Usability & Web Accessibility – Testing Procedures

Posted by Yale University | Date Accessed: August 17, 2022

Accessibility testing can range from quick checks to full audits, depending on a site owner’s needs. The process will look different for a developer building a project than for a site owner maintaining a live site.

Using Checklists

Checklists are a necessary and helpful part of any accessibility testing process. The best checklists translate WCAG criteria into understandable language. Checklists may also be role-specific, focusing on editors, designers, or developers. Though checklists are not a perfect substitute for understanding WCAG guidelines, they are nevertheless invaluable. Yale recommends the following checklists:

Automated Scanning

Using automated tools is best viewed as a helpful step in an accessibility process. Automated tools detect less than half of accessibility issues on a page. They can also generate false positives or raise warnings that need interpretation. Hence, they are insufficient for confirming accessibility. Still, they are a valuable tool in a developer’s workflow. Automated scanners include:

Color Contrast Checkers

Keyboard Only Testing

Many users with disabilities will not be able to use a mouse. Hence, developers must ensure that all content on a page is operable with a keyboard. In most browsers, use the Tab key to ensure that all functionality receives visible focus and responds to common key presses (Enter, Space). Default focus styling may be inadequate for some designs, or may be removed by CSS resets. Custom widgets may not be keyboard operable without considerable scripting effort. Testing with a keyboard throughout development will catch these issues.

Assistive Technology Testing

Applications should be tested with assistive technology. Ideally, a user who uses the assistive technology would perform this testing. But, developers can learn the basic operations of screen readers well enough for their own testing during development. Major screen readers include VoiceOver (default on Mac), NVDA (free to download on Windows), and JAWS (available for purchase on Windows).

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