If you have ever had a chat with someone who has performed an accessibility audit, they must have told you about the importance of manual testing. We all love to use automated tools because they do everything for us but they have certain limitations. In fact, automated testing tools can identify only 20 to 30 percent errors. Sometimes, the tool could even generate false results. Human element hence becomes pertinent to testing the process.
Introduction to Manual Accessibility Testing
Manual accessibility testing is one of the safest methods of measuring the accessibility of a web page. Before you get started, you must have a thorough understanding of the client side code. You can view that in the browser. As you perform this test, you will get to check the structure of the page and review the code. You can even spot accessibility problems which can’t be found if you are using an automatic tool or program. If you are performing accessibility test of a large website, you must make sure you follow a systematic approach so that all elements and pages are covered.
Why is it needed?
There are multiple accessibility issues which a computer program cannot replicate. This makes manual testing essential. This test helps you get into the detail of each web page. You get to test each page against the success criteria. The only problem is manual testing is time taking. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea to evaluate each and everything on a website against the success criteria.
To understand why manual accessibility testing is important and why it’s needed, have a look at the following benefits:
You can expand your user base:
Accessibility lets you fix the existing bugs on your site and add new features to improve website performance. As you upgrade your website and fix the errors, you eventually expand your user base.
You get to define disability broadly:
Disability doesn’t just mean physical impairment. It also constitutes behavioral, cognitive and learning challenges. People who are struggling with these challenges are not able to complete their routine tasks. With accessibility testing, you ensure that your website is able to serve all types of users on as many devices as possible.
Who should perform the Accessibility Test?
A manual accessibility test to check your site’s Search Engine Optimization or website performance must be performed by a trained professional. He should be familiar with the latest standards. His goal must be to comply your site with the WCAG 2.1 Level AA accessibility standards. He must understand the needs of disabled users too.
There are certain areas of a website that could be handled more efficiently if they are tested by humans. Automated accessibility can give you a comprehensive overview of potential accessibility issues but you will need manual testing eventually.
Remember that website maintenance that is accessible is going to be an ongoing project. You can schedule automated scans for your website at regular intervals but manual accessibility testing should be a part of the maintenance too.
After all, you can’t rely on machines for everything.