Websites and digital apps have now become an inextricable element of education, entertainment, finance, healthcare, insurance, and many other fields as the importance of digital media grows. Thus, it is critical to make them available to persons of various capacities.
To ensure that your website and web applications are easily accessible and are user-friendly, you should conduct web accessibility testing.
What is web accessibility testing?
Web accessibility testing is a procedure for ensuring that browser or mobile applications are usable by people with disabilities like blindness, cognitive impairments, hearing loss, or any physical disability. Web accessibility testing guarantees that web information is accessible to everyone without any restrictions.
W3C has nicely summarized web accessibility in their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. Your website must fit the following four fundamental aspects to make up for WCAG 2.0:
During web accessibility testing, you must ensure that your website is perceivable. It must always provide the users with the relevant information and UI components in a clear and understandable way. This would indicate that your users are able to fully grasp the information on the website through all their senses i.e., sight, touch, and hear.
The second principle of WCAG 2.0 is to ensure that your website is operable. This stresses the efficiency of users in utilizing different control keys, navigation, and other engaging features. On the other hand, for some users, the website would be operable if they are able to browse through the web page with the help of a keyboard or utilize the voice commands to obtain the web content.
During website accessibility testing, see if your website content and user interface’s operation is understandable and comprehensive. Ensuring this will allow the users to get commands over the content and can easily comprehend how to use the interface.
All web visitors must be able to consume your website’s content consistently. By all, we mean even those who use assistive software or devices to get access to the information on the web page, such as screen readers.
How to do Website Accessibility Testing?
Consider the following tips to assist you with website accessibility testing:
- Test navigating through the keyboard:
To test your website accessibility, put your mouse down and then go around your online pages using the tap keys. You must be able to operate all on-page features (such as menus, buttons, form fields, controls) easily using the function keys on the keyboard. For instance take a look at Youtube. You can browse through the website with keyboard at very ease. Besides, you can also get access to various functions of the video and the page by just using the “tab” key.
However, if you can’t use some of the functions on your website, your website will likely have accessibility issues.
- Test with users:
The simplest way to test your website’s accessibility is to engage and observe individuals as they engage with your website.
- Make sure your HTML is valid:
Assistive technology may have difficulty reading the content of the page if the HTML used is inappropriate. Hence, verify your code with an HTML validator to avoid any accessibility issues.
- Use a web accessibility tool:
There is a variety of web-based software available that can help you evaluate whether your website content fits the accessibility guidelines or not. Some accessibility tools are WAVE, sort site, TAW and much more. Each evaluation tool has its own specifications.
Ways to increase your Website Accessibility:
Designers and website developers should evaluate the website taking into consideration the web accessibility guidelines provided by W3C. However, if your web accessibility testing isn’t fruitful, consider ways to achieve accessibility:
1. Make your website Keyboard-Friendly:
Many assistive technologies and software only depend on keyboard navigation. Due to this fact, your website must work efficiently without using a mouse. Navigating through a keyboard particularly means, with the use of the function key “tab”. Your user should be able to access all the significant features such as pages, content, links, and so on, via keyboard only.
2. Build your website on a Simple Framework:
A user who browses through the mouse uses their vision to locate the website before going for website navigation. However, a user who navigates through the keyboard would probably have some vision problems. Therefore, browsing throughout the content using the “tab” may get frustrating if the website’s navigation is complicated and lengthy. This will restrict your website usage.
Hence, to ensure that your website satisfies everyone. It would be best if you keep your website’s navigation simple. It should only entail the necessary categories. Doing this will make searching for the relevant stuff easier.
3. Choose Colors wisely:
Remember that even visually disabled users might come across your website. Thus, to serve all the users despite their disability, you need to implement the colors wisely.
- You must ensure that the color contrasts on your site enable everyone to distinguish between various elements on the web page.
- Implement strong contrasts as it helps people with vision problems see what’s on the screen more clearly.
- The text must stand out when placed against the background. To ensure this, you must set a dark color parallel to a light color. Select the colors which don’t blend into each other or do not even give such an illusion. Since that would result in confusing the users as the text would not be readable. For instance, if you are using a blue color scheme for your website, then avoid using similar hues and saturations.
4. Utilize ARIA Landmarks for Accessible content:
To make your website keyboard friendly, you must ensure that all webpage content is accessible. However, it very rare that a web page entails dynamic content but if it does then it’s a matter of concern.
In a nutshell, content is said to be dynamic if it can be altered without refreshing the page. This can be problematic if the website does not notify assistive tools regarding the changes that occurred. For instance, many assistive technologies may only “read” the website as it first appears to be. Thus, the website must let them know whenever something changes or misses out on new content.
Utilizing ARIA landmarks is a way to overcome this problem. ARIA landmarks are the tags you add to the content to give a sense of what is going on the page. For instance, if you tag dynamic content as a “live region”, it will enable the assistive devices to read and understand the content as it alters.
In addition, utilizing ARIA can also aid you in making straightforward navigation as it allows the users to skip directly to the relevant content. Doing this will make the use of the keyboard easier. The users can easily pass through the other heavy-link sections without tabbing through each menu item in order to get access to the main content.
5. Use Tables only for Tabular Data:
Tables can make enormous parsing amounts of data considerably easier for all users, even those who require assistive technology. However, to get the best result, keep your tables simple.
Furthermore, we only use tables for tabular data. For example, never use tables for lists, layouts, or any other purpose. Screen readers and other similar technologies may get confused if you do so.
To make tables more straightforward, avoid writing the table’s title in bold letters. Instead, it would help if you consider utilizing the caption element to insert the captions into your tables; that would make it much easier. Also insert “scope” elements into your table to be more sufficient about it.
Remember to recheck if everything lies in place or not. Identify new columns and rows thoroughly throughout the table to avoid any discrepancy. However, if any element goes missing in the table. In that case, screen readers might not be able to interpret the data. It would spit out a succession of table cells without providing any context to the user, resulting in a poor user experience. It would be good if you take a UX test to know where you lack beforehand.
6. Incorporate a Header Structure into your content:
We usually structure our web page content by creating headings and changing their font sizes to make them more visible. However, incorporating a header structure can help you with that. In addition, you must add it to your website in order to align the viewers to the content they are interacting with.
Remember that visitors with visual disabilities often use screen readers to access information effectively. The screen reader translates the images and the text published on the page into tactile characters to make the information accessible. In this case, a designated header structure would help the screen reader to work effectively.
Thus, to avoid discrepancies on the web pages, set up a framework in which the content follows the clear hierarchy of headers. For example, you must use H1 for the page title. You should use H2 for the subheadings in the content, further headings must be followed by H3 and H4.
Incorporating a dedicated header format will:
- Help screen readers detect text quickly.
- Ensure consistency across the website, resulting in a better user experience for everyone.
- This makes navigating on-page much easier.
- Enable search engines to examine your page, resulting in improved SEO properly.
7. Always Utilize the Title Tag:
The HTML title element is not usually shown in the webpage body by browsers. However, it is helpful for tab titles and screen readers. Hence, make sure that every page of your website has a comprehensive yet brief title that explains what the webpage is about.
8. Craft Your Forms Accordingly:
Most websites benefit from the use of forms; hence they must be crafted carefully. The most important thing is to make sure that each field is properly labeled.
A sighted person could easily connect a label to the appropriate field or option. However, at the same time, it would be challenging for a screen reader user to do so. Therefore, it’s also a good idea to put the labels next to the relevant fields. Doing this will enable the screen reader user to access the information easily.
9. Add Alt Text to All Images on the website:
Ensure that all the images incorporated on your website are accompanied by Alt text. This Alt text serves as a replacement for the image. If you load a web page while browsing and the image there fails to load, you’ll see that the description text appears instead of the image itself.
Alt text aims to provide the users an idea of what the image is about without showing it to them. Therefore, Alt-text is extremely beneficial for individuals who utilize a screen reader to engage with a website since it allows them to understand what the visuals are saying.
In addition, the ALT text aids in improving SEO on your website. Doing this will provide search engines with more content. For better results, you can also consider adding keywords when you write descriptions of the images.
10. Adding Links to your content:
The aim behind adding links to your content is to give the reader access to further explanation. Doing this will allow the reader to get a full idea of the text available. However, you should highlight the links in the text as that’s how a reader would perceive it to be.
For better results, web designers and developers must consider the user’s expectations instead of prioritizing the style of the website. Doing this will likely generate your customer lifetime value which serves you best for a successful ecommerce store.
Let’s look at a bad linked and compare it to a well linked text to make it more clear. For instance, adding phrases like “click here” or “learn more” is a bad linked text. Since, you won’t help the user in any case, in fact you’ll waste his time. As there is a possibility that the piece of information that you are referring to him might be useless for him. However, on the other hand, the well linked text is the one which is phrased descriptively. Descriptive phrases will enable the users to indicate what they will be interacting with by clicking on the link. Besides, to serve the best purpose write the text with a different color and also underline the text to highlight it from the body text. By doing this, you’ll give users a glimpse of what the linked text regards. It will enable them to make a decision beforehand whether they want to interact with it or not.
11. Using Online Accessibility Tools:
Besides, with all these tactics you can utilize an online accessibility tool. Web accessibility tools aid in ensuring that people with disabilities do not encounter accessibility barriers when using the Internet.
They help you evaluate your website’s performance, making you aware of the discrepancies in your website. Not only this, many accessibility softwares even give you suggestions along with highlighting the areas having accessibility problems. As a result, you’ll know the places that need your attention and will let you alter accordingly. Doing this will enable your website to become wcag compliant much more easily.
Web accessibility testing is a process for determining how simple it is to browse, access, and comprehend mobile/ web applications and the content inside. Therefore, it is critical to recognize where your website stands so that you can work on the discrepancies beforehand.
Thus, evaluate your website today and find out where you lack it. Then, begin your journey towards accessibility as you resolve the problems considering the discussed recommendations in this article.
Leveraging your website’s accessibility will enable individuals with disabilities to gain access to it. As a result, a larger audience will interact and engage with your content, eventually accelerating your business growth.