What is ADA Testing

What is ADA Testing

ADA testing is an essential process to determine if websites, applications, or other digital materials meet the standards set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These standards aim to provide equal access to information and services for individuals with disabilities.

To determine ADA compliance, testing covers multiple areas, including:

  1. Keyboard accessibility
  2. Compatibility with screen readers
  3. Providing alternative text for images
  4. Ensuring sufficient color contrast
  5. Implementation of ARIA tags
  6. Compatibility with assistive technologies for improved usability.

This evaluation often involves using automated tools, assistive technologies, and manual checks to identify and address any accessibility issues.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), established in 1990, is a civil rights law in the United States that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It promotes inclusivity by ensuring that individuals with disabilities have equal access to various aspects of public life, including employment, public services, accommodations, and telecommunications.

ADA testing typically includes:

  • Automated tools
  • Manual checks
  • User testing

Industries That Require ADA Compliance Testing

Businesses and organizations serving the public, including industries such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, and healthcare providers, must prioritize ADA compliance testing. This also extends to government agencies and educational institutions.

For public accommodations, it’s important to ensure accessibility, especially for digital assets like websites. Compliance involves aligning with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, a recognized framework for making web content accessible to individuals with disabilities.

To determine if ADA compliance testing is necessary, ask yourself:

  • Does my business fall under the category of public accommodation?
  • Is my website accessible to the general public?
  • Do I have an e-commerce platform for online transactions?
  • Do I offer services through my website? 
  • Do I have a platform for selling products online?

Answering yes to any of these questions suggests a need for ADA compliance testing to ensure inclusivity and accessibility for all users.

What Makes ADA Testing So Important?

Testing for ADA strengthens your legal standing, fosters inclusivity, enhances user experience, builds brand reputation, and expands your market reach by ensuring your digital content is accessible to everyone.

Benefits of ADA Testing:

1. Increased Audience Reach

Around 13.5% of the U.S. population reported having some form of disability in 2021, with a higher prevalence among older demographics. Given that 75% of disabled individuals in America use the internet, adhering to ADA compliance for web accessibility is crucial for websites to cater to this sizable demographic.

2. Avoiding Lawsuits and Penalties

Around 13.5% of the U.S. population reported having some form of disability in 2021, with a higher prevalence among older demographics. Given that 75% of disabled individuals in America use the internet, adhering to ADA compliance for web accessibility is crucial for websites to cater to this sizable demographic.

3. Brand Identity Establishment

Demonstrating commitment to accessibility not only builds trust with users but also reinforces brand recognition. In an era where consumers prioritize inclusive practices, investing in ADA testing signals that your brand values the needs of all users. This proactive approach can bolster your brand’s reputation and foster positive perceptions among customers and the wider public.

4. Enhanced User Experience

Making things accessible through ADA testing often benefits everyone, not just people with disabilities. Optimizing digital content for accessibility can improve usability, navigation, and overall satisfaction across a diverse user base.

Comprehensive ADA Testing is a proactive measure to mitigate legal risks, ensure superior user experiences, bolster brand recognition, and facilitate business growth by appealing to a broader audience.

What Are the Different Types of ADA Testing?

ADA Testing can be done in the following ways:

1. Manual Testing

Manual accessibility testing involves inspecting digital content manually to identify accessibility barriers that automated tools might overlook. This involves checking that interactive elements are accessible and correctly arranged for keyboard navigation.

2. Automated Accessibility Checks

Using automated accessibility testing tools to check digital content for accessibility issues like missing image descriptions, improper headings, color contrast problems, and navigation difficulties.

3. Assistive Technology

Testing out tools like screen readers and voice recognition software to see how people with disabilities interact with digital content. This helps find any problems and make sure the content works for everyone.

4. User Testing

Getting feedback from people with disabilities to see if digital content is easy to use and accessible. This real-world testing helps find any issues that other tests might miss.

Essential Tools and Resources for Effective ADA Testing

Equipping yourself with the right tools and resources is crucial for successful ADA testing. Here’s a breakdown of some essential resources to consider:

Automated Testing Tools:

  1. WAVE Evaluation Tool: This free online gem from WebAIM scans your web pages against WCAG guidelines, highlighting potential accessibility roadblocks.

     

  2. aXe (Accessibility Engine): This popular browser extension by Deque Systems acts as your accessibility inspector. It offers a free plan for basic checks and upgrades for more in-depth analysis, providing detailed reports to pinpoint problem areas.

     

  3. Lighthouse: Built right into Chrome DevTools, Lighthouse is a handy auditor for web page performance, accessibility, and best practices. It’s a great starting point to identify basic accessibility concerns.

Manual Testing Tools:

  1. Screen Readers:Tools like JAWS and NVDA are like virtual assistants for visually impaired users. Downloading their free trials lets you experience your website from their perspective, uncovering navigation challenges they might face.

  2. Screen Magnifiers:Imagine needing to zoom in to see things clearly. Tools like ZoomText magnify screen elements, allowing you to test how your website appears for users with visual impairments. Many operating systems even have built-in magnification options for your convenience.

  3. Keyboard Don’t underestimate the power of the keyboard! Navigate your entire website using only the keyboard. This simple exercise reveals issues with keyboard accessibility, a crucial aspect for users who rely on this method.

By incorporating these tools into your testing process, you’ll be well on your way to creating a website that’s inclusive and accessible to everyone.

Best Practices for ADA Testing

To ensure a smooth ADA testing process, here are some recommended practices: 

1. Master the Rules: Begin by thoroughly understanding ADA guidelines and WCAG standards.

2. Automate the Easy Stuff: Leverage automated testing tools to quickly identify common accessibility issues.

3. Deep Dive with Manual Testing: Follow up with manual inspections to uncover subtle accessibility problems.

4. Test Across Everything: Make sure your product works on various devices and browsers.

5. Include the Users: Involve users with disabilities throughout the process for valuable insights.

6. Document for Efficiency: Clearly document findings to streamline issue resolution and future maintenance.

7. Continuous Improvement: Regularly monitor accessibility, update as needed, and stay informed about evolving standards.

8. Empower Your Team:  Provide training on accessibility best practices to empower your team.

9. Seek Expert Help:  Consider expert guidance for a comprehensive evaluation, especially for complex projects.

10. Clear Workflows:  Establish clear and easy-to-follow workflows for efficient ADA testing.

11. Usable Navigation: Design intuitive and user-friendly navigation for all users.

Closing Thoughts

By prioritizing ADA testing, you’re not just complying with legal requirements; you’re actively building a more inclusive digital world. This translates to a wider audience reach, a stronger brand reputation, and ultimately, a more satisfying user experience for everyone. Remember, accessibility benefits all users, not just those with disabilities.

Taking a proactive approach to ADA testing empowers your business to grow while ensuring equal access to information and services for all. It’s a win-win situation for everyone! 

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Editors:

Debangku Sarma

Digital Marketing Associate
Continual Engine

Vijayshree Vethantham

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

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