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How AudioEye Conducts Manual Accessibility Testing

Posted June 27, 2022


Posted June 27, 2022

Accessibility icon surrounded by boxes
Accessibility icon surrounded by boxes

Learn how manual testing fits into a comprehensive accessibility plan and how AudioEye's Accessibility Testing team conducts manual accessibility testing.

Accessibility testing determines if digital content is easily perceivable, usable, understandable, and operable by all intended end-users, especially by people with disabilities, many of whom use assistive technology.

Whether you're considering accessibility testing to make sure your digital content and tools are accessible to all visitors, or just want to know more about it, here’s an overview of different types of accessibility testing and a step-by-step description of AudioEye’s manual testing.  

Internet browser with gears labelled Automated Testing and a keyboard labelled Manual Testing

The Different Types of Accessibility Testing

Accessibility testing is the practice of evaluating digital content against common digital accessibility standards set out by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and is most commonly pursued through a combination of automated and manual testing.

While automated technology detects accessibility issues faster and at scale on an ongoing basis, it cannot catch errors that require a deeper contextual understanding and direct human experience. According to AudioEye’s CMS Automation Study in 2021, AudioEye’s automation can detect up to 70% of common accessibility issues — which is on the high end of automation capabilities today. 

If you only use automated software to test website accessibility, you’ll always be missing issues it fails to catch. 

This is where manual accessibility testing comes in: people pick up where automation leaves off. Using keyboard-only navigation and common screen readers, such as Jaws, NVDA, or Voiceover, to test digital content, accessibility testers can find issues that automation simply cannot. 

“I have a great opportunity to find accessibility issues that may be negatively impacting a real person, help troubleshoot them, and then see them being fixed – knowing that issue won't be reoccurring for anyone else when they're trying to go about their everyday life.” - Kaely, AudioEye QA Manager, AT Tester, Certified JAWS Individual

Screenshots of AudioEye software

How AudioEye Conducts Manual Testing

AudioEye’s patented JavaScript-enabled automation solution delivers more than a billion remediations daily and is able to identify patterns as they emerge. 

But, well aware of the gaps in automation today, AudioEye also offers a rigorous manual testing process. 

Once the automated scanning and remediation of a client’s website are complete, AudioEye’s team of accessibility experts and assistive technology users reviews the results and is ready to begin manual testing.

1. Identify end-user paths on a given site

For each client’s website our manual testers review, they get specific “workflows,” which are the common paths an end-user takes when following the industry and function of that website. For example, the workflow of an e-commerce website typically involves a user searching for and purchasing products. So, if a user is looking to buy a pair of socks, the workflow represents all the steps it would take for that user to navigate the pages, find the socks, and purchase them.  

2. Manually test the workflow pages 

Using screen readers and keyboard-only navigation commands, a manual tester starts on the homepage and goes through the workflow, manually testing each page, top-to-bottom, for issues missed by automated scanning.

Amongst many other common accessibility issues, testers check the following: 

  • All buttons and form fields on a page have labels and can be activated with keyboard commands.
  • Images have appropriate alt text that a screen reader can read to describe the image.
  • All the links have context, meaning the link description tells the end-user exactly where it will take them. 
  • Navigation of pages makes logical sense and content is organized well, preferably using headings to describe the content that follows.

3. Test against WCAG

After testing against workflows, our manual testers start another round of testing, this time against WCAG – the commonly-used framework to measure a website’s level of accessibility and legal compliance – and for the general usability of the website. To do this, AudioEye’s testers follow a checklist.

4. Log all accessibility issues 

As testers go through a website, they are logging all accessibility issues found across four vectors: 

  1. A description of the accessibility issue that was discovered. 
  2. How the issue should properly function when fixed.
  3. Which WCAG principle the accessibility issue fails to address: perceivable, operable, understandable, or robust.
  4. To prioritize what issues should be fixed first, each issue is given an impact rating based on the severity of the accessibility barrier. An example of a high-impact issue is a checkout button that can’t be activated with the enter key, preventing the end-user from completing a purchase.

5. Developer remediation

Once manual testers log all the issues across pages and workflows, AudioEye developers go through every logged accessibility issue and create automated fixes.

6. Manually re-test to ensure fix

Following the remediations, the testing team does another round of manual testing to ensure that all of their previously-logged issues have been fixed by the developers. If not, the issues are sent back to the developers – a process that continues until every issue is resolved.

7. Go live!

The amount of time it takes to manually test a website depends on the size of the website. For example, a small e-commerce website might only take an hour, while a complex site with many pages and products, or more dynamic, interactive content can take up to eight hours. But once we finish testing, your website is fully accessible! 

Internet browser with an AudioEye accessibility score progress bar

A Comprehensive Accessibility Plan

To make sure all accessibility issues are caught and fixed on your website, put in place a comprehensive accessibility plan that includes both automated and manual accessibility testing

Similar to AudioEye, most manual testing companies test for accessibility issues and provide a report, but many stop there – which means the clients are required to fix the issues themselves. The problem here is that not everyone is well-versed in accessibility, knows how to fix accessibility issues, or even has the time and other resources to do so. Manual testing and remediation are expensive and unsustainable for the majority of small and mid-sized businesses.  

Combining patented AI technology and a team of certified testers, AudioEye’s hybrid approach provides automated and manual testing and remediation, supported by live and ongoing monitoring, training resources, expert advice, and more.

Ready to test your website for accessibility?

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