Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Accessibility Testing Checklist

Accessibility is the attribute of a software application that makes it possible for people with disabilities use it. Accessibility is very important because a large number of potential users have limited abilities or disabilities. Examples of disabilities include visual impairments (from colorblindness to partial sight to complete blindness), deafness (partial or complete hearing loss), mobility impairment (inability of use hands or other parts of the body) or neurological (ADD, epilepsy etc.). Examples of limited ability people include people with limited education, old people with medical conditions and children. Thankfully, a number of assistive devices (e.g. screen readers, speech recognition software and Braille terminals) are supported in a number of operating systems. As testers, it becomes our responsibility to ensure that people of limited abilities or with disabilities are able to use the assistive devices with the application that we are testing. So what things we must test to ensure that the software application is accessible?

1. Each functionality and content is available using only the keyboard (not using the mouse at all). There is no requirement of a minimum speed of individual keystrokes.
2. Each page, each section and each table has a title that indicates its purpose.
3. Each text has a contrast of at least 4.5:1.
4. Each abbreviation or unusual word is explained.
5. Each link is self-explanatory.
6. Each label in the application is self-explanatory.
7. Each non-text content like image, audio or video has an equivalent text/ transcript.
8. Sufficient time is available to the users to read the content and take action based on it.
9. Each error message has text that explains the occurred error.
10. Help is available in text to the user from any place in the application.
11. It is possible to know the current location from anywhere within the application.
12. Color is not the only means of communicating any information. There is also an equivalent text indicating this information.
13. Similarly, shape/ size/ location on the page is not the only means of communicating any information.
14. There is no content that flashes more than 3 times per second.

This is only a partial checklist to ensure an accessible application. Refer the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines here for more information.