How to Conduct Accessibility Testing on Android Devices
The value of accessibility testing for Android applications in the development process and its impact on enhancing the app's availability and reliability among users.
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As per recent research by the World Health Organization, roughly 15% of the worldwide population is ‘specially-abled’ in some form or another. Developers creating a mobile application for all need to keep this 15% in mind. Other than creating dedicated applications for differently-abled people, making sure the current applications are disabled-friendly is a moral responsibility for every developer to ensure all their users are able to access their application with ease.
To accelerate this process, innovative tools are used to check if the applications are functioning as per the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG. This is where accessibility testing comes into the picture. Accessibility testing helps identify errors in software and functions incorporated in your systems and mobile phones to ensure that an application is accessible to people with disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities.
We’ll learn about these tools and their functions in detail, but, first, let’s understand more about accessibility testing and adding accessibility features to your existing applications.
What Is Accessibility Testing?
A subset of usability testing, accessibility testing can be defined as a kind of software testing service performed to ensure that the application being tested is accessible by people with physical disabilities like hearing loss, color blindness, and more.
There are special assistive technologies incorporated in systems and mobile devices for people with such impaired disabilities. This helps them operate software with ease.
There are four different kinds of software typically being used to increase accessibility in devices:
- Speech Recognition – It converts the spoken word to text, which can be replaced by normal typing.
- Screen Reader – This will read out the text that is written on the screen.
- Screen Magnifier – This helps enlarge the text on the screen for vision-impaired people.
- Special Keyboard – These are special keyboards designed for people who have difficulty in typing.
How to Perform Accessibility Testing
There are three basic ways to perform accessibility testing:
- Accessibility Scanner
- Manual Testing
- Automated Testing
One of the latest additions to the accessibility testing pool, Accessibility Scanner is an application launched by Google. It's free to download from the Play Store on Android and easy to use for you to identify issues with your application.
To launch Accessibility Scanner, once installed, go back to your Settings → Installed Services → Accessibility Scanner → and switch 'Allow permission' to on.
Now you are all set to test your applications with ease. Go back to any website or app that you wish to test on your mobile device and check the blue floating tick button. You will see an orange box around potential accessibility issues that will further display a summary and a link to detailed documentation on how to fix your errors.
Manual testing can be done easily, using your own mobile applications.
Go to Settings→ Accessibility → TalkBack → and tab it on.
Using this, the user can interact with their Android device without seeing the screen and observe any potential errors in the process while using it.
There are two ways to navigate your applications using TalkBack:
- Linear Navigation.
- Explore by touch.
This application allows you to interact with your application using a switch instead of a touch screen. There are various switches sold in the market that can be used by people with motor impairments. Examples include AbleNet, Enabling Devices, RJ Cooper, etc.
Automated Testing Tools
1. AChecker – Web Accessibility Checker
Achecker is a free accessibility testing tool released in the year 2005. Its 100% transparent, interactive, and customizable. It uses Open Accessibility Checks (OAC), a collection of checks based on globally available web accessibility guidelines. Currently, there are a total of 310 OAC checks employed by AChecker.
2. WAVE – Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool
WAVE is a suite of evaluation tools that helps authors make their web content more accessible to individuals with disabilities. WAVE can identify many accessibilities and Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) errors, but also facilitates human evaluation of web content. You can easily use the online WAVE tool by entering a web page address (URL) in the field provided on their page. They have WAVE Firefox and Chrome extensions that are also available for testing accessibility directly within your web browser.
3. Accessibility Insights for Android
Accessibility Insights for Android is a service that helps developers find and fix accessibility issues in Android applications. It runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux and gives you the freedom to test apps on a hardware device or on an Android Virtual Device. You need to install Android Studio as a prerequisite to be able to use this.
4. WCAG Accessibility Checklist for Android
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG Accessibility Checklist, helps incorporate accessibility directly into digital design. It allows you to optimize websites and meet important legal standards. It has an accessibility checker and reporting tool that includes a To-Do list that gives reminders and checklists to help you achieve the three tiers of accessibility compliance — Levels A, AA, and AAA.
Having a professional approach towards accessibility testing is a mandate you must have along with ensuring quality delivery in the testing process. Follow these steps to improve your Android app's availability and reliability!
Published at DZone with permission of Mohit Shah. See the original article here.
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