There are more than a billion people in the world that are estimated to live with some form of disability like – Vision Disability, Physical Disability, Cognitive Disability, Literacy Disability, Hearing Disability etc. which accounts for a whopping 15% of the entire population in the world, prevalence being higher for developing nations. Now, considering that such a significant percentage of population experiences one or the other form of disability, it is our social as well as moral responsibility to be a generation of people who believe in equality and inclusivity of all, be it in terms of jobs, technology, education, sports and everything else, basically having a belief in the goal of – “ACCESS TO ALL”, so that the people with disabilities can enjoy their freedom on an equal basis with others.
Now, in order to achieve that goal, it is of course very important to keep in mind that there are things that will need to be done differently for the people with special needs than how they are done for the regular people, be it – employing people with disabilities, social inclusion at schools and workplaces, designing disability friendly vehicles, developing software, smart devices and so on.
First time the accessibility law was enforced was the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990 and since then there have been several versions for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) further strengthening the position of specially abled.
What is Accessibility Testing?
Accessibility Testing, as the name suggests is done to ensure that the software applications developed for different platforms like – web, mobile etc. can be used by people who have any type of disabilities like – visual impairment, hearing problems, color blindness etc. It is a more extensive branch of Usability Testing. This is done to ensure that information via any medium is accessible to all. By making our Software, our applications disable-friendly we ensure that there is definitive inclusion of each and everyone in the society.
Why is Accessibility Testing gaining prominence?
Considering that 15% of our population accounts for the people with special needs, it is important to keep in mind that our product should also target this audience, should be designed keeping in mind their needs as well. As we might have heard, that education opens doors for everyone, but in today’s day and age, being Internet educated opens doors for everyone in terms of growth and sustainability. There are organizations which have specifically started testing their products for Accessibility before the products are rolled out in market.
How can we incorporate changes to achieve this?
By providing assistance to these customers by implementing – Assistive Technology, which can be done by incorporating things like –
- Screen Readers – For the people with visual impairment, it is important to provide assistance in a way that the software they need to use, converts the displayed text to audio and read it to the user.
- Video Calls – For the people with speech impairment, it helps to use the video calls instead of audio calls, as they can use the sign language to communicate better and effectively.
- Special Keyboards – For people having motor disabilities, it helps if they can have special keyboard functions instead of having to use mouse which require special type of placement, movement and control.
- Special softwares for Color Blindness – For people with color blindness, it helps to build the websites with color blindness simulators embedded in them, targeting impairments such as – tritanopia ( a condition where a person cannot distinguish between the color yellow and blue) and several other visual deficiencies.
Accessibility Testing trends so far –
Accessibility Testing is done both manually and using Automation, the latter being more convenient and successfulas when using the traditional manual setup the testers cannot entirely cover the scenarios that need to be tested due to the unfamiliarity of all the challenges faced by the people with special needs. So, what we trying to test here is –
- If the colors used for a website are all inclusive and the user is able to see properly if they have color blindness.
- If the screen reader is able to convert all the text and able to narrate it correctly.
- If the user is able to zoom the text without a layout change.
- To have closed captions option for people with hearing disabilities.
- To see if the application has audio alerts.
And so on.
Tools used for Accessibility Testing –
- Accessibility Checker
- Accessibility Management Platform
- Accessibility Viewer
- AXE Chrome Plugin
- ComplyFirst Professional
Including Accessibility Testing brings something to the table for both the parties. This is how-
Customer Perspective –
- Bing Internet-educated brings more employment opportunities.
- Makes them financially-independent.
- Brings confidence due to a feeling of social acceptance.
- Provides more learning opportunities.
- Brings in equality irrespective of any difference.
Business Perspective –
- Increases the % of target audience, which in turn makes a product more profitable.
- Helps in developing a positive brand image.
- Brings in more web-traffic, thus making a website more popular.
So, it’s sort of a win-win for everybody!