Have you wondered how Software Testing is evolved in the last decade, starting from a Waterfall development model to Fast Agile project management, where you can release a software in few days? Now think about the evolution of QA or Software Testing with these processes. Testing types have evolved and we are in an era of technology where our Softwares are developed for every human being on this planet, irrespective to their skills or abilities. Functional Testing, Automation Testing, mobile and many more have evolved and with these there is another type of testing “Accessibility Testing” which is also evolved. For those who are new to Accessibility, this is a type of testing done to ensure the application is useful for people who are differently abled, so that they can also take advantages of the features of applications.
And with the increasing reach of software applications over a varied range of end users, more and more distinguished features should be enabled for differently abled peoples as well, and these features should be friendly with the peoples who may have a problem in hearing, color blindness, or partial blindness or any other disorder. There are already some Softwares /Websites available in the market like disabilityhorizons which provide these features and more and more such sites are getting added in the landscape.
Need of Accessibility Testing
It is said that when one sense is taken by the nature then few other new senses are gifted to the person which helps the person in performing the regular as well as very unique and extraordinary tasks which are sometimes impossible for a normal person. by him and this is the case for Accessible users.
From last decade the feature of accessibility is gaining momentum and becoming more popular in businesses, these businesses are now more interested in leveraging the potentials of special peoples so that they can grow and work in their areas of expertise. To make this happen most of the Websites/Applications/Desktop Software’s are now getting acquainted with the feature of screen reading / speaking / highlighting with colors etc. These are very unique functionalities developed other than the regular ones, in these applications, so is their testing methodology. This demand of new features related to accessibility has increased the demands of testing as well.
Areas covered by Accessibility
Several Tools and technologies are been developed and used by various software companies to ease the usage of applications against accessibility. These tools and technologies help to get the information from a website for the person who is unable to get it alone. Mainly it deals with below types of disorders:
- Auditory disorders
- Cognitive disorders
- Physical disorders
- Speech disorders
- Visual disorders
The WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) have devised 4 principles Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust for a successful implementation of accessibility. All these principles group to follow as success criteria which consists of 3 levels A (lowest), AA (mid-range/ medium) and AAA (highest).
These levels are based on accessibility criteria in a website. We can understand in an easy way:
- Level A: Some impact on design, partially noticeable
- Level AA: Medium impact on design, balanced and can be implemented
- Level AAA: High impact on design, very tough to implement
As per W3C, most of the organizations are unable to achieve level AAA because it requires a compromise with the designs. So, most of them follows Level AA which can be accessible by both normal as well as differently abled people.
The Accessibility of web application depends on various components which works together including some authorized tools, web technologies, web browser settings (browser add-ons also) and websites.
The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) mainly develops technical specifications, techniques and guidelines that describe accessibility solutions. These are considered as international standards for web accessibility; for example, WCAG 2.0 is also an ISO standard: ISO/IEC 40500. Now WCAG 2.1 is also available and WCAG 2.2 is scheduled to be published in 2021.
WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 guidelines consists of various checkpoints which are verified by the Testers, so that the people with any disabilities can access these applications in an easy manner.
Tools for Accessibility Testing
To perform Accessibility Testing various accessibility testing website speak about various tools, and testers in some software companies use several types of tools and addons to test the applications as per WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 guidelines. Accessibility testing automation can also be performed using some specific tools. Following are few widely used tools.
Screen Reader: It is an application which is used for a blind or visually impaired person. In short, screen reader reads all the texts which is displayed on a computer so that a blind person can understand and work on that accordingly.
Example Case: A blind or visually impaired person wants to check his email, how he can accomplish this. In this case the person can take advantage of a reader, you can get a rough idea how it works:
Step A by Person
Launching the browser using Tab and Enter Key
Action by Screen Reader
Screen Reader will read all the icons on desktop and guide the user about the presence of browser. Once the Screen reader speaks the browser name available on the desktop, person will hit Enter key to launch the browser
Step B by Person
Providing URL in address bar
Action by Screen Reader
User will type the URL in the address bar of browser and Screen — Reader will start reading the typed letters.
Step C taken by Person
Login to Email client, after providing Username and password
Action by Screen Reader
Screen Reader, will read all the accessible links of a Login page when user hits “Tab” key. Once the reader reads the Username and password from the input field, then the person can provide the details (provided details are also read by the reader) and hit “Enter” key on Login button.
There are many Paid and Free tools available in market, few are listed below:
- NVDA (Windows)
- Serotek System Access (Windows)
- Apple VoiceOver (OS X)
- ORCA (Linux)
- WebAnywhere (All OSs, Web browsers)
- ChromeVox (Google Chrome)
And under paid category, JAWS is also one of the popular windows screen reader.
Color Accessibility: Color plays important role in a website for every user and its selection should consider various aspects like the visibility of Text along with the other elements in the page, usage of high contrast colors etc.
Several tools can be used to check the color contrast of the text and images, below are some of them:
- Color Contrast Analyzer
- Color Oracle
- Figma Contrast
- Contrast Ratio
There are multiple add-ons available which can be used to verify several checkpoints of WCAG 2.0 and 2.1. Let us discuss one by one:
Axe Tool: Available for both FF and Chrome. Maximum of the ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications), label check points can be verified using this tool. Its output is available in the browser console in some cases, it also helps in verifying color contrast issues by validating the contrast ratios as specified by WCAG.
Nerde Focus: Available on Chrome which is used to find the focus related findings.
Wave Chrome Extension: Diagnoses styles and dynamically-generated content.
Accessibility testing for websites is now a very wider term, which is predominantly used for making the websites usable for people with some type of disability, which can help them in syncing with the changing world, technologies and happily grow with them.