Welcome back to our series on Digital Accessibility Testing Fundamentals! In this second installment, we’ll discuss some of the automation testing techniques and tools for digital accessibility.
Automation testing for digital accessibility refers to the use of automated tools and techniques to assess the accessibility of digital products such as websites, web applications, and mobile applications. It involves employing specialized software and scripts to automatically execute test cases and identify potential accessibility issues.
Digital accessibility aims to ensure that people with disabilities can access and use digital content without barriers. It involves complying with accessibility standards and guidelines, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provide best practices for creating accessible digital experiences.
Automated Testing Techniques for Web Accessibility
Color Contrast Testing
Color contrast is crucial for users with visual impairments to read content on websites. Automated testing tools can analyze color combinations on web pages and flag instances where the contrast fails to meet accessibility guidelines specified in the WCAG. This helps ensure that text and graphical elements are readable for all users. Download color contrast analyser here .
Alt Text Testing
Alternative text, or alt text, provides a textual description of images, enabling visually impaired users to understand the content. Automated testing can ensure that alt text is present for all images and accurately describes the visual content. Tools can detect missing alt text or provide suggestions for improving existing descriptions.
Headings and Document Structure Testing
Proper document structure is vital for users who navigate websites using assistive technologies like screen readers. Automated testing tools can verify that heading levels (e.g., h1, h2, etc.) are used appropriately and that the overall structure of the page follows accessibility guidelines. This helps users with disabilities navigate and understand the content more effectively.
Keyboard Accessibility Testing
Digitally Accessible Experiences: Why It Matters and How to Create Them
It’s more critical than ever that your digital assets are easily accessible and usable to all of your users. Adopting an accessibility-first design mindset can help your business create a stronger digital presence and an enhanced user experience for all users and ultimately drive more business.
Keyboard accessibility is essential for users who rely on keyboard navigation instead of a mouse. Automated testing can simulate keyboard interactions and ensure that all interactive elements on a web page, such as buttons, links, and form fields, can be accessed and operated using keyboard commands. It can also detect any focus-related issues, such as elements that are not keyboard focusable or have an inconsistent focus order.
Form Validation and Error Messaging Testing
Forms are common components of web applications, and ensuring their accessibility is crucial. Automated testing can validate form fields for attributes like labels, error messaging, and validation feedback. It can identify missing or improperly associated labels, detect insufficient error messages, and highlight areas where improvements are needed to make forms more accessible.
Language and Readability Testing
Automated testing tools can analyze the language of web content and ensure that it is correctly identified. This is particularly important for assistive technologies that rely on language information to provide appropriate pronunciation and voice settings. Tools can also check for readability issues such as long paragraphs, complex sentence structures, or excessive jargon, which may pose challenges for users with cognitive disabilities.
Automation Testing Tools for Web Accessibility
- Deque AXE DevTools: Deque AXE DevTools is a Chrome extension that integrates the power of the Axe accessibility engine into the Chrome Developer Tools. It allows developers to quickly run accessibility tests on web pages during the development process, providing real-time feedback on accessibility issues.
Accessibility Insights for Web: Accessibility Insights for Web is an extension for Chrome and the new Microsoft Edge that helps developers find and fix accessibility issues in web apps and sites.
- Tenon.io: Tenon.io offers powerful automated accessibility testing features, including support for color contrast testing, alt text validation, keyboard accessibility, and more. It provides comprehensive reports with actionable insights, helping teams prioritize and address accessibility issues effectively.
- WebAIM’s WAVE: WAVE is a tool for performing automated accessibility testing directly within the browser. It provides real-time feedback on accessibility issues, checks color contrast, alt text, heading structure, and more. WAVE assists developers in identifying and resolving accessibility problems during the development phase.
- Pa11y: Pa11y is another open-source accessibility testing tool that automates accessibility testing and provides detailed reports. It supports command-line usage as well as integration with task runners like Grunt and Gulp, making it convenient for automated testing workflows.
- Google Lighthouse: Lighthouse is an automated testing tool built into the Chrome browser’s Developer Tools. It not only evaluates web performance but also includes an accessibility audit feature. Lighthouse generates comprehensive reports that highlight accessibility issues and provide recommendations for improvement.
- AccessLint: AccessLint is a GitHub integration that automatically reviews your code for accessibility issues. It scans your codebase for potential accessibility violations and provides feedback through GitHub pull requests, making it convenient for automated accessibility testing within the development workflow.
- Siteimprove Accessibility: Siteimprove Accessibility is a comprehensive automated accessibility testing tool that offers a range of features, including automated scanning, issue prioritization, and detailed reports. It also provides integration with content management systems (CMS) to facilitate continuous monitoring and improvement of accessibility.
- ARC Toolkit : ARC Toolkit is a professional-level accessibility testing tool that gives you the power to quickly and efficiently evaluate screens for accessibility and uncover issues related to the WCAG 2.1 Level A and AA guidelines. It is designed to be integrated into automated and manual accessibility tests and works alongside the auditor or developer in order to simplify repetitive tasks and interactively explore accessibility features and problems. The ARC Toolkit is tightly integrated with Chrome’s Developer Tools.
We will delve deeper into specific automated testing tools for our future posts.
By automating these and other accessibility testing processes, organizations can more effectively identify and address accessibility issues, ensuring that their digital products are inclusive and usable for all users. It complements manual testing efforts, allowing for a more comprehensive evaluation of accessibility features and improving overall accessibility compliance.
For more information on why accessibility is important in general, you can check out my previous blog post here.
For further information on how to make your product accessible to your audience, contact our experienced design experts, check out our Accessibility IQ for your website, download our guide Digitally Accessible Experiences: Why It Matters and How to Create Them, read more from our UX for Accessible Design series.
So, What Comes Next?
In the next post, we’ll continue our exploration of User testing techniques.
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