Accessibility Testing: All you need to know

Serena Gray
6 min readNov 9, 2021


We live in a Digital Era, where smartphones and web apps dominate our daily activities. It is amazing how much time we now spend on our smartphones and laptops every day.

It is important to realize that not everyone will be able to use the web or mobile applications today in the same manner. Some applications are not accessible for people with disabilities.

It is important to consider all end-users when building an application. The WorldBank has released statistics.

“One-billion people, or 15% of the global population, experience some form of disability.”

As an organization, we must make accessibility testing a top priority before we release any apps to our users.

We will be discussing some common disabilities and how to conduct accessibility testing.

Types and causes of disabilities

There are many types of disabilities that people may experience at one time or another in their lives. These are some of the most common disabilities:

  1. Physical Disability
  2. Cognitive Disability
  3. Eyesight/Vision Disability
  4. Hearing impairment
  5. Temporary Disability

A type of disability in which people have difficulty speaking and rely on motorized equipment to communicate with applications.

Cognitive Disabilities are people with poor memory or difficulty understanding the other person’s thoughts.

Vision impairment is the most severe disability. According to the World Health Organisation, there are approximately 2.2 million people with visual impairments or blindness worldwide.

Hearing impairment refers to the inability or inability to hear. This could be either partial or total deafness.

Temporary Disabilities may occur from environmental conditions, sickness, or accidents. It is usually temporary.

Accessibility testing: How do you perform it?

We now have a basic understanding of the most common disabilities. It’s time to learn how accessibility testing can be used. Before we can do that, let’s learn a few industry standards.

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), part of the World Wide Web Consortium, (W3C), has published a set of guidelines called ‘The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines are mandatory for organizations to follow to make an application accessible to people with disabilities. These guidelines should be followed by all phases of SDLC as part of their Functional Testing process.

There are three levels of success criteria for each guideline:

  • A (lowest)
  • AA (mid-range).
  • AAA (highest)

These levels can vary between organisations and situations. Conformance at higher levels is indicative of conformance at lower levels. Conforming to AA means that a Web site meets both the A conformance levels and the AA conformance levels. Level A is a minimum accessibility level and cannot be used in all situations. UC recommends that all Web-based information be conformant to AA.

Many companies conduct accessibility testing in real-time by hiring testers who are qualified to verify that their product meets user expectations.

Let’s now look at how accessibility testing can be performed for the different types of disabilities that we have discussed earlier.

Physical Disability

  1. Test the consistency of voice recognition software to determine if it is available
  2. Check if the keyboard is easy to use for people with speech impairments
  3. Motorly disabled people should be able to seek human assistance in times of emergency
  4. For people with limited muscular control, test the application using a specially designed mouse
  5. As the user spends more time entering values into the form, make sure that the timeouts are set appropriately.

Cognitive Disability

  1. Make sure the controls are easy to use.
  2. Easy to understand menus that allow the user to select the items they require
  3. Maximize the use of graphs and images instead of text, which makes understanding context difficult
  4. You can test whether the user is able to complete a task without distractions such as alerts, advertisements, and so forth.
  5. Check if there are any options to get human assistance

Vision Disabilities

  1. Check if the application offers keyboard shortcuts to all operations performed by a mouse
  2. Convert text to audio
  3. For those with less vision abilities, magnifiers are available
  4. Fonts used must comply with the W3C Accessibility Checker rules
  5. Filters for color blindness

Hearing Disability

  1. You can test whether the app vibrates even when the feature is disabled (mobile apps).
  2. Sign language manuals are provided to aid in understanding the application.
  3. Mobile phones flash alerts, such as led lights flashing when incoming calls are made
  4. Convert audio to text in place

Temporary Disability

This type of disability can occur at any time in one’s lifetime. This could include a foreigner using an ATM in a country where the language is difficult to understand. We need to determine if the ATM system allows for a common language such as English to control.

A person might need to have surgery on one eye or a broken arm. We need to make sure that the applications we create can be used in these situations without causing stress.

Even though we live in a digital age, not all disabilities can be identified and addressed. Unfortunately, not all disabilities are taken into consideration when an application is created and released.

Accessibility Testing

Using all the W3C guidelines, you can use one or more tools to validate the success criteria for the application. You can either perform accessibility testing manually or automatically. To ensure accessibility compliance, there are many commercial and open-source tools available.

Screen Magnification

People with reduced vision might not be able to read the text in the standard font size. These people will need to zoom in to see the content.

MagnifierApp for Windows and Zoom option for macOS are both excellent tools.

Color Contrast Analyser

Color Contrast Analyser, (CCA), helps maintain sufficient contrast between background and foreground colors by providing the appropriate test results.

Applitools Contrast Advisor

Applitools Contrast Advisor will use AI-powered computer vision (Visual AI), to identify potential contrast violations. A contrast accessibility failure is identified for an element whose measured contrast ratio is lower than the minimum WCAG defines. It can be used on web, mobile, and native mobile apps.

To be advised about the compliance of their website or app with WCAG 2.0, 2.1 and AA, users can toggle between WCAG 2.0 and 2.1.

You can enable this product within your existing automation framework by writing one line of code. Or, you can easily configure it to scan your site and application automatically without writing any code.

Applitools Contrast advisor will be released in limited quantities starting in May.

Screen Readers

Screen readers are tools that allow you to narrate the contents of a webpage. Screen readers can be used to narrate the contents of a page for users, including text, images, radio buttons and checkboxes.

These are some of the most popular screen readers for mobile devices and browsers:

  • Chrome and Internet Explorer
  • Firefox NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access)
  • Safari: Voice Over
  • iPhone: Voice Over
  • Android: Talkback

Speech Recognition Software

Speech recognition tools allow you to communicate with the application using speech recognition software by simply dictating text to it or giving commands. It can be used for dictating text, controlling buttons, links, opening an application, and many other functions. Common Speech Recognition tools include Apple Dictation, Windows Speech Recognition and Dragon.

Axe browser Plugin

Axe is a browser plug-in for Chrome and Firefox web browsers. It scans the page for Section 508 (Standards delineated for Federal Agencies) accessibility. Deque Systems developed the axe open-source JavaScript extension.

WorldSpace Attest From Deque

Developers can use the Worldspace Attest toolkit while they code. It allows developers to use the shift-left approach in order to quickly identify accessibility issues (as per Section 508, WCAG, etc.) more efficiently and earlier. It integrates with the existing test automation framework, which will allow it to check for compliance issues as the functional tests are running. It supports all major browsers, including IE, Chrome and Safari. It also supports both iOS and Android devices.

Everyone is right!

According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, access to information and communication, including mobile and web applications, is a fundamental human right. Applications must adhere to Accessibility Standards.

Accessibility testing services can help us make our applications more accessible to people with disabilities and give them equal access to the digital world.



Serena Gray

I work as a Senior Testing Specialist at TestingXperts. I am a testing professional accustomed to working in a complex, project-based environment.