The question everyone asks is how do you conduct accessibility testing or which tools do you use? At BarrierBreak, the question that we focus on is who is conducting the accessibility testing.
Facts about Effectiveness of Automated Accessibility Tools
The facts are out there! The UK Government GDS Accessibility Team conducted an audit of automated accessibility testing tools and if you haven’t read it — you must!
I am just going to call out 2 staggering statistics from the audit:
- Automated tools identified between 17% to 37% of the accessibility barriers.
- Of the 143 barriers we created, a total of 42 were missed by all of the tools
So the question is can you rely on automated tools alone! The answer is quite obvious!
Automated Testing Tools — A part of the toolkit
At BarrierBreak, since our inception, we have always focused on manual testing. Automated testing tools assist accessibility testers to identify some of the challenges. But even there often there has to be manual verification.
A simple example everyone gives is image descriptions for images. It is easy to detect if an alt attribute is provided for an image, but it needs manual intervention to see whether the image description is meaningful.
We use between 3 to 5 tools, plugins, bookmarklets to help us evaluate accessibility! Automated Accessibility Testing Tools have to be a part of the toolkit used but can’t be the only one!
Let’s bring in the Who — People into Accessibility Testing
At BarrierBreak, our accessibility experts are key to our process. They are the people who test, analyze, validate and recommend the solutions.
We have always been focused on including people with disabilities as a part of our process. They are not only doing user testing! They are a part of the team that conducts the accessibility evaluation!
Native assistive technology testers should be a part of the solution since at the end of the day accessibility is about ensuring people with disabilities get access to digital solutions!
When I founded BarrierBreak, I was clear that I saw this gap in the industry that people with disabilities weren’t always a part of the solution!
When we think of the People First Approach, it is about our accessibility experts — who bring value to the product or solution. It is their inputs that are critical. They are the people that analyze the code, they are the people that recommend the solution!
So time to strike the balance between automated testing and manual accessibility testing and above all remember it is the people who are at the heart of the process.