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Accessibility testing and auditing

Alex Christie

3 January 2008

Accessibility testing

When it comes to accessibility testing your website the best way to do it is with real disabled users that will ensure to uncover all accessibility issues on your site.  Another benefit to this testing procedure is that whilst doing this, usability issues can also be uncovered.  Setting up this testing environment successfully can be very expensive, there are many levels of sight and motor impairments and different types of learning difficulties, to do a proper test you will need about 30 people. Surprisingly, accessibility testing actually brings up fewer problems (and therefore fewer recommendations) than an accessibility audit. This is basically because real users often don’t realise when a problem occurs so don’t voice their annoyance.

Automated accessibility testing

Automated accessibility testing is essential for getting a top level feel of how accessibility your website is.  The problem is that the tools can be quite limited, missing some of the important guidelines and reporting issues that aren’t actually issues.  To getting real recommendations for fixing problems an accessibility audit is much more useful.

Accessibility audit

An accessibility audit involves an accessibility expert reviewing your website, highlighting accessibility issue and giving recommendations.  The reviewer may complete a checklist of predetermined standards from the W3C guidelines.  There are a number of ways to complete an audit, such as navigating a site using screen reader software, a text only browser and only using a keyboard. The main benefit of doing an accessibility audit to evaluate your website is that they are cheaper and quicker than accessibility testing.

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