Accessibility Testing Best Practices to Follow

Accessibility Testing Best Practices to Follow

Last Edited October 11, 2018 by Garenne Bigby in Accessibility Testing

There are many best practices to follow when it comes to accessibility testing. Making your website accessible to customers—despite any disability they may have—is not only the law, but it is also vital to make sure everyone can access your website. This can benefit your business as it ensures that people will visit your website and potentially be able to buy your product or service despite their limitations.

There are many disabilities that can affect how a person uses a website. For example—if they have incapacities that hinder their vision—it might be difficult for them to see the content on your page unless you are following accessibility best. They may also have difficulty with hearing, which means you have to think about using captions for any videos or audio that you have posted.

On the other hand, there may be those with disabilities that benefit from having audio files as they might be unable to read the text. You will likely need to make accommodations on your webpage due to accommodate accessibility standards. By following these best practices, you put your business in line with competitors who are already making it easy for visitors, despite their limitations, to understand the content on their webpage.

Here is the information you need as well as the best practices to follow to ensure your website is compliant with the accessibility laws that govern the internet.


Accessibility and Universal Design

You might be wondering what universal design has to do with accessibility. In a nutshell, it is the idea that everyone, no matter their limitations or disabilities can use and communicate through the web without any restrictions. It involves creating standards and pathways that ensure all technology is able to be used by everyone. Universal design also takes into consideration the diverse needs of all people, no matter their life circumstances. There are a few primary goals that are important when it comes to universal design:

  • Make a cost-effective design that will be able to be altered for the ever-changing technology of the modern times
  • Offer a variety of different technologies to accommodate different disabilities
  • Have a flexible website that can adhere to different needs and wants of users

These goals can ensure that barriers between able-bodied users and disabled users are eliminated. It can also give access to all people, which is not only the law but also beneficial for the business in question. When people are restricted from accessing certain websites, the business may suffer. Not only does it take away from having customers, but it can also make users frustrated and angry that they are unable to access the content on web pages flexibly.

Keep reading below for some practices you can follow to ensure accessibility testing goes smoothly and that you are adhering to all the guidelines required.


Social Standards to Keep in Mind Prior to Designing a Website

These are some significant pieces of information to keep in mind prior to designing a website or when looking to redesign a website. They may seem obvious, but it is important to remind yourself of them throughout the process. The other standards—such as the technical ones—may not be enough in and of themselves to get the job done properly and ensure fair access to all. By making some of these standards the core of your company values, you can do a better job to ensure all people are being treated fairly when it comes to accessibility.

Technology has Potential

Technology has the potential to ensure equality for everyone. It can also certainly backfire if it becomes inaccessible for those with disabilities. While it is a wonderful way to convey messages and get things done in our daily lives, it can also hinder the productivity of others if accessibility standards are not kept in mind.

Everyone is Different

Again, this seems like it should be common knowledge. It is a fundamental standard to keep in mind. People come into the world with many different personality traits, beliefs, and needs. These should all be celebrated instead of seen as a negative. Technology should be designed with this idea in mind to ensure the acceptance of all no matter what their culture or beliefs. Some people also have different perspectives and preferences when it comes to using technology. The more this standard is accepted when designing websites, the better off those diverse and unique individuals all over the world will be.

User-Focused Policies Should Be Updated Periodically

One standard that is very important and may be overlooked is that user-focused policies should be kept in research libraries and should be updated as often as need be. In this world with ever-changing technology, that only means the standards will change as technology is created or modified. While this may or may not happen everywhere, it is important to consider moving forward because of the benefit it will have on accessibility for all.

Innovative Design

The final social standard that should be taken into consideration is that design that is accessible to everyone is just as innovative and important. The semantic markup of a website is very important to ensuring everyone has access to all information on the web. In order to keep technology innovative, it is important to make sure it is accessible to everyone no matter their disability.


Technical Standards for Website Content

The below standards have to do with how you should design your website with accessibility in mind.

Forms

When it comes to filling out forms, all users should be able to do so without a hassle. Some standards to follow to ensure forms are easy to fill out for everyone who visits your website are:

  • Make sure each element of the form (the boxes and information to be filled out) are labeled
  • The labels are correct
  • The form can be recovered if there are errors when filling it out, so this way the user doesn’t have to input information again
  • The form can be submitted easily by the user

Video Transcripts

Since not everyone is able to watch or listen to videos, it is important to have transcripts for all audio and video. This will make it easy for those who have disabilities to access the same information as those who do not.

Text

When it comes to the text on your website, make sure to provide differentiated text for pictures and images. Many people who are blind may not be able to view this content. For them, an alternative would be to have the text read to them. In order for that to happen, all content must involve text in some way.

Data Tables

If you are using data tables on your website, be sure to include headings. This will help to organize the content. This will also help any automatic readers be able to relay the information included on a table.

Be Careful with Color

Color can make a webpage exciting and enticing, but it may not make it user or accessibility friendly. Be aware that it is not a good idea to convey meaning with different colors. It could affect how a person understands the information on your webpage. This also is not a friendly way to give information for those that have vision impairments.

Links Within a Page

All links that are included on websites should be carefully places and should make sense. In addition, it should also not be listed under text that says, “click here” or “more”. These might not make sense when text readers are reading the content to a person. In essence, any links should be listed with the correct content for it to make sense to a user. This will allow for accessibility.

Allow Users to Have the Control to Skip Certain Things

If there is something that repeats on any page, it is standard practice to give them the option to skip the content to the main page. Not only is this user-friendly for the average user, but it can also be a great way to ensure the user is not stuck and frustrated with content they do not want to or need to see. The other option is to allow users to click on a “Skip Navigation” link so that they can get to the important information they need.

Content

The content of the page is the most important information. It should be easy to read and should make sense. In addition, it should also be written in a way that anyone can understand. This means the vocabulary should be appropriate for all types of users. It should not be geared toward only individuals with higher degrees. This would not be useful to people who are unable to understand the content. Not only is it not a good idea, but it can also make some users frustrated—which could affect how others use your website.

Ensure Documents are Structured

Anytime you use headings, lists or any structural element on your webpage, it is crucial to make sure everything is structured correctly. This is especially important if these elements are used to provide meaning to the page. It can also be helpful and is advisable to allow for keyboard navigation on the website. This can help all the information to be accessible by just about anyone, especially if a disability keeps them from being able to use a mouse or other navigational tools. Having everything structured will make this navigation easier throughout the page.

Non-HTML Content Should Be Easily Accessible

There may be times on your page that you choose to upload documents in Word, PDF, or other file formats. Ensure that these documents are able to be opened by users. If this is not possible, you can display it as HTML instead of using the uploading feature. It can also be helpful to provide different file formats to make the content accessible to everyone. To make a PDF accessible, you should also consider using tags, which won’t change the visual of the file but will make it easier for someone needing to use a screen reader.

Javascript

At times, Javascript can require the use of a mouse, so it is imperative that you check this element out. Javascript should be accessible, but should not be relied upon by your page. This can cause a lot of problems and create issues with accessibility if it is not set up properly.

Build Your Design to These Standards

Pages that are compliant with accessibility standards are going to be much easier for users to have accessibility no matter what their situation is. It is not only the law but can also ensure that your webpage performs well. Those that follow these standards are likely to have a higher Search Engine Optimization ranking. This, of course, can make your website more successful in that more people will find it. If your website is not accessible, that can be a turn off for users who will go elsewhere to find what they are looking for.


Institutions That Adhere to Accessibility

There are many standards that institutions can follow to ensure accessibility. It is not just about the technical and social standards, but it is also about the company’s philosophy about accessibility. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering the standards of an accessible institution:

Leadership

When leaders are aware there are issues with accessibility, they are better able to facilitate a solution to the problem. If there is something not working properly or not following the standards, it is important that leaders are made aware of what is going on. By setting up a committee that is committed to ensuring these standards are followed, this can be another great way to be sure your institution is accessibility friendly.

Monitoring

The aforementioned committee should hold everyone accountable for following the standards. If there are materials or features of a website or institution that are not accessible, this should be the committees’ job to catch it before complaints are brought up by those with disabilities. There needs to be some kind of monitoring before it gets to that point.

Technical Standards

It is crucial that anyone within the institution understands the standards and that they are laid out for all. The requirements should be listed and there should be clear and specific guidelines for web developers of an institution. All interactions, communications, and information should have high expectations for accessibility.

Considerations From Those with Disabilities

What better way to figure out what those with disabilities need than to take their feedback and ideas into consideration. Unless you are someone who is inhibited with a disability, you may not understand what it is your website needs to have. Find out what the needs are for the users who will be attempting to access your information. This can help to ensure you are following the standards and will benefit all in the long run.

Education and Ever-Changing Technology

Every day, technology and accessibility are changing for the better. Innovation can happen overnight. It is important and advisable that those working on developing websites are staying up to date with research. In institutions, there should be funding set aside to do research and professional development on the accessibility standards. Each employee should be given the opportunity to participate in meaningful and informative research and development on the standards on a regular basis.

Be on The Same Page

Every person you hire should be empowered to adhere to the guidelines and regulations. If the guidelines are produced and written, and there are individuals responsible for monitoring accessibility, then the standards should be able to be enforced throughout the whole institution. It is important that everyone remains on the same page when it comes to accessibility.

Inclusion

Including all people, no matter their differences or disabilities can have a great and lasting effect. Not only is it the law to include everyone, but doing so can lead to a greater understanding of how those people should be treated, especially when it comes to technology. This is important for the online world, but also the non-technological world.

Final Words

By attempting to understand the accessibility regulations and standards, you are already doing your job in ensuring these standards are followed. No one should be excluded because of their disability. All people have a right to easily access the information online and all over the world. By ensuring these standards are followed in your institution, you are also setting a good example for the rest of the world.

As you can see, there is more to these accessibility standards than how you develop a webpage. It is also important to ensure you are setting the example and expectations for the people you work with, as well as following intellectual and social standards.

Garenne Bigby
Author: Garenne BigbyWebsite: http://garennebigby.com
Founder @dynomapper
Garenne Bigby is freelance Chicago developer and founder of DYNO Mapper with over 10 years experience in both agency and freelance roles in design, development, user experience, SEO, and information architecture.

Back

Related Articles

Create Visual Sitemaps

Create, edit, customize, and share visual sitemaps integrated with Google Analytics for easy discovery, planning, and collaboration.

Popular Tags

Search Engine Optimization SEO Create Sitemaps Accessibility Testing Sitemaps UX User Experience Sitemap Generator Content Audit Website Content Audit
Create Interactive Visual Sitemaps

Discovery has never been easier.

Sign up today!