The requirement to perform accessibility testing is borne both out of a need to ensure software/websites are accessible to the broadest number of people. Obviously this can be heavily restricted by budget, or perhaps even user demographics. What is indisputable, is that an accessible website will also perform much better from an SEO perspective.
So heartless people take heed, even if you don’t want to help people access your site…you want visitors right!? Joking aside however, it is worth noting that accessibility testing is not the way to ensure that your site is accessible. Nor is it a footnote in the design process. Rather, it is a development tool to ensure that you are developing correctly in the first place. Accessibility testing should not be a replacement for writing good quality, clear, and semantic code.
There are a number of accessibility issues to consider while testing, such as:
- Visual (blindness)
- Colour blindness
- Hearing impairment
- Motor impairment
This is to name but a few. There are standards set out, which can be used to appraise websites which developers and designers should adhere to. These are defined by the organisation W3C, and are known as the WCAG (Web Consortium Accessibility Guidelines).
These guidelines provide information across a range of design and developmental elements to provide information regarding best practices. Additionally, the guidelines provide a tiered compliance system for rating accessibility rating from A to AAA across a range of guidelines. It is recommended that all websites should be able to claim a minimum rating of A. According to this article by the Digital Accessibility Centre however, most websites should strive for at least AA.
To see accessibility testing in practice, see Part Two