Website accessibility is one of the most critical aspects of today’s online businesses. Besides the growing need for websites to deliver their content to all groups of visitors, there are now legislations in place that make full accessibility mandatory for business websites.
It is vital to adhere to website accessibility guidelines when developing and designing your website. But in case you already have a website and you’d like to know which areas you should improve on in terms of accessibility, you need specific tools to perform an adequate kind of analysis.
In this article, we will look into website accessibility testing tools: what they are, what they aim to achieve and what they test for.
We will also discuss a particular web accessibility tool that provides several ways of making sure your website is compliant with accessibility laws and provides satisfactory UX for all users.
Table of Contents
What Is Website Accessibility Testing?
Website accessibility testing is the subcategory of usability testing that is used to determine whether a website is accessible and can be used by visitors with physical disabilities, restricted access, poor computer literacy, as well as those with outdated systems.
The purpose of web accessibility is to make sure all users can understand and navigate a website. It provides guidelines and blueprints for improvement in design, navigation, site speed and other aspects of user experience.
The most common website accessibility issues include:
- Poor color contrast on pages that affects visually impaired users
- No alt tags (descriptions) on images for users whose devices can’t load images
- Too small font size
- Labels missing from newsletters and other sign-up forms
- Confusing and non-streamlined navigation
What Are Website Accessibility Testing Tools?
Accessibility testing tools are a type of software used by website developers and designers to ensure the website is usable by people with disabilities like color blindness or poor hearing.
They ensure that this group of users can easily access the website and consume its content without any obstacles set by their condition.
Accessibility testing tools are also there to ensure that users with disabilities can use assistive technology to enhance their website experience. Examples of this technology include:
- Screen reader software that reads out loud written text such as articles
- Speech recognition software that converts spoken word to text
- Screen magnification software that makes reading easy for vision-impaired users
- Special keyboard that makes typing possible for users with motor difficulties
This type of testing also verifies that a website is compliant with the website accessibility standards, like W3C Accessibility, WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and ADA standards.
Web accessibility tools enforce the four main principles of website’s content accessibility:
- Perceivability or presenting the website information and interface in a way that a user cannot miss any info.
- Operability or functioning of controls, buttons, navigation and other interactive elements.
- Understandable formats or the clarity, predictability and consistency of technology that a website uses.
- Robustness or the website’s capability to perform on assistive devices used by people with disabilities.
What are WCAG Test Goals?
Website accessibility testing, as noted by Web Accessibility Initiative, has four primary objectives:
- To address the needs of people with various disabilities
- To balance the needs of people with different disabilities
- To match their needs to optimal techniques and
- To use clear language to express said needs and techniques
All of these four objectives work towards one common goal: to optimize a website that has features and functionalities in place to enhance usability for everyone and make it as equal for everyone as possible.
What Do Accessible Tools Test For?
Website accessibility testing tools assess two website UX aspects: usability and universality.
Usability refers to the functionality and simplicity of accessible web design elements. In a nutshell, it translates to making your website as easy to use in order to capture the interest of visitors, including those with disabilities.
Universality, on the other hand, indicates the aspects and elements of a website that everyone can use: both users without and with physical and other impairments.
To properly evaluate a website’s accessibility, this type of testing should consider six main medical conditions:
- Mobility: Users with mobility issues should be able to seamlessly access and interact with a website. One way to test if they can do it is to unplug your mouse and check whether you can still interact with controls on a website, see which controls are active, if command orders are easy to understand, etc.
- Cognition: For users with cognitive challenges, using various elements on a website can be a problem. Try to establish if the menus and forms on your website are too complex and contextually relevant. Does each form clearly indicate what is required of users? Is the website’s messaging easy to understand?
- Hearing: Users that are hearing impaired should have options at hand to consume video or audio material on your website. Accessibility testing should establish if there are closed captions for videos or transcripts for podcasts and other media.
- Vision: Testing should also establish if your website needs audio and speech-to-text capabilities for users that are visually impaired.
- Independence: Website accessibility testing needs to ensure that users with independent living challenges can accomplish complex website tasks by reducing them to straightforward steps. For example, image elements and easy-to-scale text can provide relief for such users.
How To Use Accessibility Testing Tools To Create a Compliant Website Environment for Everyone?
Testing accessibility tools can provide tests on the websites' messaging clarity, navigation ease, visuals use, replacements for text and videos etc.
AccessiBe, the AI-based one-stop-shop tool that helps web designers and developers make their websites WCAG and ADA compliant, also has these built-in accessibility testing capabilities.
This automated website accessibility tool powers more than 100,000 websites all over the world. Its popularity and success boils down to a simple, streamlined process of making websites accessible with its machine learning foundation.
AccessiBe enables businesses of all profiles and sizes to:
- Set up and run the accessibility test tool quickly and efficiently
- Gain accessibility statements and certification of performance
- Comply with new and existing accessibility standards
AccessiBe’s specialized WCAG and ADA testing solution, aCe, provides website owners with an instantaneous answer to the question “is my website compliant with website accessibility legislation” — completely free of charge!
Using aCe is simple as this:
- Enter your domain on AccessiBe’s website to test your website
- Get a detailed accessibility audit with score and explanations
- Download the report to share with your team
By using aCe, businesses position themselves favorably relative to lawsuits and penalties that could potentially arise for not having a compliant website – especially since all business-related websites in the US are now considered places of public accommodations and must be accessible for people with disabilities.
Aside from this 508 compliance testing tool, AccessiBe also provides User Testing and Expert Audit as two separate but valuable methods of testing website’s accessibility rating.
User Testing encompasses a detailed accessibility test performed by people with disabilities for end-users with disabilities. Their insight is the most relevant and worthwhile one in making your website truly accessible for people with a range of disabilities. User Testing can be implemented for $200 per hour.
The following users evaluate the website’s UX:
- Blind, screen-reader testers
- Motor-impaired, keyboard testers
- Limited and low vision testers
- Testers with cognitive disabilities
Expert Audit refers to a professional evaluation of the website’s accessibility levels performed before, during and after the remediation project. AccessiBe’s expert team examines the website’s design, UI and source code from the accessibility standpoint to provide a report on keyboard only navigation, screen reader, assistive technology, UI design and content implementation. Expert Audit is available at $450 per website template.
Expert Audit process consists of:
- Initial assessment
- Thorough analysis
- Remediation recommendation
- Project delivery
To become web accessibility compliant using AccessiBe, a user needs to complete these three simple steps:
- Paste the JS code onto the website to install the accessibility widget
- Have the tool’s AI system scan and analyze the website
- Get a fully compliant and accessible website in up to 48 hours
- The tool’s AI scans for new content to fix every 24 hours.
Accessibility Testing Tools Takeaways
Using accessibility tools is absolutely essential if you are looking to improve your current website’s accessibility ratings or you’re building a new, ADA and WCAG-compliant website from scratch.
- These tools are able to evaluate where you currently stand regarding usability from the perspective of website visitors with disabilities. They assess your website in these crucial areas:
With these tests, you can more successfully and efficiently enforce these four main pillars of website accessibility:
- Understandable formats
AccessiBe, an AI-powered set of web accessibility solutions, comes with several accessibility testing tools: aCe, a free tool that scans and evaluates any website for ADA and WCAG compliance; User Testing, which utilizes the insight and feedback of people with disabilities on the website’s usability; and Expert Audit, with AccessiBe’s in-house experts providing verdict and suggestions on your website’s accessibility rating.