According to the CDC, 27% of adults in the United States have some disability. This means that beyond generosity, diversity, and reputational issues, companies that move forward with software development processes without putting accessibility testing among their priorities leave one in four potential customers out.
A 2021 Pew Research study found that Americans with disabilities are less likely than those without to use digital devices and that even 15% have never been online (a figure that drops to 5% among those with no disability).
The reasons for incorporating accessibility testing, therefore, are manifold.
In recent times, thanks to the consolidation of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the series of guidelines prepared by the World Wide Web (W3) Consortium. The guidelines are to be met by all web pages. The objective is that all people can manage in the technological universe with the lowest possible levels of assistance.
This is a regulation with a global scope. Still, it may have a more relevant impact in countries such as the United States, where some companies that did not comply with these rules were denounced by those who could not use their online services and fined significant amounts.
The social perspective
But there is a human aspect: no one should be deprived of public or private space access.
We are seeing more and more companies considering accessibility testing from the beginning of projects or as part of their diversity and inclusion initiatives, when not so long ago, it used to be relegated to the last minute, when everything was finished and about to go live, just to comply.
According to the CCS Index 2022, which measures consumers’ willingness to pay for sustainable goods and services, 67% consider using sustainable materials an essential purchasing factor and 36% are willing to spend more on these types of organizations.
A testing tour
What do these accessibility tests consist of? The WCAG guidelines are categorized based on four main principles.
The first is the “perceivable“, that is, that information must be presented in a way that users can perceive it using one of their senses. In other words, a user must be able to comprehend the information presented: captions, subtitles, description, content views.
The “operable” principle helps us to ensure that the page is easy to navigate, that it does not generate confusion, that it is accessible by touch, keyboard, or special devices, that it does not have videos that play by themselves and cannot be paused, that the links have the appropriate names or that there are no animations that generate interaction difficulties, among other points.
The third principle is “understandable“: everything must be understandable.
The fourth, “robust“, refers to compatibility with all operating systems, browsers, and screen readers used by the visually impaired.
How the tests are performed
Accessibility testing differs from the other tests performed in the software quality process: it requires different time, detailed analysis, and the elaboration of compliance reports for each page.
At Making Sense, we not only avoid errors or problems related to the accessibility of the end product, but we also guarantee accuracy in developing the reports. To speed up this process, some companies often automate this type of test and run into many false positives or negatives, i.e., issues that were correct and were taken as wrong or vice versa.
At the end of the journey, the added value of having done so will be undeniable: a more inclusive software with the ability to reach more users and potential customers and provide a friendly experience for every one of them.