As a software tester, I recently had the chance to work on several website accessibility audit projects. Website accessibility audits are done to find out if blind or vision-impaired people can access a website or app by using assistive technology (screen readers). Does the website adhere to Section 508 Standards?
It’s similar to making sure a restaurant or theater is accessible to a person with disabilities. The goal of the standards is to make information technology accessible to all.
Each time we test, I am paired up with a tester who is blind. He is a Subject Matter Expert on the standards and using the screen reading technologies. He and I share a website development background, but he has higher coding skills.
We visit our client’s website or open their app. We also load the screen reader software. The top screen reader software products are JAWS, Voiceover and Talkback. It’s fascinating to hear the screen readers read a website or app.
Here are some of the questions we answer when we visit a site to see if it adheres to the standards:
- Can the visitor navigate the site?
- Is the screen reader telling us correct information or jibberish?
- Can a person using a screen reader fill out a form on the website or not?
- Does the site say something that depends on vision such as “Click the green button”?
- Is the screen reader software missing important information?
As you may imagine, some webpages are highly accessible and some are not. We pinpoint exactly where the pages are deficient and what should be done to correct them. It’s been an enlightening experience for our clients and me as a seeing person.