Written by Jay King
This article was originally published on August 30, 2017
In my last blog, I discussed four critical tools necessary for successful mobile application accessibility testing. Accessibility testing is a subset of usability testing, and it is performed to ensure that a mobile application is ADA compliant and usable by people with disabilities like hearing, color blindness, old age and other disadvantaged groups.
Accessibility testing also determines if an app is compliant with the Department of Justice’s 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design. These standards state that all electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities.
Now that we have reviewed the tools necessary for successful mobile application accessibility testing (Screen Readers, iOS Voiceover, Android Talkback, and braille display), let’s look at ways to apply the tools.
Accessibility Testing Procedures
Functionality testing focuses on three key areas: readability, navigation and usability. These qualities are all intertwined. If one doesn’t work the way it should, it makes it harder for ADA users to use our apps.
Readability ensures that the correct items have the right labels, such as providing clear indications when buttons are available.
Navigation confirms that the swipe-through method screen reader is highlighting the correct items and doesn’t get stuck. This ties in into readability because if an item doesn’t have a label, a cursor wouldn’t move to the next item.
Usability determines if the app works the way it’s supposed to: that users can purchase and deploy tickets and that the user flow moves seamlessly. This is also determined in user testing.
We have an American Disabilities Act (ADA) user review our apps. The ADA user I work with the most is incredible. She has taught me a lot of things that I would have never known unless I had worked with somebody who uses these tools daily. Usually, we will do user testing of an app and she will give feedback or suggestions on things and where we can improve our apps. There are times in which I have her assist me with testing a bug fix to get her feedback on how the app can be improved. She also uses our Braille display carefully and notes her interactions within the app’s design.
A mobile app for public transportation that is technically accessible to all riders must also be usable for people with disabilities. With the right tools and testing methods, this goal is within reach for every public transit agency.