Accessibility Testing: The guide -Part 1

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What is an Accessibility Testing?

Accessibility testing is a subcategory of usability testing under Acceptance testing that is executed to make sure the application can be easily used by people with disabilities such as hearing loss, color blindness, and loss of vision.

These disadvantaged groups of people rely on assistive technology to operate all types of electronic devices and software systems. Without accessibility testing, these groups of people would not be able to enjoy most software products.

The end goal of accessibility testing is to ensure that people can easily use a piece of software no matter what the case, and that the feedback given improves future designs and implementations.

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This testing method is very formalized. There are laws (and don’t forget the opinion of the public) that look down on those who discriminate against others who have disabilities. In order for companies to be fair and cater to this group of people, there are accessibility standards that must be adhered to such as the WCAG– web content accessibility guidelines.

It is important that, when accessibility testing, the software meets the needs of people with all types of disabilities, balances those with differing disabilities, and uses clear language to cater to or meet those needs.

Human needs- Why is Accessibility testing is so important? 

As our understanding of human needs changes, technology changes as well to adapt to these needs. Accessibility requirements will change over time as current standards will be replaced with new ones. An accessibility evaluation must understand and pay close attention to what it is like to interact with a product using different senses or cognitive abilities.

Read also about ——- Website Testing

How can you measure it?

Before the product is tested, requirements for the software must be understood and met:

  • The developer must determine what the essential requirements for the project are for its intended audience and environment. Some requirements typically come from external sources such as the government; this typically involves legislation requiring non-discrimination towards the disadvantaged group. Other requirements can stem from client policies such as having to ensure the product adheres to a certain point in the WCAG or any of the additional standards available that is relevant for the specific case.
  • Accessibility standards can be vague at times, so it is the developers job to get as much clarity as possible in regards to what is needed.
  • Once the requirements are understood testing can begin. To save time, money, and ensure a quality product, accessibility testing should begin when the product design first starts and should be iterated into the development process all the wall until final delivery.

Now, there are two groups of people who perform these tests: experts and users.

An expert tester is important as they have the skills to properly test the software for accessibility and defects in the program. User testing is critical as these are users who have disabilities and are familiar with assistive technology. They will be able to reveal usability flaws and help improve the software to be more user friendly.

Information gained through the user helps the expert further advance the product and perform accessibility testing different each time an improvement is made.

How can you implement Accessibility on your website or software?

  • Bigger fonts for users that can’t see very well.
  • Narration for article.
  • Option to tone up or down for the deaf and heavy hearing.
  • Subtitles for videos.
  • Use of software helpers for better accessibility like plugins etc.  

Coming soon! Accessibility Testing part 2…

Go to next article – Usability Testing

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