Accessibility Testing

Accessibility Testing

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We know that software testing validates an application under development for its correctness, accuracy, functionality, reliability, usability, and performance. It uncovers and eliminates all possible potential bugs and errors. Besides these, testing also involves validating the application for its accessibility, which is referred to as accessibility testing. 

This testing type assesses the application to ensure that it is easy to use for people with different impairments, such as vision, hearing, cognitive, etc. Simply put, it ensures that a specific application is accessible to every type of user, whether a regular user or physically challenged.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 16% of the world’s total population has some kind of disability.  

Hence, to make digital content accessible to these people, organizations incorporate accessibility testing in their development process. 

In this blog post, we will discuss everything about accessibility testing.

What is Accessibility Testing?

Accessibility testing is a type of software testing to validate an application, website, or software product for its usability by people with hearing, vision, color blindness, and motor disabilities. In other words, it involves assessing the application to ensure it meets the needs of people with certain disabilities.

As this testing type ensures the application’s usability and accessibility, we can refer to it as the subset of usability testing. Many also refer to accessibility testing as 508 compliance testing. 

The primary goal of this testing type is to ensure that the application is accessible to all types of users. It uncovers and addresses all issues that prevent people with disabilities from using the application. 

Accessibility testing can be carried out manually or by using software tools. Surprisingly, many testing teams adopt the hybrid approach, where they leverage software tools and a few manual methodologies to verify the accessibility of software applications. 

Speech recognition software, screen reader software, screen magnification software, and special keyboards are examples of assistive technology for disabled people.

Importance of Accessibility Testing

The foremost importance of accessibility testing is to ensure that software products are usable by every type of user, regardless of any kind of disability. Some other reasons that state the importance of accessibility testing are as follows-

  • Expanded User Base – As stated earlier, around 16% of the world’s total population suffers from disabilities. As a result, making a software product accessible to every kind of user expands the user base. It can satisfy the needs of different sets of audiences and attract more users. Hence, organizations have adopted accessibility testing as part of the software testing life cycle (STLC). 
  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance – Many countries impose laws and regulations on organizations to develop digital solutions so that people with impairments can access them effortlessly. If a software product does not conform to legal and regulatory compliance, it may harm the organization’s reputation or result in financial penalties.
  • Business Benefit – When a software product caters to the needs of all user groups, it will be used by a large number of users. This is beneficial for organizations in terms of revenue.
  • Improved User Experience – Accessibility and usability are major factors in determining the quality of a software product. If it is accessible by all types of users, it, indeed, becomes usable. Also, it significantly improves user experiences.

What Disabilities Should an Application Accommodate? 

The following are typical disabilities the application should support: 

  1. Vision – Visual issues, like strobe and flashing effects, complete or partial color blindness, and poor vision. 
  2. Physical – Poor motor skills, like slow hand movements and muscle slowness, and inability to use keyboard or mouse with one hand. 
  3. Cognitive – Not able to understand complex issues, learning difficulties, and poor memory. 
  4. Literacy – Reading issues. 
  5. Hearing – Hearing impairments, deafness, and mild to profound hearing loss.

Checklist for Accessibility Testing

The following are the parameters you must consider while testing your application for accessibility: 

  1. Color Contrast – Validate that the color contrast for the background and text suits visually impaired people suffering from color blindness and low vision. 
  1. Text Alternatives – Make sure to have the text alternatives for all non-text content, such as images, videos, icons, graphs, etc. The text alternative describes the purpose of the content. 
  1. Keyboard Accessibility – Check that all functionality of an application can be accessed through the keyboard without the use of the mouse. Also, verify whether users can navigate the application using the keyboard’s Tab key. 
  1. Resizeable Text – Validate that your application supports resizing text without breaking content or layout or becoming inaccessible. Additionally, verify the resizeable text behavior on different browsers and platforms. 
  1. Navigation – Having clear and consistent navigation throughout the application is essential. This makes it easy for users to access any functionality from any page of the application or website. 
  1. Labels and Form Fields – Verify that all form fields have appropriate labels to make them understandable and readable for users.  
  1. Language – Validate whether an application or website is available in multiple languages to cover a large user base. Users should be able to change the application’s language to the desired one quickly. 
  1. Error Messages – Check all error messages are displayed timely and convey sufficient information to users. 
  1. Compliance – The website or application should meet certain accessibility standards, such as WCAG 2.0 AA, WCAG 2.1 AA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act.

How to Perform Accessibility Testing?

As mentioned earlier, we can perform accessibility testing manually and by using software tools. The following are some generic steps involved in this type of testing: 

  1. Understand the Accessibility Guidelines and Standards – The first step is to review and comprehend the accessibility guidelines and standards for the product under development. 
  1. Create Test Scenarios – Determine what different aspects of your application you would like to test. For instance, you want to verify your application’s color contrast, screen reader compatibility, and keyboard navigation. Additionally, identify the scope of testing. 
  1. Prepare the Test Environment – To create the test environment, determine what different tools, software, and hardware you require and arrange them accordingly. 
  1. Manual/Automated Testing – Evaluate some aspects of your website using manual testing, such as screen reader compatibility, navigation using the keyboard, etc. Use different tools or software to uncover various accessibility issues, such as missing alternative texts, poor color contrast, etc. 
  1. Evaluate the Results – After testing, evaluate the results and look for defects or issues that need addressing. Report the same to the development team. 
  1. Fix Issues and Retest  – After fixing the detected accessibility issues and errors, the application is retested to ensure that there are no existing or new potential accessibility bugs. 
  1. Documenting and Reporting  – Document the testing process, new learnings, and the approaches undertaken to solve issues. Report the same to stakeholders.

Scenarios Where Accessibility Testing Requires Manual Approach 

Let us discuss some scenarios where testing your application for accessibility requires the manual approach: 

  1. Keyboard Accessibility – It involves verifying whether users can navigate through the application only using the keyboard without the intervention of the mouse or other devices. This ensures that users with disabilities can rely on the keyboard to interact with the application and access all its features. 
  1. Screen Reader Compatibility – Screen readers are software tools that read the content aloud, helping visually impaired users to understand what’s there in the application. Testers can use NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) or VoiceOver screen readers to test the screen reader compatibility of the application. They evaluate whether the application can present the information correctly and accurately. 
  1. Visual Elements – Manual testing assists in evaluating the visibility and clarity of the application’s visual elements, such as icons, graphs, charts, images, etc. It helps testers identify whether all visual elements convey the information they intended to do. 
  1. Responsive Design – Manual testing is beneficial in assessing the responsiveness of the application, i.e., determining how it behaves or operates on devices of different sizes. It uncovers usability or layout issues arising in configurations. 
  1. Multimedia Accessibility – Testers can determine whether multimedia content has alternative texts or captions for visually impaired people.

Myths and Facts Related to Accessibility Testing

Here are some common misconceptions about accessibility testing. Let us burst these myths with facts. 

Myth 1: Accessibility Testing is Only for Disabled People. 

Fact: Though the primary focus of accessibility testing is around disabled people, it improves the application’s overall performance and credibility.

Myth 2: Accessibility Testing is Expensive. 

Fact: Though this testing type requires resources and effort, it is cost-effective in the long run. Incorporating accessibility testing from the beginning, i.e., design and development stages, helps identify potential issues in the early stages.  

Myth 3: Accessibility Testing is a One-Time Process. 

Fact: Accessibility testing should be a continuous process throughout the application’s development cycle. Regular testing ensures that the application’s accessibility is maintained and uncovers any new accessibility bugs when new features are added, or existing features are updated.


Myth 4: Accessibility Testing is Necessary Only for Public-Facing Applications.

Fact: This testing is essential for all types of applications, whether internal or public-facing applications. 


This was all about accessibility testing. It is an indispensable process in the software testing life cycle (STLC) to ensure that a software product, application, or website is easy to access for people with physical, hearing, and vision disabilities. Additionally, incorporating accessibility testing into the testing process helps organizations expand their user base, earn custom loyalty, and offer exceptional user experiences.

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