From Hardware to Mobile Apps – What is Accessibility Testing?
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Digital accessibility is a term that is now universally used in reference to specialized hardware or software, or a combination of both, designed to enable the use of a computer by a person with a disability. Digital accessibility not only has direct positive effects on people with disabilities but is also often found useful by people without disabilities.
In terms of hardware, accessibility includes the layout and operation of assistive devices such as customized keyboards and mice, as well as button switches, sip and puff switches, mouth sticks, and head wands for users who are unable to use their hands to operate a computer. There are many different hardware assistive devices that have developed over time in response to the constantly changing accessibility requirements of individuals with a wide range of disabilities.
Making application software accessible and usable by as many people as is feasible is the aim of digital accessibility in mobile apps. For this to work, all users must be able to see and comprehend what’s on the screen and use the controls.
What is accessibility testing? Accessibility testing is the practice of making an electronic and information technology (EIT) product or service usable to as many people as possible. It makes the product or service accessible to those with disabilities, such as vision impairment, hearing disabilities, and people with other physical or cognitive conditions.
Hardware accessibility testing, for instance, entails a thorough assessment of a product’s hardware accessibility to guarantee compliance with Section 508 accessibility criteria and any other standards that could be relevant. This frequently entails completing a voluntary product accessibility template (VPAT) with the relevant accessibility standards for the specific product. The hardware of EIT products is made accessible to everyone, including those with particular disabilities, thanks to VPAT accessibility testing.
Examining if the keys, controls, and latches are easily reachable, recognizable by touch, usable with one hand, and simple to use are some of the primary focal areas that VPAT accessibility testing takes into account while evaluating EIT hardware. It is important to include it in the assessment because a lot of people with disabilities have limited movement, strength, and dexterity, which makes it hard or impossible for them to reach or activate badly designed hardware components.
Have you ever attempted to use a smartphone or tablet as a means of coping with a disability, or have you assisted someone with a disability in using one of these devices? If you’ve ever done this, you know how annoying it can be, especially when the devices have tiny buttons and screens that are challenging to use. By using accessibility testing techniques, Section 508 accessibility compliance standards assist in identifying these types of accessibility hurdles.
For mobile apps, accessibility testing ensures the apps and associated websites are accessible to people with disabilities. This includes various visual, auditory, cognitive, and physical disabilities. The goal of mobile accessibility testing is to guarantee that all users, regardless of their abilities or limitations, can access and use the features and content on these platforms comfortably and effectively.
Mobile accessibility testing, which involves manually checking mobile apps or websites for compliance with accessibility standards and guidelines, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), can be done manually by having trained specialists test the application or website, or it can be automated.
Automated mobile app accessibility testing involves the use of software tools that simulate the use of assistive technologies to automatically check if a mobile app or website is accessible. These tools scan the app or website and report any issues or potential problems that may make it difficult for people with disabilities to use.
You will no doubt appreciate the importance of ensuring digital accessibility for all EIT products and services when you visit a website or use a mobile app you cannot access properly. Some of the accessibility issues you’ll come across involve making the text bigger or the colors brighter so as to make it easier to read the content. Accessibility testing helps to flag out these barriers before the product or service is opened up for use by the public.
Accessibility testing therefore helps ensure that hardware and mobile apps are usable by all people. It is also essential for meeting the existing legal requirements, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Accessibility testing can also help reduce the risk of lawsuits related to discrimination against people with disabilities.
Accessibility testing can also help increase the overall usability of digital products, resulting in better user experiences and increased customer satisfaction. It also helps to ensure that digital products and services are accessible to users with diverse needs, such as those using assistive technologies or devices.
Digital accessibility testing also helps businesses and organizations meet their goals of providing inclusive digital products and services. It also helps identify usability issues, such as tiny text or navigation elements that are difficult to access, which may not be apparent to users who do not have disabilities.
Leading Section 508 accessibility compliance experts also agree that incorporating accessibility testing into the development of digital products and services can yield significant cost savings for a business or organization over time. Accessibility testing can also help a business or organization improve its reputation and general public perception.
Some of the key issues that accessibility testing should be keen to look for when assessing EIT hardware and software for usability and accessibility of all include keyboard accessibility, touch target size and spacing, text color contrast, text and font size, alternative (ALT) text, headings, and form labels. This checklist is not exhaustible, but it covers key areas to be considered when testing the accessibility of EIT hardware and mobile applications.
It is also essential to manually test and use assistive technologies, such as screen readers, to ensure that the EIT hardware and mobile apps are fully accessible to all intended users.
From hardware to mobile apps, accessibility testing is a critical aspect of ensuring that hardware and mobile technologies are inclusive for all users, including those with disabilities. It helps in evaluating the usability of hardware and mobile apps for users with disabilities. The process can be done manually or using automated tools, and it helps to ensure that everyone can access the same information and functionality using assistive technologies.
By implementing hardware and mobile accessibility testing, we can ensure that the ever-changing world of EIT hardware and mobile technology is accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical abilities. At ADACP, we are always ready to provide any assistance necessary to make EIT hardware and mobile applications accessible to everyone. Should you require any assistance with Section 508 accessibility compliance, reach out to our specialized team by calling (626) 486-2201 or scheduling a 508 accessibility testing consult.