Accessibility testing implies evaluating a services, product or website to guarantee that it is usable by people with disabilities. This can include several testing procedures for compliance with accessibility standards and guidelines, such as WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), in addition to conducting user testing with disabled individuals to guarantee that the product is usable in practice. The goal of accessibility testing is to adequately identify and address any barriers that might prevent disabled individuals from accessing or using a service or product.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are internationally documented guidelines for making web content more available and accessible to people with disabilities. They were created by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), which belongs to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and are extensively used by web developers and all sort of organizations to develop accessible web content.
WCAG 2.2 is the up-to-date version of the guidelines and it is ordered into four main principles:
- Perceivable: data and user interface components must be presentable to users in forms they can perceive.
- Operable: User interface navigation and components must be operable.
- Understandable: Data and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
- Robust: Content must be interpreted reliably by an extensive variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
WCAG 2.2 also includes a several success criteria, which are specific guidelines that web content must meet for it to be considered accessible. The success criteria are organized into 3 levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA. Level A is the minimum level, while levels AA and AAA represent more advanced accessibility levels.
It’s important to note that WCAG are not specific laws. They are a set of guidelines. However, several countries and regions have their own laws that require public websites to be easily accessible to people with disabilities, and they often use WCAG as a standard or reference.
Accessibility testing is relevant for several reasons:
- Compliance: Many countries and organizations have their own regulations and laws instructing that services and products are accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility testing helps confirm compliance with these regulations and laws.
- Inclusion: By making services and products usable by disabled people, accessibility testing helps promote inclusion and equal access to opportunities and information.
- Business: Making services and products accessible to a more extensive range of users can also generate a positive impact on a business. It permits to reach a broader audience and can improve the overall user experience.
- Social responsibility: Accessibility testing is a method to guarantee that everyone, including disabled people, can access products and services that are significant to their daily lives.
- Human rights: Disabled people have the right to access data and technology in the same form as others, accessibility testing guarantees that this right is respected.
Accessibility testing (view) should be done by a varied group of individuals, including disabled people, to ensure that the website or product being tested is usable for everyone. This may include, but is not limited to, individuals with motor, visual, auditory and cognitive impairments. It is also significant to involve individuals with a varied range of abilities and disabilities to guarantee that the product or website is accessible to the broadest possible range of users. Additionally, it can be helpful to have a mix of individuals with both non-technical and technical backgrounds to test the product or website.
The responsibility for accessibility testing classically falls on the development crew or the organization as a whole. The development team is responsible for guaranteeing that the product or website being created is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. This includes conducting accessibility testing, fixing any matters that are identified, and frequently monitoring and updating the accessibility of the product or website.
In some cases, the development crew might work closely with an accessibility specialist or a dedicated accessibility crew to guarantee that the product or website meets accessibility guidelines and standards.
Moreover, some organizations have a devoted accessibility officer or compliance officer, who is responsible for guaranteeing that the organization’s digital products and services are accessible and compliant with accessibility regulations and laws.
Ultimately, the specific roles and responsibilities will vary depending on the organization and the website or product being developed.