Web Accessibility Testing

Testing techniques and steps to determine your website's accessibility tasks.

There is no easy single test to assess a web site’s accessibility. The following tests will help you focus on certain aspects of your site to determine what work needs to be done.

Automated Testing

An initial assessment of your website is to run an online evaluation. These tests provide a view to potential errors on the site that need to be looked at. Note: these tests are not conclusive but provide a very good first hand glance at the status of your website.

Ensure you test each of the different templates and/or page layouts you have on your site.

Online tests

Interpreting results - Things to look for:

  • Note any errors reported for page template areas, like headers, footers and overall site navigation. These are handy to address as a global change to all pages on your site. This way, the next time you run the test you can focus on page specific issues
  • Note any common errors like missing alt tags for images, heading levels, table labels, colour contrasts, etc. Look to check these elements to apply the same rules across the site

Once you’ve reduced your errors you can test your site manually.

Manual Testing

Carrying out manual tests on your site enables you to step into someone else’s shoes to determine if they can use and navigate your site. It also gives you a view to how your site performs when either visuals or mouse use is removed to ensure it operates as you intended.

Keyboard only test

  • Open a page in a browser (suggest trying in several different browsers). Without using the mouse use the “Tab” key to navigate the elements of your site (note focuses on links), if you need to go back use “Shift+Tab”.

Interpreting results - Things to look for:

  • Does the tab order follow a logical sequence on your website?
  • Does the site offer a “skip to navigation” or “skip to main content” option and do they land correctly?
  • Does the element, the tab lands on, show an onFocus highlight (could be a dotted outlined box)?

Screen reader test

Note: learning to navigate using a screen reader is different for each program and browser. It is suggested to allow the screen reader to run …. Unless you are lucky enough to have someone test it for you that is proficient in its use.

  • Download a trial version of a screen reader (e.g. JAWS provides a free version and works best in IE, alternately Chrome offers an internal extension: ChromeVox)
  • Open a web page and allow the screen reader to run

Interpreting results - What to look for:

  • Take notes on where the screen reader skips content or has trouble reading the information out
  • Note the behaviour of images and links when they are read out and in particular how a table is read

Mobile devices

Accessibility is also about ensuring that people on different devices can access your website. With many users using smart phones and tablets we need to understand how our site operates on these devices to ensure a good user experience.

  • Test your website for different mobile devices and their operating systems on different browsers and device types

Interpreting results - What to look for:

  • Any functionality that behaves differently, is it still usable by the mobile device user?
  • Does the layout display in a logical order and make sense for your user?