The Importance of Accessibility Testing

Accessibility-NewsWhile many businesses are concerned with making sure their mobile, web and desktop applications don’t contain a mission-critical bug that’s a showstopper for launch, there’s oftentimes an important subset of users that gets glossed over in the process – those with disabilities or other impairments. Is the software accessible to all users before it hits the market?

For instance, for those that may be visually impaired, how are buttons in an app represented so screen readers can correctly read the information contained in the button?

It’s not just unfairly ignoring an entire slice of the population by not ensuring these quality standards –  it’s essentially ignoring the law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), for example, carries over to digital entities including mobile applications. The accessibility of mobile apps have to follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2 standards including areas such as captioning and audio description.

Recently, there’s been a thought-provoking conversation in the uTest Forums that examines testers’ opinions on this important-but-oft-overlooked testing form. The uTester who started the conversation shared how her interest in accessibility testing was garnered from a personal experience when she was a student:

I had a friend with brittle bone disease and was blind. When she was trying to use Windows Media Player to play her music, she had to ask me to start the playlist as she had no way to navigate there herself….It shocked me to see how such a simple application was unusable to her, and the only “tool” she could use to start it was me!

One uTester echoed how affected she was by accessibility once actually immersed in a cycle:

I was also able to lead a testing effort for a mobile app that included accessibility, and months later, when I saw the users happy and loving the app, it was totally worth the effort. It was an eye-opener.

I’ll take a moment here and interject opinion. This was probably my favorite part of the discussion that responded to the naysayers of accessibility testing (because it hit the nail on the head):

I can see how some testers would consider it too much trouble and not want to do it, but then again, if you were to think that about your job, are you really a tester? A true tester would see this as an opportunity.

Accessibility testing is a very important variant of Usability testing and is something we take quite seriously here at uTest. It’s ultimately one of the most important and rewarding forms of testing that often gets lost in the shuffle when organizations roll out their applications for primetime.

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