Adam Savage, of TVs Mythbusters fame, once said “Gravity, it’s not just a good idea. Its the law.” A funny quote to be sure, but also related to the world of web and mobile Accessibility Testing. Of course, it is a good idea to make your web and mobile apps accessible to users of all abilities. More than that it is increasingly becoming the law to need to provide your users with the accessibility that they require.
The truth is that around 15% of the world’s population lives with some disability or another. A drill down into these statistics will show that the number of people needing accessible web and mobile apps is a bit lower than that. However, according to the WHO, there are over 250 million people in the world with some form of vision impairment. Furthermore and again this is according to the WHO more than 600 million people worldwide suffer from some type of hearing-related impairment.
Hearing and vision disabilities are the main types of ways that web and mobile sites need to be made more accessible.
Only they haven’t. At least not with the speed that users require.
An Unfortunate lack of accessibility
We would never accuse anyone of deliberately making a website that is purposefully inaccessible, but there are many documented cases of websites that are either partially or completely inaccessible.
There are a number of reasons why this is the case. The first reason is that developers and testers who are not differently abled simply do not think of web and mobile accessibility testing as part of the user experiences they build. On top of that, they often lack the knowledge of web accessibility standards and the multiple versions of these standards globally. Developers might also lack the tools to properly evaluate web and mobile accessibility. Even if they had the tools the evaluation process can be lengthy time consuming and costly.
It may surprise some of you reading this to know that there have already been accessibility guidelines on the books since 1995. Now, that is not to say that things have not changed, they certainly have. Let’s take a closer look at some of the web and mobile accessibility testing guidelines driving improvements to mobile and web apps today.
Implemented in 1998, these regulations are part of the US Rehabilitation Act and required that all government websites needed to be fully accessible.
The people covered by this act are those with
- Visual impairments
- Hearing impairments
- Physical Impairments
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) issues these guidelines for accessibility. This institution works to develop web standards, that meet the needs of everyone from governments down to individual users.
WCAG 2.1 which is the latest version was released in 2018 and has been organized into 4 different standards.
Also created by W3C this specification focuses on web development and semantics in order for assistive technologies to be able to learn how to navigate a given website or app.
What elements should you consider when testing website accessibility
There are a number of ways that a differently-abled person can reach a stumbling block when navigating web and mobile applications. Here are some of the main elements that need to be considered when mobile accessibility testing.
Forms – This seems like the most obvious element that needs to be accessible. Some of the ways to ensure that accessibility is to make sure that all boxes are correctly labeled. It is as important to make sure that users can easily submit any forms on your web or mobile application.
Transcripts – Any video that you post on your website must have accurate transcripts for those users who either cannot hear or see the videos.
Text – The way to make this more accessible is to differentiated text for pictures and images. It would also help to have a text reader for blind users.
Data Tables – These require specific headings so that automatic readers know to read the information contained in a table.
Color – Use color carefully and with restraint. Assigning specific meaning to color on your website or app could leave people with color sensory issues at a disadvantage.
Links – Must also be handled carefully. They should be placed on a page with the correct content so that users understand it.
Content – Should be simple to read and understand.
It is not only a good idea to follow these guidelines for your differently-abled users. In many cases, we have seen that there are laws protecting these rights. Not only that but a website that is accessible usually scores higher on their SEO rankings.
How to test your apps using SeeTest
Let’s take a look at how this capability works when manual testing on the SeeTest Platform.
Step 1 – Start by logging into the cloud and selecting a device. Once your device is open you will see the device reflection.
From here you can interact with the device as if you are holding it in your hand.
Step 2 – Open up the settings.
Step 3 – Click on Accessibility
Step 4 – When the accessibility window opens activate VoiceOver.
Step 5 – Navigate back to the home screen, and open an app. For this demo we used Netflix.
Step 6 – Click on the audio icon on the left of the screen.
Step 7 – In the window that opens go to the record tab and click “Listen”.
Step 8 – Now that audio is active as you highlight different text on the app you are testing you will hear the text read back to you. You can also adjust the speed at which it is being read.
And that is it. In order to see it in action in real-time take a look at the video below.
Inclusion is the Conclusion
It is important to be inclusive, to be able to give each user of your web or mobile app an experience that meets their needs no matter what their level of ability is. This will have an effect in that people will see that you care about everyone, and those that need web and mobile accessibility will feel cared for. More than that, its the law.
With understanding the rules and regulations you will be able to ensure that they are followed. Everyone has a right to information. In a way, there is more to the practices of accessibility than simply following guidelines. You are also ensuring that your company does not stand for discrimination of any kind and that you are willing to go the extra step to make sure everyone is included.