Senior Testing Specialist, Yuztech Group of Companies
“Accessibility” or another little-known type of non-functional testing
By conducting functional testing, we most often understand the activity in assessing the quality of business algorithms of the program, which were initially formulated in a general way by the customer. Then they were reworked into the terms of reference for analytics, according to which the software was implemented by programmers in the application code. Yes, functional testing can also include testing the safety of using a software product.
But in the world of software quality control, there are other interesting facets that many have not even heard of – not only juniors, but even experienced testers. Among such popular types of testing as carrying out the load on the system, evaluating the reliability of the program, checking the localization into different languages of internal linguistics, within which the user has the opportunity to use the software product, and even studying the usability of interfaces, there is a not so popular type of testing as availability. Yes, yes, there is such a thing in the world of software quality control. And although you won’t see them in most software requirements, accessibility can also be very important and useful.
In a nutshell, it is the ability to use the content and mechanics of the site by a wide range of people with different abilities. In fact, it is worth thinking more about the issue of “impossibility”: ranging from the usual impossibility of using various audio content, ending with the complex susceptibility of the visual component. Responsibilities for this type of testing may include:
Evaluation of the usability of only the keyboard without a mouse for navigating the application (if there is no physical possibility of using the latter or the use of the mouse is limited). Tabulation is our true friend in dealing with such evaluation. You can always find a few bugs that are related to the availability of sometimes blocked content. For example, if you have a pop-up popup on a page, then the user’s script must be limited to just that window to work with the keyboard;
Checks for correct scalability of text and images (for visually impaired people). It is useful to check the scalability of graphic content, in particular, due to incorrect resizing, which can lead to a conflict of functional objects;
The contrast of text and backgrounds, the ability to customize the color scheme (for people with color blindness). By the way, the much-loved night mode is also included in this set of tests. Checking the operation of an application or a web page in this mode on a device is one of the duties of a tester;
The presence of an interchangeable pair of text/audio materials (the same subtitles or audio captcha). The ability to use one instead of the other is a convenient feature that increases the number of users of the application: informational advertising screens at stations, in transport or somewhere else, require a text addition to existing videos. But this is also necessary in applications – the same YouTube has long acquired automatically generated subtitles in a large number of languages;
The ability to use screen readers (special audio programs to explain the content of the site). This is a specific functionality, but you should also familiarize yourself with it in detail by reading thematic articles.
All this is very important in the daily life of people. All recommendations for improving the accessibility of web content can be found on the official guides page Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the premier international organization for Internet standards. They consist of a set of guidelines for making content accessible, primarily for people with disabilities.
For quality control, all of the above can be tested manually – this is more than possible, including using special tools. For example, to check the contrast of text and background (and the recommended ratio is 4.5 to 1), you can use the online tool Contrast Ratioor do it manually using the developer tools – there is an Accessibility section in the Elements tab.
You can also manually use a desktop screen reader to assess the accessibility of site content using this tool. For Windows, there is a free program that can be downloaded from the site. NVDA.
But there are also automated online tools that can help in researching the accessibility of web applications. They will require certain skills and qualifications of a software quality control specialist (in particular, a small skill in translating from English). To use them, you only need a link to the site – then the tool itself will help you figure out some of the intricacies of the accessibility of the page being opened. For example, WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool will help scan the page for possible problem areas in perception and put markers in such places.
There is also a tool Checkswhich parse the page code. Yes, according to its operation logic, it is very similar to a regular page validator in accordance with coding standards (for html code errors), but it works in accordance with the chosen accessibility standard (it will suggest problem areas with comments on how to fix them). Before scanning, you can select the standard by which you want to develop a recommendation for improving the page, insert a link to it and click CHECK IT.
After that, you will receive a list of errors and warnings with detailed explanations of why it is worth fixing. Unfortunately, both of the above tools have only an English version of the product, but any screen or browser translator can come to your aid, since there are a lot of them now.
You can test Accessibility both manually and using automated tools. The choice of accessibility testing approach is up to you. Yes, this type of testing is not applicable everywhere, but quality control specialists are also working in this direction to implement information environment accessibility programs. Do not forget that people’s lives can be limited by the environment. By conducting this type of testing, we make the world a better place.