How can you test web accessibility?

Date: November 2017

What is web accessibility?

There are over 11 million people in the UK who are affected by long-term illness, impairment or disability. As a result companies are increasingly recognising the importance of having a website which is accessible to all, regardless of disability.

Corporate social responsibility combined with the potential financial issues and legal implications arising from inaccessible websites have increased the importance of accessibility testing. Also, maximising the numbers of users a website caters for and improving their user experience on the site can have a positive financial impact on traffic and conversions. With the Government estimating that the spending power of families with at least one disabled person is over £200bn a year, it is easy to understand how good web accessibility can lead to a direct increase in revenue.

Web accessibility guidelines – WCAG 2.0
web accessibility WCAG monitor

Following the Disability Equality Act (2010) there has been a progressively more inclusive attitude towards those with disabilities. This combined with an aging and increasingly diverse population has increased the importance of finding and resolving web accessibility issues as early as possible. Therefore companies are more commonly taking steps to design and modify websites to allow for equal and all inclusive functionality for users regardless of their circumstances.

Companies largely look to adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) which are the universally accepted guidelines for accessibility. WCAG 2.0 is split into three categories A/AA/AAA, with A being the most basic to fulfill and AAA being the most complex. The majority of companies will look to comply to a the WCAG 2.0 AA standard, mirroring government bodies in the UK. There are several different ways AA standards can be met through accessibility testing.

Accessibility testing

The quickest and most cost effective way is a web accessibility Ten10 accessibility icontool-based approach where websites are scanned for code errors. Typically only 30% of issues are found this way so for optimum results it is best combining a number of tools with a manual test approach where the tester views the website from the perspective of various disabled users.

Whilst this is more time consuming, requires a level of empathy from the tester and the issues found are more subjective, they are often the most critical issues disabled users encounter on a daily basis.

The importance of tool selection cannot be overstated. To make sure the right tools are selected you should consider factors such as; who the company’s user base are, their target audience and the market which they operate. Other standard criteria for software testing tool selection should also be considered including; the technology stack and platform(s) used to develop the website, internal pre-existing skills if there is an in-house test team, what the current and future engagement model will be for accessibility testing i.e. fully outsourced, in-house or a hybrid model, and if there will be an in-house requirement then considering any pre-existing internal skills or tool proficiency, finally of course, budget will also be a factor. Selecting the incorrect tools can result in missed commercial opportunities and failure to conform to WCAG 2.0 Guidelines.

In order for accessibility testing to be effective, companies need to acknowledge that it is a continual process and that they cannot become fully compliant with WCAG 2.0 guidelines after one round of testing. Changing attitudes towards those with disabilities and advances in technologies mean that companies should be assessing how their websites and products can evolve to maximise levels of accessibility and improve the user experience for all.

To find out how Ten10 can help you with accessibility testing, please request a call back. We endeavour to respond to all requests within 60 minutes during business hours.