By Debora Slotnisky.
Accessibility testing refers to a subset of usability tests performed when developing software. Its aim consists of ensuring that all users – particularly those with disabilities – can use mobile apps and websites on computers and smart devices. These accessibility tests are performed to ensure that disadvantaged groups, such as people with visual or hearing impairments, color blindness, physical, neurological and speech disorders, elderly people, people with cognitive or literacy disabilities, etc. can properly use the applications tested.
Accessibility testing remains crucial when determining the success or failure of any given application, given that more than 1 billion people worldwide suffer from some type of disability – that is, about 15% of the world’s population. In addition, between 110 and 190 million people all around the world suffer from significant disabilities.
In order to offer all people access to the digital era, companies are required to follow certain instructions, such as the guidelines for accessibility to web content (WACG 2.0). These guidelines are based on the following 4 principles:
- Perceptible information: Provide text alternatives to ensure easier ways to listen and read content
- Operable user interface: websites must be fully navigable through the sole use of a keyboard.
- Coherent and clear information: language must be clear.
- Powerful content and reliable interpretation: content must be compatible with both older and newer technology.
WACG is a technical standard required to ensure web application accessibility. Each of its 4 main principles include 12 guidelines, all of which are linked to compliance criteria (61 in total) that must be met. In fact, there are already a series of technical tools designed precisely to assist web application analysis, error detection and accessibility validation.
A little goes a long way. At times, a small accessibility adjustment is just what an application needs to optimize users’ experience. Here at Arbusta, we can guide your company through this process, offering specialized accessibility testing services to Argentinean companies. In addition, our services include assistive technology implementation, a feature allowing disabled individuals to operate and optimize software products´ use. Some assistive technology examples are the following: voice recognition software (turning spoken words to text), screen reader software (narration of screen content), screen magnification software (facilitates screen reading to visually impaired users) and the special keyboard (highly needed for motor impairment users).
As an example, screen reader software application (which turns text into synthesized voice) assist blind users’ computer use while reducing their computer keyboard dependence. Likewise, other softwares provide tools capable of allowing users to navigate through content in different ways, such as reading the screen from the top down, and using the tab key to go from link to link or from one header to another, among others.
Accessibility testing is an essential part of software testing. In Argentina, Law No. 26,653 (or Web Accessibility Law) regulates this issue, while monitoring and evaluations are carried out by the National Information Technology Office (ONTI). Published in 2010, this law defines accessibility as “special equipment or program configuration that enables disable people’s ability to consult and understand website information”.
The Web offers unique opportunities in terms of information availability and user interaction, which is why everyone should be able to access it; therefore, all innovative business must fully comply with the existing accessibility testing guidelines. Accessibility testing can be done automatically (as well as usability testing), and early accessibility evaluation allows businesses to detect problems when it is easier to solve them.