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Home Guide What is ADA Testing and why should you do it?

What is ADA Testing and why should you do it?

By Sharanya R.C., Community Contributor -

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ADA compliance testing is a test run on an application to ensure that it complies with the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

  • Americans with Disabilities Act was passed to make websites and applications that are part of public accommodation accessible to persons with disabilities. 
  • Public Accommodation refers to websites, applications, or any digital product available to the public. 
  • So if your application is developed for public use,  it should be ADA-compliant. 

What is ADA testing?

Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that the websites and applications designed have features that can help differently abled people have seamless access to them. Along with the general public, the applications developed should also cater to people with disabilities like visual disability, hearing disability, speaking disability, cognitive issues, and any other physical or neurological disabilities. 

ADA Compliance Testing ensures that these conditions are met by the applications developed. 

For example, if the website has images, they should certainly include equivalent Alternate Text. Without Alt Text, the image goes undescribed. So, if the image does not have Alt Text, it becomes inaccessible to visually impaired users or users who utilize screen readers. 

How to find out if your website needs ADA Testing?

If you’re unsure whether your website is compliant with the ADA, here are some factors to consider:

  • The primary factor determining whether the website or application needs ADA compliance testing or not is the target audience. If it is an essential service, then it should be accessible to every member of the public.
  • If a website includes multimedia content such as videos and images, it’s important to ensure it is accessible to people with visual or auditory impairments.
  • If it includes forms or other interactive elements, ensure they are accessible to people with disabilities who may use assistive technology.
  •  If your website is not optimized for accessibility on different devices, including mobile devices, it may be difficult for people with disabilities to use.
  • If the application or website falls under the ‘Public Accommodation’ category, it needs ADA Compliance Testing.
  • All Government websites and applications need to be ADA-compliant.
  • Employers that have 15 employees or more.
  • Some jurisdictions have laws that require all websites and applications to be accessible to all. Ensure you follow up legally to determine if your application falls in this jurisdiction.

Testing your website for ADA Compliance

You can use the following methods to test whether your website is ADA-compliant. 

Crystal Preston-Watson, Quality and Accessibility Engineer at Salesforce, discusses how to integrate accessibility into your testing workflow by focusing on realistic changes. 

What is ADA Testing and why should you do it?

Manual ADA Testing

Manual ADA Compliance testing is a process where every page or functionality of the website or application is tested individually using input tools and accessibility tools to ensure that the website is ADA-compliant. Manual tests cover areas that automation tests and tools may overlook. 

Below are a few areas covered by manual ADA Compliance Testing:

  • Testing a website to see if it can be used seamlessly with and without the keyboard as the input device.
  • Visually inspection of the website to determine the following factors.  
    • Contrast colors
    • If the color indication is used to convey meaning.
    • Clear labeling, headings, and titles
    • Images with Alt Text
    • Non-sensory words should have sensory-worded instructions
    • Proper instructions are given for fields that require user input.
    • Proper labeling and description of audio and video content 
  • Page transformation testing to check if the page s responsive to zoom functionality.
  • Error handling instructions are clear.
  • Time limits are communicated to the end user. 

Though Manual Compliance Testing is time-consuming and tedious, it ensures all the functionalities are covered and is considered the most reliable method of testing accessibility.

ADA Compliance Testing on Browserstack

Try Manual Testing on BrowserStack 

Automation Testing for ADA Compliance

Automated accessibility testing of an application for ADA compliance is essential. Manual testing is prone to errors, and automation covers many use cases in a shorter period.

Automated ADA Compliance Testing can be a bit different than the usual automated testing methods, as accessibility testing involves testing the website or application with and without third-party tools and software like screen readers, speech recognition tools, etc.

  • Automation Testing for accessibility should be done from the beginning of design and development until the end. This can help avoid last-minute changes to the design and guarantee that all the accessibility factors are covered right from the beginning of the development of the application. 
  • The use of just simulators/emulators may not be enough. Automated compliance testing on a Real Device Cloud like BrowserStack is required. 
  • Automation Testing also covers integrating the website and application with various tools like a screen reader, speech recognition, etc.
  • There are tests by automated testing tools for specific aspects of code and content like readability, color contrast, headings, labels, and audio/video description.
  • Page structure and navigation can be tested extensively by automation tools.
  • Automation Testing of internal and external links is critical
  • Testing of buttons and PDF accessibility can be done through automated tests
  • Automation Testing covers all specific metrics available in WCAG guidelines. 

Automation Testing makes Accessibility testing faster and has much coverage. It may require multiple tools to test different aspects of Accessibility Testing. However, following up with Manual Compliance testing is essential to ensure the application or website meets all the ADA standards and WCAG guidelines.

There are ADA Testing tools that belong to specific categories like Screen reading software, screen magnification software, speech recognition software, special keyboard, etc. These tools help in effecting ADA Compliance Testing.

BrowserStack’s Accessibility Testing tool is highly reliable and delivers excellent results quickly. It is a web-based app for effortlessly identifying basic and complex accessibility issues in the rendered front end. 

  •  A central reporting dashboard that tracks all your accessibility issues across multiple test runs and enables easier VPAT report creation.
  • Keep a pulse of your website’s accessibility with easy monitoring using the website scanner.
  • A Chrome browser extension has a workflow scanner that automatically detects accessibility issues as you test website user workflows.
  • Assisted tests, a semi-automated method to find advanced issues by comprehensively analyzing your website. 
  • Access a range of Screen Reader-enabled real devices (Mac, Windows, and Android)

Try BrowserStack Accessibility Testing

WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are rules to ensure that the website, application, or any digital content is accessible to persons with disabilities. It is an International Standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). 

The WCAG is a set of 12-13 guidelines based primarily on four critical principles:

  1. Perceivable – The user should be able to easily process the information on the website. For example, video, audio, and image descriptions should be clear and accessible to all users. 
  2. Operable – The users should be able to navigate to different menu options and pages of the website or application easily without any hassle. All the functionalities should be accessible to the users. This also includes a keyboard and non-keyboard input.
  3. Understandable –  All the information provided on the website or application should be understandable to the end user. This also includes legible content and easy navigation.
  4. Robust – Your application must integrate effectively with third-party applications or software like screen readers and other assistive technologies.

Each guideline listed in the WCAG 2.0 has three success conformance criteria: A(lowest), AA, and AAA(highest). Many organizations work on reaching the AA level of conformance. 

How to make your Website ADA-compliant?

Following the WCAG guidelines to the letter is the only way to make your website or application ADA-compliant. However, if you follow specific rules right from the beginning of development, ADA compliance can be easily achieved. 

  1. Make sure to include Alt Text in images.
  2. Check the application’s working with input devices like mouse, keyboard, etc.
  3. Provide transcripts and captions for audiovisual content. 
  4. Ensure that all the forms on the website are accessible
  5. Colors are to be used with care. Avoid using colors as the only means of conveying information. Contrasting colors between text and background is necessary. 

Ensuring that your website is ADA-compliant is essential to make the application or website accessible to everyone. Following best practices and regular application testing will help with ADA compliance, meeting legal requirements, and making the application accessible to all, irrespective of the end user’s abilities. Overall, for a better user experience, ADA compliance testing is a must.

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