Making web more inclusive with Manual Accessibility Testing

People don’t want to miss out on the digital era. And accessibility testing is how we make sure that smart devices and computers are accessible for everyone, regardless of ability or age.

Manual testing is the oldest form of testing in which testing is done via empathy, knowledge, and experience. While automated tests are done on the basis of a set pattern written in code.

Manual accessibility testing is an amalgamation of web browser plugins, assistive computer technologies, and keyboard-only interactions which help testers determine the usability of software, applications, websites or pages.

Why manual accessibility testing is important?

People with laptops and books in front of a desk

Manual accessibility testing is very effective, as it is capable of detecting issues and defects that cannot be traced programmatically. An automation test requires coding, which is time-consuming while testing a number of small changes. Whereas you could test the same functionalities or changes manually on the fly.

Manual testing is mainly needed for keyboard-only commands, compatibility with various assistive technologies, and coordination with color-adjustment plugins for web browsers & software.

Here are the three ‘Must Do’s’ of manual testing:

Screen reader compatibility

Assistive technologies such as screen-readers (Talkback,VoiceOver, JAWS, NVDA, etc.) help people with vision impairments to understand and use the web better by reading what appears on the application.

There are certain assistive situations which are difficult to replicate in an automated setting like- understanding the context of alternative text, determining where links lead, or navigating menus. This is where manual testing is useful to determine how readable your content is for various assistive technologies.

Keyboard only navigation

It’s the most basic and the easiest way of testing accessibility manually. It is done by pressing ‘tab’ key of the keyboard. Ideally, each link will get focused on every ‘tab’ press and thus the user will be able to navigate through the application. Manual accessibility testing helps you determine if your site is optimized for keyboard-only functionality such as accessing all menu, moving between sections of a page and more.

Double-checking the colors

Most of the automated scans and browser plugins are not that accurate with contrast ratio of images related to background images. Manual testing helps in spot check for color contrast, particularly on text overlaid or embedded in images. Manually testing each area of your website against established standards help make sure your content is understandable to a broader range of users.

Who performs manual accessibility testing?

Testing experts and users are two important tester groups for manual accessibility testing. It’s only after getting the web page or application tested by the experts and users that the process of testing is termed successful. The experts test the technical aspects and basic code of the software, whereas users help validate the effectiveness and quality of the accessibility testing.

Testing experts

In manual testing, the software testers execute the test cases and generate test reports without the help of any automation software testing tools. In this process, the tester checks all the essential features of the given software or application.

Group of Users

User testing is mainly performed with the help of assistive technologies (as they check the software from the end users point of view), wherein the users check various features of the web page or software that offer accessibility to every person and not only with disabilities.

Cases where manual accessibility tests are a must

Here are the scenarios when you should go for manual accessibility tests:

Usability Testing

Here, human observation is the most important factor, so a manual approach is preferable. In this type of testing you need to measure how convenient, efficient, or user-friendly the product or software is for the end users.

Exploratory Testing

We need the human curiosity to execute the testing process in this scenario. This is an area in which you require the tester’s creativity, logical/analytical skills, experience, and knowledge. The test is characterized here by a short time for execution and/or a poorly written specification documentation.

Ad-hoc Testing

It is a totally unplanned method of testing where the insight and understanding of the tester is the only important factor. In this type of testing, there is no specific approach.

Manual accessibility testing is more preferable in small projects, when the testing phase runs for a short period of time, because:

  • Running simultaneous multiple test cases aren’t that necessary
  • Maintenance and installation is time consuming and costly
  • Lack of time to get the resources trained in the tools and start testing

In addition to first impressions, when we talk about the functionality, there’s no replacement for manual testing. It goes beyond fail/pass as manual accessibility testing also ensures less time taken between a customer issue and a fix. In fact, there will always be a place for manual testing in ensuring accessibility of an application or a web page, no matter how much automated testing evolves.

Achieving quality output well within your budget and timeline can be difficult for you. We can help you find the best approach based on your testing situation to reach your goal.

Posted in QA


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