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Accessibility testing

Accessibility testing

What is Accessibility testing?

Accessibility testing is a type of systems testing designed to determine whether individuals with disabilities will be able to use the system in question, which could be software, hardware, or some other type of system. Disabilities encompass a wide range of physical problems, including learning disabilities as well as difficulties with sight, hearing and movement. Also it is a subset of usability testing where in the users under consideration people with all abilities and disabilities are the significance of this testing is to verify both usability and accessibility.

Why we need Accessibility testing

About 20% of the population has disability issues. If a software is introduced to the market it requires Accessibility Testing to make sure whether the introduced system is disabled friendly. It is a part of the normal testing life cycle.

When Accessibility testing is required?

Accessibility Testing should start right at the beginning of product design and should be included in subsequent development iterations through to final delivery.

Who should test?

Experts and Users basically involve in Accessibility Testing.

Expert testing is important because experts understand how the underlying web technologies interact and have the inclination to learn dedicated testing tools.

User testing is important because users are the real experts in their own abilities and their own assistive technology.

How Accessibility Testing can be done?

Accessibility Testing can be performed in two ways. They are:

  • Manual
  • Automated

The given below is a sample checklist is used for Accessibility Testing.

  1. Whether an application provides keyboard equivalents for all mouse operations and windows?
  2. Whether instructions are provided as a part of user documentation or manual? Is it easy to understand and operate the application using the documentation?
  3. Whether tabs are ordered logically to ensure smooth navigation?
  4. Whether shortcut keys are provided for menus?
  5. Whether application supports all operating systems?
  6. Whether response time of each screen or page is clearly mentioned so that End Users know how long to wait?
  7. Whether all labels are written correctly in the application?
  8. Whether color of the application is flexible for all users?
  9. Whether images or icons are used appropriately, so it’s easily understood by the end users?
  10. Whether an application has audio alerts?
  11. Whether a user is able to adjust audio or video controls?
  12. Whether a user can override default fonts for printing and text displays?
  13. Whether user can adjust or disable flashing, rotating or moving displays?
  14. Check to ensure that color-coding is never used as the only means of conveying information or indicating an action
  15. Whether highlighting is viewable with inverted colors? Testing of color in the application by changing the contrast ratio
  16. Whether audio and video related content are properly heard by the disability people ? Test all multimedia pages with no speakers in websites
  17. Whether training is provided for users with disabilities that will enable them to become familiar with the software or application?

What are the requirements and tools?

Before you begin to evaluate a project for accessibility, you need to determine what the key requirements are for that project, given its environment, intended audience, and resources. Some requirements will be set by third parties like governments and clients; some you may be able to choose for yourself.

External requirements

Often requirements come from external sources, such as:

  • Government’s rules and regulations
  • Customer policies
  • Marketing utility.
  • Internal accessibility policies at your organization

Free tools

    • AChecker – Accessibility Checker
    • Accessibility Valet
    • FAE – Functional Accessibility Evaluator
    • OCAWA – Operational Control and Analysis for Web Accessibility
    • TAW – Test de Accesibilidad Web
    • WAVE – Web Accessibility Versatile Evaluator


International Standards

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the internet, has created a guideline for making web content accessible to people with disabilities. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 provides recommendations on making web content more accessible to people with disabilities. They provide conditions for testing in the form of success criteria based on four principles of usability principles.

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust

In order to be perceivable, web content must provide alternatives for non text content and time-based media. Examples include providing options for braille translations and captions for audio or video only recordings. Content should be able to presented in different formats and foreground should be separated from background for easier reading.

Operability requires that that all actions can be executed from a keyboard and that time limits for actions can be extended. Flashing should be limited, as it is known to cause seizures. Finally navigation help should be provided in various contexts so that users know where they are in the application and are able to find content.

Understandable content means that it is easy to read i.e., limited use of jargon, abbreviations and written at lower levels of reading ability. In addition, web pages should appear in predictable ways, and functionality should be provided to help users correct their mistakes.

Robustness means that the web content should be able to be interpreted by current and future technologies including assistive technologies.

Date: September 29, 2010