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Why Web Accessibility & Software Testing Matter

Posted by Rachel.Wilson on Friday 29 July 2016

Web accessibility means making sure that “people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the web”, and software testing plays an important role in doing so.

Although accessibility may not be your top priority, (like business-critical core functionality) it is essential that when you design and develop websites and mobile apps, you ensure they are adaptable to meet all your user’s needs, specifically those with disabilities. Let’s examine what is going on this segment, what requirements need to be considered for web accessibility and how you might go about testing your software for accessibility issues.

Because of the increasingly important role that the web plays in today’s society, it is vital that your websites and apps are as convenient and inclusive as possible. In the UK alone, there are over 10 million disabled people, of which 6.9 million are of working age – 19% of the purchasing population. Around 2 million disabled people are registered as blind or partially sighted, and another 2 million are classified as physically disabled and have difficulty using the regular input devices of a computer, such as a mouse and keyboard.

Web accessibility is about empowering people with disabilities - enabling people on the web to do what they want, when they want, unhindered. Having an accessible website is often the easiest way to do business with people with disabilities. For example, a large proportion of this segment of consumers may prefer to use eCommerce as a convenient and invaluable way to buy food and domestic goods, yet many retailers fail to ensure that their site is accessible for disabled users.

When designing and developing an application, it is advised (and in some cases required by law) to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 standards that have been devised by the Web Accessibility Initiative and include accessibility considerations right at the beginning of your development process.

This set of guidelines covers; content, web browsers, media players, assistive technology, user considerations, authoring tools and evaluation tools and it takes you through the four principles of accessibility, which lay the foundation needed for people with disabilities to use web content.

But once web accessibility has been well-thought-out and implemented, how do you go about making sure it all works as expected, on all of the devices that your customers use?

Ideally you need real-users in the real-world on real devices. Although in-house software testers can use techniques (utilising special software) to check that a site is “accessible”, Crowdsourced Software Testing providers, such as BugFinders go a step further.

BugFinders deploy accessibility trained testers, as well as people with disabilities within our software testing community to test applications and raise issues that they find with usability – this means of testing allows your organisation to check how well your applications measure up against the WCAG 2.0 guidelines and ensures you offer exceptional customer experience for all users. 

It is important that your website covers visual, cognitive, physical and hearing and abides by the WCAG 2.0 guidelines otherwise you and your organisation could be the next victim of the media and PR world. Imagine if you had a vulnerable user of your website whose life depended on your websites capability ultimately this could resolve in poor press and a drop in online revenue.

To learn more on Software Testing please get in touch with our Solutions Consultants.