Four Steps in Selecting the Right Tool for Accessibility Testing
There are many tools for testing checkpoints across various Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These tools differ in several ways, including functionalities (testing versus fixing), effectiveness, reliability, coverage across various guidelines, OS support, and cost. It is important to evaluate the quality of these tools, as they play a vital role in enabling an average web developer to create better websites.
One of the important phases in the accessibility testing lifecycle is identifying the right tool for doing the job. Standard evaluation methods will make it easier to compare different tools and would have a significant bearing on time, cost, and the quality of the final deliverables.
Here are four steps to help in selecting the right accessibility tool.
1. Ask relevant questions.
I rarely find requirements for accessibility testing clearly mentioned or documented in projects. It is imperative to capture requirements, and I think the best way to do so is by having a questionnaire developed to assess actual needs. Questionnaires help educate the client in understanding the accessibility parameters and deciding on which guidelines or standards should be focused on.
2. Budget for accessibility.
There should be an overall budget for accessibility testing, with the cost split across each phase of the accessibility testing lifecycle. Among other things, it should be decided whether you can purchase a commercial tool if the need arises. Apart from the license cost, two other cost factors to keep in mind here are the need for special hardware and employing differently abled users during the test lifecycle.
3. Accessibility coverage
After analyzing answers from the client questionnaire, the coverage in terms of the WCAG or any other standards needs to be derived. Once you have the in-scope actions clearly defined, start evaluating the tool or tools that will satisfy all the checkpoints of your accessibility needs.
4. Operating systems coverage
In my opinion, the most important aspect when selecting a tool is the OS coverage. Accessibility tools available are classified by their OS coverage, so it’s important to understand the technology architecture of the application under test, different protocols involved, the database, etc.
The table below depicts the most widely used accessibility testing tools across various guidelines and operating systems. The table also indicates whether the tool is a licensed one or a commercial one.
Selecting the right tool plays an important role in the success of an accessibility testing project, so it is vital that a structured process is followed during the process of narrowing down the field to a particular tool. Keeping the above four steps in mind while planning your accessibility testing will result in business benefits in terms of time, cost, and quality.