Importance of accessibility testing to make software accessible to disabled individuals
Globally there are an estimated 2 billion disabled people from its total current population of 7.8 billion, these disabilities range from physical, sensory, cognitive, or their combination.
This is about 37.5% of the world’s population, i.e. more than 2 billion persons suffer from some form of disabilities.
- Physical disabilities include
- impairment or loss of upper or lower limb, problems in motor skill which may have resulted due to illness, injury,
- Congenital anomalies detected during the prenatal stage such as cerebral palsy that affects physical movement and posture.
- Sensory disabilities include
- Visual impairment those are due to injuries to eyes, blindness, diabetes-related eye conditions, color blindness.
- Hearing loss due to the partial or total hearing inability
- Speech and language disability prevent ability to speak or pronounce.
- Cognitive or Intellectual disabilities
- Congenital disorders which can be identified during the prenatal stage like autism, down syndrome, dementia, dyslexia which is difficulty reading,
- Slow or lack of mental development, below-average intelligence, slower or lagged ability to learn new skills.
Worldwide digital payments amount to US $ 4,769,370 million. Global digital transactions where anyone with access to mobile and network connectivity can access and empower areas related to health, education, labor and employment, commerce, entertainment.
While using these digital technologies users can make cashless payments with global digital payment platforms such as PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, Amazon, E-wallets, Bancontact, and Indian payment platforms such as CCAvenue, PayTM, Google Pay, PhonePe, BHIM, etc.
The software should be designed so that it can be used by all the end-users apart from disabled people.
- Users with poor skills in networking, telephony, cellular technologies like 3G, 4G, LTE.
- Ignorant of computer functionalities
- Those that do not have adequate knowledge in using computer
- Those that have been using older technologies
Accessibility testing is a subset of usability testing, is a process of testing an amount of ease of using the application by disabled individuals. Based on the type of disability various tests are carried out on software to check accessibility features designed specifically for disabled either manually or automatically using tools.
The objective of accessibility testing is listed below
- To make sure that application or software can be used by a disabled individual with ease,
- To verify that the software is in compliance with the laws formed over requirements for accessing software by disabled individuals.
- To make sure that there is no legal action against the software provider in the future.
Accessibility testing should validate the application’s usability by individuals with
- Visual disability like complete blindness, color blindness, unable to stare at flashing screen.
- Hearing disability like partial or complete hearing impaired, that does not allow to hear any audio instructions.
- A physical disability which makes it difficult to use a mouse or keyboard with one hand, due to poor motor skills
- Speech disability that does not allow to record, send audible details, or communicate with anyone using computer interface.
- Intellectual disability making it difficulty reading
- Cognitive disability keeps the user from learning new things, instructions to follow, poor memory does not allow the user to remember or repeat the instructions
Test scenarios to verify the following list of features in software for accessibility:
- Validate users can access page elements in the software with keyboard, this can be checked by removing (unplugging) the mouse from the computer.
- Can user able to access hyperlinks, controls like drop-down, autosuggestion, collapsible panels, combo box, single or multiple list box, date picker, drag n drop, zoom, Hover effect, toggle control, tab
- Check the default element or place where the focus is displaying, the order in which elements are getting their focus.
- Verify for the individuals with dyslexia (who face difficulty reading text on screen), by turning the screen to high contrast mode
- Validate the page by turning the display images off, whether the user understands textual information when images are not being displayed.
- Check the page by turning off the CSS, which removes page style, font color, size, background color, etc will be removed from the pages.
- Validate If the software provides audio or stepwise instructions for use of its forms and modules
- Verify if a disabled individual can give instructions as to his/her inputs via voice-over controls to the software
- Validate if a user is provided with a touch screen as selection criteria and buttons in the application.
Screen Readers like JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, Window-Eyes, and Digital voice recorders of brands like EVISTR, OLYMPUS WS-852, Zoom, Tascam and SONY can be integrated with software to add accessibility feature for disabled individuals.
Accessibility Testing Tools are explained below can be used to validate accessibility features of the software for disabled persons.
- AChecker is an open-source web access evaluation reporting tool, which verifies accessibilities of the web-based application by entering its URL, against international guidelines.
- Accessibility Valet analyses markup for W3C web content accessibility guidelines.
- WAVE – checks HTML pages, URLs of applications by entering its URL to evaluate web accessibility.
- Color Contrast Analyzer, as the name, indicates checks color contrast between foreground and background color combinations and its visibility like its transparency or fade effects.
- Functionality Accessibility Evaluator – checks multiple web pages through web crawlers for accessibility criteria.
Accessibility testing automation tools such as AXE and TAW (Web Accessibility Test) are integrated with selenium, Robot framework, and QTP to validate the accessibility of software by disabled individuals.
Using digital technologies global cashless payment amounts to US $ 4,769,370 million. Web or mobile-based software or devices are used to access areas like health, education, agriculture, labor and employment, entertainment. It is our responsibility to include even disabled individuals which amounts to 37.5% of the total world population to explore and empower them to utilize these applications.
In order for them to access and use the software, various screen readers and voice recorders can be integrated with the software to make them accessible by disabled users. We can validate the software with accessibility testing using the various manual as well as automated tools.
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