Accessibility Testing in Software Engineering

Accessibility testing is a sort of software testing that ensures that the application under assessment is useable by individuals with impairments such as hearing loss, color blindness, old age, and other disadvantaged people. Usability Testing is a part of it.

People with impairments utilize assistive technology to help them operate software. Here are some examples of such software −

  • Speech Recognition Software - It converts spoken words to text, which is then used as input by the computer.

  • Screen reader software - This program is used to read aloud the text that is shown on the screen.

  • Screen Magnification Software - This software is used to expand the monitor and make reading easier for visually challenged people.

  • Special Keyboard - Users with motor control issues will benefit from a special keyboard designed for simple typing.

You will learn the following in this tutorial −

  • What is accessibility testing?

  • Why is accessibility testing necessary?

  • Which disabilities to support?

  • How do you perform accessibility testing?

  • Tools for Testing Accessibility

  • Accessibility Testing Myths

Why is accessibility testing necessary?

Reason 1 − Cater to the Disabled Market.

Disability affects around 20% of the population.

  • One out of every ten persons has a severe handicap.

  • One in every two persons over the age of 65 has diminished skills.

Blindness, deafness, handicapping, and other bodily diseases are examples of disabilities.

If a software product is made accessible to the disabled, it may appeal to this large market. Accessibility problems in software can be overcome if Accessibility Testing is integrated into the standard software testing life cycle.

Reason 2 − Comply with Accessibility Laws

Government authorities all across the globe have issued legalizations requiring challenged persons to be able to use IT goods.

The following are legal acts enacted by various governments -

  • United States − Americans with Disabilities Act – 1990

  • United Kingdom − Disability Discrimination Act – 1995

  • Australia − Disability Discrimination Act – 1992

  • Ireland − Disability Act of 2005

Legal compliance necessitates accessibility testing.

Reason 3 − Avoid Potential Legal Action

In the past, Fortune 500 businesses have been prosecuted because their goods were not accessible to people with disabilities. Here are a few notable examples.

  • National Federation for the Blind (NFB) vs Amazon (2007)

  • Sexton and NFB vs. Target (2007)

  • NFB Vs AOL settlement (1999)

It is preferable to design goods that assist the disabled in order to prevent potential litigation.

Which disabilities to support?

The application must assist persons with impairments such as -

Type of DisabilityDescription
Vision Disability
  • Blindness, color blindness, or vision problems

  • Visual issues such as visual strobe and flashing effect issues

Physical Disability
  • Unable to operate the mouse or keyboard with one hand.

  • Hand motions and muscular sluggishness, which are examples of poor motor abilities.

Cognitive disability
  • Learning Difficulties, Poor Memory, or inability to comprehend increasingly complicated circumstances

Literacy Disability
  • Problems in reading

Hearing Disability
  • Auditory issues such as deafness and hearing loss

  • Inability to hear or inability to hear clearly

How do you perform accessibility testing?

There are two techniques to do accessibility testing −

  • Manual

  • Automated

The following points must be validated before the program may be utilized by all users. This list is used to complete accessibility testing.

  • Is there a keyboard replacement for all mouse actions and windows in an application?

  • Whether instructions are included in user documentation or a manual? Is it simple to learn and use the program using the documentation?

  • Is it possible to organize tabs rationally to guarantee seamless navigation?

  • Is it possible to have shortcut keys for menus?

  • Is the program compatible with all operating systems?

  • Is the response time of each screen or page clearly stated so that End Users know how long they will have to wait?

  • Is it possible that all labels in the application are appropriately written?

  • Is the application's color adjustable for all users?

  • Whether pictures or symbols are utilized correctly so that end users may readily understand them?

  • Is it possible for an application to include audio alerts?

  • Is it possible for a user to change the audio or visual controls?

  • Is it possible for a user to alter the default fonts for printing and text displays?

  • Is it possible for the user to change or deactivate flashing, rotating, or moving displays?

  • Is it possible to see highlighting with reversed colors? Color testing in the application by varying the contrast ratio

  • Is it possible for persons with disabilities to hear audio and visual content? All multimedia pages on websites with no speakers should be tested.

  • Is training given for users with impairments so that they can become acquainted with the program or application?

Because testers are inexperienced with impairments, accessibility testing may be difficult. It is preferable to deal with handicapped persons who have special requirements in order to comprehend their difficulties.

Depending on the impairment, there are many methods for testing accessibility. We'll understand them all one by one.

  • 1. Vision Disability

    Let's pretend I don't have the capacity to see. I am entirely blind, and I needed to get to "ABC" Website. In such situation, what do you think are your options? There is a one-word option called "Screen reader". What exactly is this Screen Reader? It is a piece of software that is used to narrate online material. Essentially, what is on your website?, whether it is text, a link, a radio button, images, a video, or something else. Everything will be narrated for me by a screen reader. There are a plethora of Screen Readers present like "Jaws".

    Basically, if you launch Jaws or another screen reader and then navigate to a webpage, it will narrate the entire text to you. For example, if I launch Jaws and then the browser, Jaws will announce: "Mozilla Firefox start page"; if I go to the address bar, Jaws will announce: "ADDRESS BAR"; and then put into the address bar, Jaws will read aloud everything text by text.

    Now if a website is badly planned and built, it is conceivable (and often does) that jaws will be unable to narrate proper material, resulting in inaccessibility for Blind People. (For example, if Jaws is narrating a link as content, a blind person would never realize it's a link, and if it's a critical one for that website, n that situation, website business would suffer a significant loss.

  • Visual Impairment

    Under the heading of vision impairment, I'd like to highlight two groups. Color Blindness is the first. Color blindness is defined as not being fully blind but being unable to see a certain color adequately. Red and blue are the most frequent hues that persons with color blindness cannot see well. So, if I have red color blindness and want to utilize a website that is 80 percent red, what should I do? Would I feel at ease on that website? No.

    As a result, a website should be constructed in such a way that a person with color blindness may easily view it. Consider a basic example of a red button. If it is highlighted in black, it will be more visible. Then it is simple to access. Normally, black and white are thought to be universal.

  • Poor Vision Disability

    The second point is that a person with bad vision or with other eyesight problems (there are numerous eye problems connected to the retina, etc.) cannot visit any site.

    1) In such circumstances, it is preferable to avoid using tiny font because it would be extremely beneficial to those with poor eyesight.

    2) In addition, persons with vision problems would like to be able to zoom in on the text on the website to make it more pleasant for them. As a result, a website should be built in such a way that when expanding it, the layout does not break when magnifying the text. Otherwise, they will be left with a negative impression.

  • Other Disability

    Browsing the Website without the use of a Mouse is a critical consideration in Accessibility Testing for Disabled Audiences. A user should be able to fully access the website by using the keyboard to access the links, buttons, radio buttons, checkboxes, pop-ups, dropdowns, and all other controls.

    For example, if I am right-handed paraplegic and am not familiar with or refuse using a mouse, what should I do? In that situation, if I am unable to access links or checkboxes on the site using the keyboard, what should I do? As a result, a website should be fully accessible through Keyboard.

  • User with Hearing Impairment

    A deaf person can visit the website since he can see the material on it. However, when it comes to audio and video, they run into problems. As a result, there should be Alt text for any video and audio. Alt text is an abbreviation for alternative text. Assume there is a video showing how to book an airplane ticket. In that scenario, the text should be included so that a deaf person may read it and understand what the film is about.

Tools for Testing Accessibility

It is critical that your webpage be easily accessible in order to make it more accepted and user-friendly. There are numerous accessibility testing tools available to assess the website's accessibility.

Some of the most common Accessibility Testing Tools are as follows −

  • Wave

    WEBAIM's Wave is a free web accessibility tool. It is used to manually verify the web page for several areas of accessibility. This tool is useful for checking intranet, password-protected, dynamically created, or sensitive web sites. Web Accessibility Toolbar's main tasks include recognizing webpage components, giving access to alternate views of page content, and simplifying the usage of third-party online apps. It guarantees that all accessibility reporting is completely confidential and safe.

  • TAW

    TAW is an online tool for assessing your website's accessibility. This tool examines the website in compliance with W3C web accessibility rules and displays concerns with accessibility. Priority 1 problems are prioritized, followed by priority 2 problems, and finally, priority 3 concerns are prioritized. TAW's ability to produce subsets of WCAG 1.0 to test against is an intriguing capability. You may use the TAW tool to evaluate a single page or several pages by "spidering" a website. TAW also lets us create extra tests using the "User Checking" dialogue box.

  • Accessibility Valet

    It is a program that enables you to assess the adherence of web pages with the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). All HTML reporting options display your markup in a normalized format, indicating deprecated, bogus, and legal markup as well as misplaced components. This utility has a number of features, including

    • Developers will benefit from detailed reports.

    • Executive summary for Quality Assurance and Management

    • Metadata for the semantic web and the World Wide Web

    • Html to XHtml conversion and automatic cleaning

  • Accessibility Developer Tools

    It's a Google Chrome extension. It also does an accessibility audit. The audit findings reveal that the Page under Test violates accessibility standards. The extension has received positive feedback and is constantly updated.

  • Quick Accessibility Page Tester

    Quick Page Accessibility Tester is a bookmark that you may use to receive a quick examination of the web page because there are several great accessibility toolbars. It will identify different difficulties with your page, warn you about potential concerns, and indicate sections of the page that may benefit from ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications).

  • aDesigner

    This is an IBM program that mimics the condition of visually impaired persons in order for designers to better understand the requirements of disadvantaged people and build apps appropriately.

  • WebAnywhere

    This is a browser-based application that functions similarly to screen readers such as Jaws. It instructs viewers on how to read the web page.

  • Web accessibility toolbar

    WAT is an Internet Explorer or Opera plugin that provides web page designers with important tools for web page inspection. One of the greatest features is the Grayscale function, which assists in locating low contrast areas in the design.


Accessibility testing in software engineering aids in making your program accessible to people with disabilities. If adhering to accessibility rules is impossible owing to the difficulty of your web application, create two versions of the website − one for ordinary users and one for disabled users.

Updated on: 29-Nov-2021


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