Accessibility testing. You might have heard this term mentioned when you started designing and creating your website. But are you totally sure what it means and, more importantly, how to make sure your website passes the test?
Accessibility testing is performed on a site to ensure that it can be used by people with disabilities such as hearing issues, color blindness or visual impairments, to name a few and generally is accessible for all users. There are lots of requirements and tests that businesses now have to run to ensure that their website is easy to use and accessible for all.
In recent years, businesses have been sued by individuals for not being easy to use – now you’re reading!
Our first piece of advice would be to have a copy of the WCAG 2.0 checklist by your side when you start accessibility testing. It makes it far easier to check what you have and haven’t got covered, and to track what changes you might need to go back and make. The WCAG 2.0 checklist can also be used to help you and your team set goals to improve your accessibility targets for the future and track how far you’ve come.
It’s serious stuff and there are many hundreds of requirements – with many of them being followed simply by using a good designer, or web developer. However, don’t rely on others as accessibility requires everyone in the digital ecosystem to contribute. Some of the starting points are highlighted below – for more in-depth checks and analysis, we do a lot of this for clients and would be happy to consult.
1. Colour contrast
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2. Alt text for images – making them readable
This is an important one. If a visitor of your site is visually impaired they will most likely use a screen reader, which scans the page and reads the content allowed. If it hits an image or an infographic the screen reader is unable to process it and will simply ignore the content. This means that some of your audience aren’t able to access all the content available on your site and could stop them from gaining vital information.
Instead of them missing out you can add an alt text to your image, which is very simple to do. It’s suggested that each description is about 1 or 2 lines long and it just explains what’s happening in the picture. And to make it even easier often on Microsoft word it will offer a suggested alt text, which you can either keep or edit.
Alt text: A group of four students are sitting at their desks, three writing and one working on a laptop. Their teacher is leaning over, hand resting on the desk, and smiling at the student in the foreground.
3. Audio descriptions/subtitles on videos
4. Keyboard accessible
Next we have keyboard accessibility. Even though this is the hardest to achieve, it is still a very important one to bear in mind when designing and testing your website’s accessibility.
Very simply it means that every action that a visitor can take on your website, should be achievable via their keyboard. For example, using the tab key to click through forms or the up and down buttons to scroll on the page. Nothing that can only be achieved with a mouse should be used on your site.
This becomes particularly difficult when sites have pop up ads, as most of these can only be closed with a mouse. But it is up to you to create solutions to combat this to ensure your site is totally accessible. A way around this would be to have the ad pop up in the corner of the page where it does not obscure the content and allows the user to continue to scroll through the page.