You can find them everywhere. Hiding among church congregations, lurking in village halls, appearing suddenly at rehearsals, and ever-present in offices around the world. No one gave them this role, and it might not be a job that they want to be doing. Nonetheless, they’ve been here forever and won’t be going away any time soon. I speak not of cleaners, mice or even lawyers. No, I refer to the amateur AV engineer (aka audiovisual engineer).
Accessibility is arguably the ‘last mile‘ of web development. No matter how good your site’s design, tech stack, code and testing is, its accessibility is probably passable at best unless you’ve invested time and resources in getting it right. It’s also fair to say that a high-quality site is probably more accessible than a poor quality site, but this doesn’t mean that people with disabilities will be actually able to use it. But what can you, as a tester, do about this? This post introduces some key accessibility testing tools and approaches, and also provides some business context to help you advocate for accessibility in your organisation.
What is an accessible website?
In simple terms, your website is accessible if people with a range of disabilities are able to use it. An accessible site should also play nicely with common accessibility tools such as screen readers and alternative input devices. That’s it, really. In terms of compliance, you should aim to comply with WCAG 2.0 Level AA or better, but a WCAG-compliant site is not necessarily an accessible site. Likewise, an accessible site may not be WCAG-compliant, even if it is easy for people with disabilities to use!
Why should my organisation bother with accessibility testing?
Other than the fact that it’s the Right Thing To Do, there are several key reasons for an organisation to make its site(s) accessible: