Automated vs Manual Accessibility Testing

Automated vs Manual Accessibility Testing

Key takeaways

  • Accessibility testing is necessary to ensure your website is accessible to everyone.
  • There are two types of accessibility testing: automated accessibility testing and manual
    accessibility testing.
  • Automated accessibility testing scans your website and mobile applications for different accessibility issues and provides immediate results. It is faster and cheaper than manual testing.
  • Manual accessibility testing is where accessibility specialists test a website’s or mobile app’s functionality. Its solutions are customized to the issues and focused on user experience.
  • The best way to thoroughly test the accessibility of your website is to use both manual and automated accessibility testing methods.

Digital Accessibility Testing: Automated vs. Manual

An inaccessible website could put your business at risk, so that is why an accessibility audit is essential to ensure your website is accessible to everyone, especially to people with disabilities. Web accessibility testing is done using either automated or manual accessibility testing methods. This article briefly explains automated vs. manual accessibility testing, its pros and cons, and which one you should choose for your business.

What is Automated Accessibility Testing?

Automated accessibility testing is a method to check your website and mobile applications for different accessibility barriers. Various testing tools help you scan your website, audit multiple documents and web pages simultaneously, and provide immediate results.

 

These automated testing tools ensure your website complies with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). It checks for elements that may make your website hard to navigate with assistive technology.

When to Use Automated Accessibility Testing

Accessibility concerns may appear as you make site updates, but regular testing can help you solve them. If you are running the same test repeatedly, automating is more efficient. Automated accessibility testing provides ease and speed – it can scan multiple pages on your website at a time, quickly identify common accessibility issues, and provide reports. This testing method is ideal after updating your website, redesigning a site, or launching a new website.

Advantages of Automated Accessibility Testing

Some software can scan the entire site, display accessibility issues, and provide solutions. Some benefits of automated testing are:

  • Easy to use: Any team member can perform an automated test to check for accessibility.
  • Speed: It scans thousands of web pages simultaneously and helps pinpoint recurring accessibility issues in a shorter time.
  • Cheaper: It is a cost-effective, one-time investment.
  • Track your progress: It tracks your web accessibility compliances and progress over time.

Limitations of Automated Accessibility testing

Some areas cannot be assessed by an automated tool. It can only be done manually. Some cons are:

  • Compatibility with Assistive technologies: It does not assess keyboard-only navigation or leading screen readers.
  • Details: It cannot detect color contrast or font issues in web pages, making it difficult for users to read the content.
  • False positives: Automated tests run at a 30 – 40% accuracy rate. It may show parts of your website as accessible when they are not.
  • Unspecific: The solutions provided are generic and do not cater to your specific concern.

What is Manual Accessibility Testing?

Manual accessibility testing uses real people to analyze a website’s or mobile app’s functionality. This testing is most effective when conducted by people with different disabilities, who decide whether the application strictly follows the accessibility standards. Users in manual testing can provide detailed feedback that helps design and create more applications. Some manual accessibility testing might include magnifying the screen or navigating with a keyboard.

Is There a Difference Between Manual and Automated Testing?

There are many differences between the two testing methods. Automated testing looks for technical errors and recommends precise fixes. The manual method allows you to experience your website like a standard user. It can help identify minor issues like optimizing the background to the fonts or structuring your content for better readability.

When to Use Manual Testing

Though manual testing takes more time and energy than automated testing, the input these users provide is essential to understanding the accessibility level of your website for people with disabilities. It is best used before a website launch, revamping a website, or updating navigational elements.

Advantages of Manual Accessibility Testing

An accessibility specialist can offer insights that an automated audit cannot. Some benefits of a manual audit are:

  • D-I-Y: From checking elements to reviewing readability, you can manually do everything from the automated method.
  • Keyboard navigation: Manual testing ensures that most functions are operable without a mouse.
  • User perspective: There are specific issues that testing tools can’t recognize, but users can, like readability, fonts, and more.
  • Specific: Accessibility solutions tailored to your needs.

Limitations of Manual Accessibility Testing

Unlike automated testing, manual accessibility testing doesn’t have many limitations. However, it does have some limitations:
  • Time-consuming: Non-iterative testing can be time-consuming.
  • Inconsistent results: There is a chance of human error, which can lead to inconsistencies.
  • Personalized results: The manual testing outcome mainly relies on the tester’s experience.
  • Expensive: This method requires an in-house team of experts, which can be expensive.
  • Non-scalable: The testing method relies heavily on human resources, and it can be challenging to scale with a lack of automation.
  • A Hybrid Method Is the Best Way Forward

    So, which should you choose? The best way to thoroughly understand the accessibility of your website is to use both.

    Automation is a good investment, but sometimes users may still have issues with accessibility. Thus, testing should be more comprehensive than manual or automated. The hybrid approach, a combination of automated and manual accessibility testing, ensures your website/mobile application is usable for everyone, with and without disabilities.

    For instance, once your website is ready for testing, running an automated testing tool can find any accessibility violations quickly. Review the test report provided and address the violations. Then, begin manual accessibility testing by real users with different disabilities. Prioritize fixing issues your users raise and repeat testing to assess the changes.

    Conclusion

    Integrating automation and human examination allows you to conduct regular checks to meet your accessibility goals, monitor your progress, and show your customers you care about their experience.

    Are you looking for a way to solve your accessibility issues?

    We offer affordable AI-powered automation solutions with unparalleled quality, accuracy, and scalability. Accessibility initiatives customized for your organization with PREP Remediation and Accessibility Solutions meet the latest ADA, Section 508, and WCAG standards.

    Talk to our experts and get a free demo here.

    Get AI-Driven Accessibility Solutions

    Empower your organization with scalable, cost-effective, and efficient tools for an inclusive user experience.

    Editors:

    Debangku Sarma

    Digital Marketing Associate
    Continual Engine

    Vijayshree Vethantham

    Senior Vice-President, Growth & Strategy
    Continual Engine US LLC

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