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Manual and User Accessibility Testing
One of the key areas that we need to invest in is Manual testing along with automated testing tools, writes Shilpi Kapoor of BarrierBreak Technologies.
Accessibility is about persons with disabilities. It is not possible for a tool alone to claim that a web page or a web application is accessible. Often, accessibility testing is being conducted by using an automated testing tool. To ensure compliance of websites or even to maintain websites this is an important strategy, but we must not ignore the fine print of most accessibility testing tools. Most of these tools will mention that human intervention or checks are required. For example, a testing tool can tell you whether an image has been given an alternate text but it cannot tell you whether the alternate text is accurate. This check needs to be conducted manually.
In addition, the users that we are building inclusion for are people with disabilities and they have very diverse needs. It is also important to conduct User testing with different types of disabilities to ensure that the website or web application is truly accessible by different user groups. Persons with disabilities actually test the website or application using their assistive technology which might be a screen reader, screen magnifier, reading writing tool, on-screen keyboard, etc.
I believe that the user testing is key to the accessibility implementation of a website or application. At BarrierBreak, we have also included people with disabilities into our primary testing by ensuring that design, templates, controls, navigation, etc., are always first tested by people with disabilities, before they are put in a production environment. Thereby accessibility is part of the process and not an afterthought, where it then is expensive to implement.
Another type of testing that we conduct is Task based testing
For example for some of our clients, we have just tested 10 scenarios with 5 different disability groups, to see whether they can perform the required tasks. Task based testing is a measure to see how people with disabilities actually perform tasks on their own using the assistive technology.
At the end, to ensure compliance towards accessibility guidelines, a combination of testing strategies need to be planned which include automated testing, manual testing, user testing and task based testing.
Shilpi Kapoor is the founder director of Net Systems Informatics (I) Pvt Ltd. and BarrierBreak Technologies. She setup both these companies with a single vision to 'break the barriers of knowledge and disabilities'. She is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and has been trained in the field of Section 508 and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
The article originally appears in 'Understanding Web Accessibility - A Guide to Create Accessible Work Environments', published by NASSCOM Foundation. Download Publication.