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Testing accessibility is important for web and mobile applications. Here, we break down why automated accessibility testing is important. And we share how to automate accessibility testing with the right tools.
Accessibility testing is a type of testing done to ensure that your apps are usable by as many people as possible. Automated accessibility testing helps expedite your release cycle and identify issues early.
Accessibility testing is about making your app’s content and services usable by people with disabilities from various types (vision, hearing, etc.). It’s also about ensuring that accessibility information can be discerned and the user interface operated. Automation helps you do this faster and with fewer defects.
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In many cases, accessibility testing is done too late in the software development cycle due to lack of automation process, or lower priority.
Accessibility is as important as any other functional, performance, API, or any other testing that is being created and executed. To make accessibility testing more efficient and sustainable, you need to shift it left. Automation is critical to this.
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Accessibility testing can — and should — be automated.
Most accessibility tests today are done manually — or not at all. Accessibility testing is not part of the lifecycle, and it usually isn’t automated. But it should be.
Accessibility needs to be embedded right from the beginning of development. Like other types of testing, by shifting left, you can identify accessibility defects when they’re less expensive to fix. Once an accessibility defect is in production, the cost to fix it can be 100x higher than when it’s addressed in design.
You need accessibility testing to meet the needs of all users. It is also the law. Between the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Section 508, and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), you have plenty of regulations to meet. Failure to do so could result in fines of $75,000-$150,000.
Automated accessibility testing is important to ensure user satisfaction, comply with market software standards like WCAG, and avoid business loss. This is especially important, as the World Bank estimates that 15% of people have a disability.
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Accessibility testing ensures that everyone can use your web or mobile app. There’s also legislation around accessibility for people with disabilities. Automated accessibility testing helps you comply with this legislation.
This helps you reduce the risk of accessibility defects — and potential lawsuits.
You need to ensure that your apps work with screen readers, speech recognition software, screen magnification, and more. You need to test:
Here’s how to automate accessibility testing.
Accessibility needs to be a focus throughout your Agile process, starting with design.
Design plays an instrumental role in your testing. It provides the meaning for what you will be testing. And much of accessibility is in the meaning.
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Your designers think about the components of their user interface. For example, they think about what a button with a little pencil inside of it does. That is, it pops up the Edit dialog box. The designers communicate what that button is going to do to the rest of the development team. It can then be used by developers to implement the functionality correctly. And you can write automated tests to ensure that the button attribute is what it should be.
This is an important step to automating accessibility testing.
It’s also important to leverage accessibility testing tools.
Accessibility testing can seem insurmountable. That’s because a lot of organizations approach accessibility testing from a manual perspective. With the right tools, you can approach it from an automated perspective.
First, you’ll want to consider generic accessibility testing libraries. They’re available for different platforms, such as HTML, Android, and iOS. They give you a set of acceptance tests for accessibility. We typically find that up 50% of accessibility issues can be found by leveraging these libraries.
Another accessibility testing tool you can leverage is interactive intelligent guided testing. This capability is embedded in a browser extension. For example, it allows developers to test for buttons and links. This ensures that the accessible names associated with buttons and links are accurate.
This is the type of information communicated from designers to developers and testers. You can use this information to write an automated test.
Regression tests are great candidates for automated accessibility testing. You can use the methodology above to create automated regression tests for accessibility. This can help you keep the costs of testing down. And, at the same time, you can eliminate most of your manual testing out of the development process.
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Finally, to automate accessibility testing, you’ll need to have the right test automation platform. Perfecto, for instance, is a great test automation platform for accessibility testing.
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That’s because Perfecto integrates with important tools used in accessibility testing — such as Axe — helping you automate accessibility testing for your web applications. Here's an example of a web accessibility testing report.
For mobile native apps (iOS and Android), leverage Perfecto’s native automated accessibility solution. Here's an example of mobile accessibility testing.
To get started with automated accessibility testing with Perfecto and its various integrations, users need to do the following:
Accessibility testing works best when incorporated into your testing strategies — don’t let it be an afterthought. Align it with your test cycle and sync your results all in one place with Perfecto’s test reporting. You’ll ensure that accessibility defects are caught earlier, when they’re less expensive to fix.
That’s because Perfecto gives you:
See for yourself how you can leverage Perfecto for automated accessibility testing today.
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DevOps Chief Evangelist & Sr. Director at Perforce Software, Perfecto
Eran Kinsbruner is a person overflowing with ideas and inspiration, beyond that, he makes them happen. He is a best-selling author, continuous-testing and DevOps thought-leader, patent-holding inventor (test exclusion automated mechanisms for mobile J2ME testing), international speaker, and blogger.
With a background of over 20 years of experience in development and testing, Eran empowers clients to create products that their customers love, igniting real results for their companies.