Chris Ashton

dai11y 22/09/2022

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Mac VoiceOver Testing the Simple Way

Scott Vandehey writes about a familiar problem: getting comfortable testing with VoiceOver. It’s an experience that can make new users feel, as he puts it, “overwhelmed”.

The first issue is with enabling VoiceOver; Scott could never remember the CMD + F5 keyboard shortcut. On newer MacBooks, Scott recommends triple-clicking the TouchID button instead, which is the shortcut for opening the Accessibility Shortcuts panel, from which you can enable VoiceOver.

To avoid having to go via the panel, you can also go to System Preferences -> Accessibility -> Shortcut and uncheck everything except VoiceOver. This means triple-clicking the TouchID button will immediately enable VoiceOver.

As Scott only uses VoiceOver for testing, he uses the visual caption panel instead of listening to the speech, which he has muted by opening the VoiceOver Utility -> Speech -> Mute speech.

With VoiceOver configured, Scott’s approach to testing is to TAB through all the content on the page, which doubles up as a test that all appropriate elements are reachable and have focus styles. This approach commonly reveals issues with lack of context around interactive elements, e.g. a button that simply says “Menu”.

Next, Scott uses the Rotor to show a list of particular items in the page, such as headings and links. This is a useful way to check page structure and to ensure that all links have enough description.

Finally, using VO + →, Scott reads the entire content of the page. He acknowledges most screen reader users won’t do this, but it often brings up some little surprises.

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