Chris Ashton

dai11y 30/04/2021

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An opinionated guide to accessibility testing

  • Iain Bean shares his approach to accessibility testing a website:
    1. First impressions (on page load) – are there auto-playing videos, etc? There may be a number of obvious a11y issues to fix right off the bat.
    2. Tab around the page, checking if every interactable element can be focused, and has a focus state. Iain points out that Firefox and Safari don’t tab very well by default on OSX, so need to be configured. Iain shares a useful bookmarklet which, when pressed, hides your cursor, helping you to test by keyboard navigation alone. There’s also an unexpected shout-out to my article, I Used The Web For a Day With Just a Keyboard… thanks Iain!
    3. The next step is automated testing: Iain clicks the tota11y bookmarklet, which brings up an overlay and highlights problems in the page such as low contrast, missing alt text, inputs without labels etc. He then runs Lighthouse, and a couple of the other tools mentioned on Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools.
    4. Finally, Iain tests his site with a variety of screen readers.
  • This approach sounds similar to the Three Phase Attack approach to testing I wrote about in 2016: starting with the lowest effort testing and working your way to the more laborious steps, with gradually diminishing returns. There are only so many browsers, operating systems and assistive technologies you’ll have time to test in, but you’ll usually find most issues by testing your site with a small handful of distinct combinations.

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