12 Ways of Testing

The most thorough and complete way to test a website for its accessibility is to complete a full audit, meaning going through the entire site to identify and address accessibility issues. However, it is not always practical to audit an entire site all at once. When a full audit is not practical, prioritized quick tests and early bug fixes are a helpful way to reduce errors that may be found in later audits.   

Quick Checks

One way to prioritize your testing is to focus on features or pages that users have provided feedback on. With a limited amount of time, you can test a particular page or a particular workflow that is related to those features highlighted by user feedback.

If you find issues on one page or feature, try to determine if similar issues appear in related pages of your site. Once you identify and address one issue, you may be able to save time when solving other, related issues.

In-House vs. Third-Party Audits

When a full audit can be completed, it can either be performed by internal staff or by a third party.

In-House Audits

Auditing your own site (or helping internal IT staff do an audit) requires a certain level of familiarity with digital accessibility and accessibility testing, and enough human resources to carry out the audit. Completing the audit in-house could have additional benefits, such as increased staff familiarity with the site. Like quick checks, once you find one issue, you can look at related content or similarly structured pages that may have the same issue. Looking for these common patterns or issues and fixing them can lead to common solutions.

Third-Party Audits

Another option is to hire an accessibility consulting company to complete an audit, which comes with its own benefits. The auditors should have very up-to-date knowledge of web trends, testing techniques, and coding tips for your team.

Especially, when conducting external audits, it is important to approach the work strategically and define a clear scope of work. One way to prioritize the work is based on traffic, meaning the high-traffic or busiest pages will be tested first. A way to organize the work is through defining a series of sprints: short timeframes (typically a couple of weeks) during which a set number of pages will be tested and the findings will be reported on. Testing your site in sections could give you time to fix common issues between sprints. For example, you could define four batches of pages to test, or four sprints. After the first batch is tested, an audit report would be delivered, and your IT staff would have some time to address the issues. Then when testing starts for the second sprint, there should be fewer issues, since many would have already been addressed.

Usability Testing

Another option is to recruit (and preferably, pay) people with disabilities to test your site. People with disabilities will give you direct feedback based on their lived experiences, which will differ from person to person. Consider a broad range of people with different disabilities, for example people who:

  • Are blind
  • Have low-vision or colour blindness
  • Have dexterity issues
  • Have cognitive issues, such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or ASD (autism spectrum disorder)

When taking this approach, it is important to remember that every person with disabilities has a unique experience, and so you should not rely on users alone to determine whether your site is accessible or not. Usability testing complements, and does not replace, accessibility guideline conformance.



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eCampusOntario's Digital Accessibility Toolkit Copyright © by eCampus Ontario is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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