Global Accessibility Awareness Day: How to adapt your Quality Assurance strategy for accessibility testing?
When we talk about an accessible software we mean a digital product that can be operated and understood by anyone. Have you thought about how many physical interactions you need when you post something on a social media app, for instance?
Today, in the Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I would like to share my experience working at Wolox with three powerful tools that will help you to test your digital product for accessibility and make it more inclusive.
The guidelines developed by W3C to meet accessibility standards are divided into four categories with different levels of conformance. All of them are testable conditions but some can be analyzed with automated tools while others need the eyes of a human analyst (QA).
Without further ado, let’s dive into these amazing tools!
3 automated tools for accessibility testing
This Chrome extension is an automated analyzer that performs different types of audits on your platform, including accessibility. It runs a handful of tests over a website and then generates a report on how well the page performed, a quick review of the problems plus its solutions, and many links with the documentation for developers.
When would I use it and why? I would use Lighthouse to test websites with a heavy load of visual effects (interactions, transitions, etc.). The report will show you opportunities to improve the legibility of your content in terms of colors and contrasts, a list of best practices or recommendations you might include, and many other interesting things.
You’re not a beginner, so leverage Axe to go deeper. This tool powered by Deque is also executable over the browser and will generate a specific report identifying all the issues classified by priority (violations, needs review, rejected, best practices).
When would I use it and why? I would use Axe when specific components require further testing. By using the pro (and free) version, you will be able to use some extra features: save your tests, run guided tests, rerun those saved tests, export results, etc. You may run tests to perform a thorough assessment of a given component, for instance, a modal. In addition, Deque has an excellent support center if you have any questions about accessibility.
If you need to find accessibility issues without too much effort, Wave is your tool. It worked for me when using the browser extension, but it also offers other features like an API engine that allows automated and remote accessibility analysis of web pages.
When would I use it and why? I would use Wave as soon as you need an accessibility overview code test. It is the best option if you are the one fixing the issues because the tool easily shows you the piece of code where the issue is located.
Some further considerations
Let’s go over mobile apps. The most interesting and useful way to validate them is to use native assistive technology. As far as I know and taking into account the variety of OS, there are no automated tools to run on all mobile devices for a quick overview. So, many of the main accessibility issues need to be tested by using assistive technology applications.
As you may have already seen, several guidelines can be tested by using a given tool or external resources but some of them cannot be tested with software. Some of those guidelines are tied to cognitive behavior so it is required for the testers/analysts to use their logic through manual testing to see if everything is “understandable” for any user and ensure general cohesion and optimal expectations.
You must assess the product according to different levels of abstraction to see the big picture. It is crucial to merge perspectives and evaluate the software product as a whole component made by assembled parts. Do not forget that your product might face audits in terms of accessibility. Indeed, I have had this experience with a project that was audited for Section 508 in the US so we introduced this accessibility analysis for a 2.0 version. Thanks to the tools mentioned above, the results finally showed us a significant improvement in inaccessibility.
Digital inclusion: the key for a better future
Your quality assurance strategy must include these skills, processes, and tools. The testing process for digital products includes, mainly, functional validations. However, we have to take into account this “non-functional” testing to deliver the best experience for users and clients. All this analysis must be included at the beginning of the process, from the product thinking stage to the final implementation. Train your team to acquire an accurate vision of the quality keys of your services and be ready to ensure the best possible product.
Too many things to keep in mind, right? Welcome to the Quality Assurance universe!