links
- Presence of alternative text
- Basic color contrast
- Presence of the page title
- Presence of the document language
- Presence of form labels
When does manual accessibility testing make sense?
Two areas where manual accessibility testing is needed:
1. Screen reader compatibility: Screen readers are among the most commonly used assistive tools for visually impaired users. They analyze the content of a web page and use the source code to determine what the user needs to know and when.
While an automated analysis can identify missing titles on pages, what it cannot do is determine based on context whether a page title is appropriate or useful.
Manual testing can determine the readability of your content in support situations that automated programs cannot replicate.
2. Keyboard navigation: A key element in making a website accessible is to allow all its functions to be used without a mouse.
A compliant website must not only be compatible with various assistive technologies, but also navigable with keyboard commands only.
Mr Suricate | Simplified accessibility testing with no-code automation
Early and frequent integration of automated accessibility checks into development ensures that quality and accessibility are proactively managed at all stages of the software development life cycle.
A no-code test automation platform such as Mr Suricate makes it easy to integrate accessibility testing into your QA strategy, significantly reducing the time to impact.