WHY ACCESSIBILITY TESTING MATTERS ?
Accessibility testing is a method of testing to make sure that applications are designed to be usable by as many people as possible. When talking about accessibility, it can also be defined as usability for individuals with disabilities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the global population suffer from some sort of disability that impacts how they interact with digital devices.
To be truly accessible, applications need to be designed so they are usable by people with various disabilities, such as vision impairments, hearing impairments or cognitive impairments for example.
In order to provide a standard for accessible applications to be developed and tested, the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative provides recommendations for making Web content more accessible in the form of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
UNDERSTANDING ACCESSIBILITY GUIDELINES
These guidelines are organized by four main principles, which state that content must be POUR (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust).
• Perceivable - Information and user interface components must be presented to users in ways they can perceive, which means the content must be available to the senses, sight, hearing and / or touch.
• Operable - User interface forms, controls and navigation must be operable. The interface must not require interactions that users cannot perform.
• Understandable - Information and the operation of a user interface must be understandable. Users must be able to read and understand the information as well as how the user interface operates.
• Robust - Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technology.
EXAMPLES OF TESTABLE ACCESSIBILITY CRITERIA
These principles comprise of guidelines, and then criteria which satisfy those guidelines, for example…
GUIDELINE 2.1. - Keyboard Accessible: Make all functionality available from a keyboard - SUCCESS CRITERIA - 2.1.1. Keyboard (Level A).
All page functionality is available through the keyboard, unless the functionality cannot be accomplished in any known way using a keyboard (e.g. free hand drawing). Page-specified shortcut keys do not conflict with existing browser and screen reader shortcuts.
ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS AND COMPLIANCE LEVELS
World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative provides recommendations for making web content more accessible in the form of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
At Fimatix, we test against the latest set of guidelines WCAG 2.1 by checking 78 criteria covering 4 categories, which are grouped into 3 compliance levels …
• WCAG LEVEL A – Basic Accessibility - Considered the least strict, Level A success criteria are essential for every website - e.g. assistive technologies, such as screen readers, must be able to access content, non-text content (images and videos) must have a text equivalent, users must be able to access content using a keyboard only.
• WCAG LEVEL AA – Strong Accessibility - Most accessibility experts recommend this conformance level as standard - e.g. text and background must use good colour contrast, content should be organised under clear headings, using a logical order, elements that affect navigation should be consistent across the site.
• WCAG LEVEL AAA – Excellent Accessibility - May not be applicable or realistic to achieve, organisations should strive to meet as many of its criteria as possible - e.g. contrast ratio between text and background is at least 7 to 1, pre-recorded video content must have a sign language translation, extended audio description should be provided for pre-recorded videos.
CONDUCTING ACCESSIBILITY TESTING
Once able to understand and test the accessibility checks and criteria, a test approach can be defined ...
i). DEFINE SCOPE - Select which pages or screens of the application need auditing and understand their complexity. Determine whether it's feasible to check all pages.
ii). PERFORM CHECKS - Audit each page or screen in scope against WCAG 2.1 (at least AA standard) using WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind) checklists. This involves manual checks and assessing how the application works with assistive tools like screen readers.
iii). VERIFY ISSUES - List the issues found and manually verify the issues found through assessment tools. Provide descriptions and examples of the issues found and provide clear remediation advice to address the issues.
iv). PRIORITISE ISSUES - Provide levels of severity so the most important issues can be addressed first. Categorize issues based on severity so that the most critical ones can be addressed first.
v). REPORT AND RETEST - Provide a comprehensive report at the end of testing and plan a follow-up audit after addressing the identified issues.
THE IMPORTANCE OF REGULAR ACCESSIBILITY TESTING
Regular accessibility testing is vital for several reasons:
- It promotes inclusivity and expands your user market reach.
- It helps ensure compliance with relevant legislation.
- It is essential for maintaining your brand reputation.
- It keeps your applications aligned with evolving accessibility requirements and guidelines.
HOW CAN FIMATIX HELP ?
If you need advice on your existing accessibility testing procedures or require independent accessibility testing for your applications, Fimatix can provide the expertise and support you need. Ensuring your applications are accessible is not only a legal requirement but also a step toward creating a more inclusive and user-friendly digital world. Don't hesitate to reach out to Fimatix for assistance with your accessibility testing needs.