Accessibility means that people with disabilities can access the same things as those without a disability.
Web accessibility allows people with disabilities to be able to understand, navigate, interact, and contribute to information on the web.
Accessible practices can be good for everyone and including more people in your business can give you access to a larger pool of potential customers. There are many benefits that come with accessibility that are beyond legal protections, such as the good will such an act creates, and the relationships you can build in your community. Including everyone is more than just the right thing to do and accessibility can be seen as a smart business decision overall. It also contributes to better SEO ratings. Accessibility testing ensures that the job gets done right, that your message is free from errors and meets the standards of accessible communication.
Therefore accessibility means to take up social responsibility and improve your business.
In this blog, Laveena Ramchandani, Senior Test Consultant and Marie Drake, Principal Test Automation Engineer will take you through how to introduce accessibility testing in your team. Some things we have heard which made us both look into it further was “not spoken about it a lot”, “who is responsible for it”, “why do we need accessibility testing?”, “Can we not release a product facing application without this testing?”.
How to introduce it in your teams?
Top tips for you on how to introduce this in YOUR teams:
1.Read up on accessibility testing and understand that this is something you can bring in to the table. Rather, if you have a customer facing product, we should advocate that accessibility testing is something that we need to do.
2. Understand from the team what Level is your firm looking to provide to clients Level A, Level AA or Level AAA
3. Start with some research of tools that might already be in the company
4. Present to the wider team all your findings ( you could do some testing prior to presenting)
a.Start with a small meeting with the head of QA or engineering
b.Show and tell to the entire team with some examples
c.Get some discussion in place basically to make everyone think
5. Include design team in all meetings
6. Aim to bring it in when new designs are being implemented/ improved
7. Be proud as a team being a socially aware team and who can reach more customer base
8. If you can, start early. But if the product is already live in production, then start now. Small improvements can make a big difference.
9. Use your keyboard a lot. You’ll be surprised by how many accessibility issues a simple keyboard can catch.
10. Continue learning about accessibility testing. Follow accessibility experts and advocates on Twitter and connect with them. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn.
Do not fall for these myths:
Accessible websites are ugly and boring
Not really, you are not forbidden from using nice images/videos. Now if you do use them, just make sure that the content of the website is still accessible if the users are not able to, or choose not to, use them.
Web accessibility is expensive, time-consuming & hard to implement
If Accessibility is thought of at the beginning, then it’s not time consuming. We need to shift accessibility to the left and get everyone involved.
Accessible sites only benefit small percentages of people
15% of the entire world population are classified as disable so it benefits a lot.
Think about the “curb effect”. Curbs were created for disabled people but everyone benefits from it!
Web accessibility is optional
Accessible websites are easier to understand and use as opposed to one that is inaccessible. Making the web an inclusive place should not be optional.
Web accessibility is the sole responsibility of developers
It’s everyone’s responsibility! For example, whose responsibility is it to add alt texts on images?
Automated evaluation tools are enough
Only 20–40% of accessibility issues are caught by accessibility tools so human intervention is still pretty much required. Accessibility tools are here to help us not replace us. We can build a website that passes all the automated accessibility guidelines and have a 100% accessibility score in Lighthouse but this does not automatically mean that it’s accessible. Check out Building the most inaccessible site possible with a perfect Lighthouse score for more information.
Making websites accessible doesn’t have any additional benefits
As we can see from the image below, there are so many additional benefits such as:
- Encourages best coding practices within the team
- Improves page performance
- Boosts a company’s reputation
- Increase company profits
- Higher customer satisfaction
- Encourages independence among all users
- Removes the risk of getting caught by the law
- Widens your customer audience
- Improvement in SEO
To read more about accessibility myths, you can access Marie’s blog too.
How have we both introduced it ?
- Started raising awareness by initiating discussion with design team, what WCAG version and conformance level to aim for (WCAG 2.1 Level AA)
- Added it as part of our testing strategy and started to do research about accessibility testing, what we can automate and what needs to be tested manually
- Researched what tools we can integrate in our CI pipeline so we can catch basic accessibility issues and shift accessibility testing to the left
- Getting it discussed during tech analysis or refinement sessions so everyone on the team is familiar with what tests need to be done
- Sent out a testing survey to the wider teams to get an understanding as to which other teams are doing accessibility testing. Since the response on accessibility testing is low, I’ve started sharing more resources to other QA engineers on how they can start accessibility testing.
- Doing flash talk sessions to the wider business to give them an introduction to web accessibility and one of our developers also talked about how to use Screen Reader to educate the team.
- Started a discussion with the head of project spreading eminence around accessibility testing
- I then presented this to the team aiming to bring in WCAG Level AA to Level AAA
- I have also presented this to the UX design team. Now in design catch up sessions, accessibility is looked into when new features are being designed. Therefore, a test strategy when designing nee features
- Anything new that I learn, I introduce it in the design UX catch up sessions (Lighthouse, removing all images from the site, colour contrasts, tabbing, axe, Chromelense, etc)
- As Marie very rightly has mentioned above, it is a team responsibility, this is a huge aspect for a product, to be socially aware
Is accessibility testing costly?
This is something I have been curious about in the past and also feel that it could be a reason for it getting pushed out of scope? After doing some research myself and learning from different peoples opinions I think accessibility testing can be done for FREE. How though? Let me tell you how, so there are plenty of tools which can do soft checks if your web application lies within the level agreed ( AA/AAA), colour contrasting tools, visual disability plugins, tabbing and even in-built screen readers. What is costly is if this is not tested sooner. A product can go out live however, it may be full of accessibility issues as well as not reaching a bigger customer base. Fixing these issues is what builds up costs and time and team efforts. Therefore in my opinion get involved with accessibility now, not later.
You can also find some useful tools in my previous blog post, Accessibility for all .
Awareness of accessibility is high in UX at present, however awareness does not always translate into practice. It is imperative that businesses are designing with accessibility in mind from the outset. Businesses understand the importance of usability testing throughout, but what is user experience testing when it does not include all users? Investing in accessibility will undoubtedly make you more profitable as you set to make your service available to millions who previously could not use it. Not only this, but it could potentially save you thousands, even millions in future legal claims. So if not now, when?