Accessibility Testing for Websites – Manual vs. Automated

There are mainly two different methods used for testing accessibility of a web page. One of them is the manual accessibility testing. This can be done by using a browser and a text editor. The other one is of course by using different types of automated testing tools that are designed to evaluate web accessibility. While there are specialists who prefer one method over the other, both of them have their own benefits and therefore should not be disregarded. There are also those who strongly advocate combining both these methods in order to obtain better results within a lesser amount of time.

Manual Accessibility Testing
Manual testing is actually the traditional method and is still preferred by many due to the safety and efficacy that it promises. However, even though it helps to determine accessibility of a particular web page, accuracy of the evaluation results depends solely on the knowledge and experience of the tester. This process involves a complete understanding of client side code. The code can be easily viewed in most of the web browsers. During evaluation, a tester checks through the page structure as well as reviews code whenever necessary. The process of manual testing makes it easy to find accessibility problems that are not possible to be found programmatically. Like for instance a testing tool or program can determine whether an image comes with a descriptive text, but a manual testing can show if the description that comes with it offers enough information regarding the image. In order to perform manual testing for larger sites, it is necessary to have a precise and detailed systematic overview so that all web pages and key elements are properly covered.

Automated Accessibility Testing
Many testers prefer automatic testing since they are done with the help of tools and they can provide with an initial assessment rather quickly. They can also provide a fair idea regarding site accessibility on a large scale. Another distinct advantage with automated accessibility testing is that as long as the pages of a site are properly connected, a tester does not need to worry about not evaluating any pages. Although it is always a great idea to go through the pages and double check the test results to make sure that nothing is amiss, a tester may need to go through a problem multiple times if it occurs repeatedly. The tester can also file repeated occurrences much faster if that is the case. Nevertheless, there are certain issues that cannot be detected by automated testing. Such issues depend on the guidelines or standards for which the tests are being conducted. For instance, when testing is being carried out for some specific syntax, like a valid HTML code, color contrast, or existence of some programmatic table headers, the tools used for automatic testing can definitely present us with 100% accurate results. On the other hand, automated tools cannot offer us reliable results if the tester tries to determine whether certain information is actually indicated by use of the color only.

 

Updated: December 2, 2017 — 12:30 am

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