Manual Accessibility Testing: A Comprehensive Guide

Graphical picture of Manual Accessibility Testing
Manual accessibility testing is crucial to ensuring comprehensive accessibility for digital content. While automated testing tools are valuable, they may not capture all accessibility issues. Manual testing helps in identifying complex accessibility aspects and providing accurate solutions. At Continual Engine, we understand the pivotal role that manual accessibility testing plays in achieving comprehensive and seamless accessibility.
This blog post will explore manual accessibility testing, its significance, and how it complements automated approaches.

Manual Accessibility Testing Vs Automated Accessibility Testing

The demand for accesibility testing is increasing as businesses become more aware of the need for accessible websites. While automated accessibility testing tools are helpful for quickly checking large volumes of content, they cannot replace manual testing when it comes to identifying nuanced design and navigation issues. This is why manual accessibility testing is still essential to web development.

Accessibility Testing

Accessibility testing involves evaluating a website or application for compliance with accessibility guidelines. The guidelines ensure that people with disabilities can access and use the website or application as effortlessly and effectively as those without disabilities.

Automated Testing

Automated testing tools are commonly used to scan websites for accessibility issues. They are efficient for checking large websites but have limitations. Some areas where automated testing often falls short include screen reader compatibility, color adjustments, page titles, proper coding, keyboard-only navigation, and determining if a site is optimized for keyboard functionality. Sometimes, automated testing tools can produce false positives and negatives.

Optimizing Automated Testing

Automated testing reports may also generate false positives or negatives. Some common false negatives occur in areas such as structure and presentation, alternative text, color contrast with images, and non-distinguishable links. Automated tools are unable to understand the context or purpose of content, accurately assess alternative text descriptions, detect color contrast issues with images against background images, and determine if the link text is distinguishable.

Setting The Stage for Manual Accessibility Testing

Manual Testing

Manual testing involves humans evaluating various aspects of accessibility. Areas typically assessed during manual testing include distinguishable links, accurate alternative text, color contrast, keyboard accessibility, form labels, consistent navigation, text resize, timing, and use of sensory characters. Manual testing is crucial to catch issues that automated testing tools cannot identify.

Manual Accessibility Testing

Manual accessibility testing is essential because machines and programs cannot replicate human understanding and judgment. Manual testing ensures that the website is usable for individuals with disabilities. It is necessary in areas such as screen reader compatibility and keyboard-only navigation. Manual testing evaluates content readability in assistive situations that automated programs cannot replicate.

Before conducting manual accessibility testing, setting up the testing environment is essential. This involves configuring browsers and assistive technologies to test accessibility effectively. Additionally, creating test plans and checklists ensures a streamlined testing process. A well-organized testing environment is necessary to obtain accurate and reliable results.

Conducting Manual Accessibility Testing: Use Cases

Testing Web Page Structure And Navigation

Testing Images And Multimedia

  • Verifying alternative text (alt-text) for images, audio, and video content.
  • Ensuring accessible multimedia controls and captions for a diverse audience.

Testing Forms and Interactions

  • Validating form labels, input fields, and error messages for clarity.
  • Verifying accessible interactions such as dropdowns and accordions for keyboard and screen reader users.

Testing Color And Contrast

Benefits Of Manual Accessibility Testing

Manual accessibility testing offers several benefits compared to automated tools, such as:
  • Detailed examination of complex accessibility aspects that automated tools might miss.
  • Greater accuracy in identifying accessibility issues and providing appropriate solutions.
  • Improved user experiences for all individuals, including those with disabilities.

Challenges And Tips For Successful Manual Testing

While manual accessibility testing is valuable, it may have specific challenges. Overcoming these challenges is essential for successful testing. Here are some tips to ensure efficient and effective manual testing processes:

Overcoming Common Challenges

Manual testing can present challenges such as time constraints and subjective assessments. Adhering to established methodologies and seeking diverse perspectives can mitigate these hurdles.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

Efficient manual testing involves creating a well-structured plan, utilizing assistive technologies, and collaborating with a diverse team. Regular training and staying updated on accessibility standards are crucial for practical testing.

Collaborative Approaches

Involving individuals with disabilities, accessibility experts, and developers in the testing process enriches the evaluation and enhances the overall accessibility of digital content.

Final Thoughts

In the pursuit of an inclusive digital landscape, manual accessibility testing stands as an indispensable practice. Continual Engine’s commitment to transforming learning and accessibility aligns seamlessly with the meticulous approach of manual testing.
By harmonizing the power of generative artificial intelligence (AI) and human expertise, Continual Engine champions accessibility for all, including individuals with disabilities. As web developers and testers, let us embark on the journey of manual accessibility testing, embracing its significance alongside automated methodologies. Through this collective effort, we can craft digital experiences that transcend barriers, fostering an internet that truly belongs to everyone.
To learn about our scalable accessibility services, reach out to us at or visit
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Debangku Sarma

Digital Marketing Associate
Continual Engine

Vijayshree Vethantham

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

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