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A wholesome test strategy to ensure WCAG compliance

Web Accessibility to promote usage by one and all, including people with disabilities, is no longer a nice-to-take-on task. It is being increasingly demanded for by end users and mandated by universal standards and governmental regulations. Testing for web accessibility is a growing area gaining momentum in the non-functional testing bucket. Given the number of web standards to adopt and testing tools that are available, is there a single wholesome strategy to adopt to ensure an application’s readiness for its end users from an accessibility angle?

While what may be wholesome to one may not be to another, here’s a fairly representative strategy of what we use which help us with WCAG compliance. There are several compliances and standards specific to accessibility, but WCAG is one that we go with given that it represents the W3C body of knowledge. Herein we use a strategy which combines manual, automated and assistive tools in the test effort. There are several tools and browser toolbars available today, which comb through applications to report accessibility issues. While these are a good start not all issues can be exhaustively reported through such tools. For example, while WCAG requires an alternate mode of conveying information about an image, which typically is an ALT-TEXT, tools cannot validate the correctness of the ALT-TEXT content. They can just verify if the ALT-TEXT content exists. So, if the ALT-TEXT for a cat is mentioned as a dog, the visually challenged screen reader user would think the image of a dog is shown. These are instances where manual testing becomes imperative. In the manual category itself we combine both sighted engineers and non-sighted engineers testing to ensure we bring in a real end user impact in our test efforts. On top of this, off-late we have also been leveraging our functional testing scripts written in Selenium to take on accessibility testing using frameworks such as AXE. A recent webinar we hosted on this is available here. An important step in the WCAG testing process we adopt is the VPAT template – this voluntary product accessibility template, gives us an increased level of confidence about the product’s compliance to WCAG and serves as a good checklist in our test efforts. When such a combined test effort encompassing manual (both accessibility testers and disabled users), automated and accessibility tools/tool bars are used, the strategy indeed becomes a wholesome one enabling the product to meet the requirements of WCAG compliance.

About the Author

Rajini Padmanaban Rajini Padmanaban
As Vice President, Testing Services and Engagements, Rajini Padmanaban leads the engagement management for some of QA InfoTech's largest and most strategic accounts. She has over seventeen years of professional experience, primarily in software quality assurance. Rajini advocates software quality through evangelistic activities including blogging on test trends, technologies and best practices. She is also a regular speaker in conferences run by SQE, QAI STC ,ATA, UNICOM, EuroStar and has orchestrated several webinars. Her writings are featured in TechWell, Sticky Minds, Better Software Magazine. She has co-authored a book on crowdsourced testing . She can be reached at rajini.padmanaban@qainfotech.com