In this article, you will learn what tools we typically use in Accessibility Tests, where you can download them and find more information on how to use them.
In general, accessibility tools are categorized as follows:
Screen Reader Software: Reads out the page content on the screen
Speech Recognition Software: Converts spoken words into text
Special Keyboard: Easy typing using a keyboard especially designed for people with motor impairments
Screen Magnification Software: Dedicated to vision-impaired users for enlarging the display, so that reading is easier.
In this article, we focus on the screen reader software and keyboard navigation techniques.
In order to test for accessibility and use a screen reader, you need to know the basic
keyboard navigation keystrokes. On the following page, you can find basic keyboard combinations with the help of which you can navigate websites without using a mouse cursor: https://webaim.org/techniques/keyboard/
According to the American Foundation for the Blind, “Screen readers are software programs that allow blind or visually impaired users to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer . . . A screen reader is the interface between the computer's operating system, its applications, and the user. The user sends commands by pressing different combinations of keys on the computer keyboard . . . to instruct the speech synthesizer what to say and to speak automatically when changes occur on the computer screen.” Besides that, screen readers offer a variety of functions such as reading and finding text on the screen.
With the assistance of screen readers, visually impaired and blind people are able to operate applications, draft documents, send emails, surf the web, and much more provided that websites and apps have been adjusted to meet their needs.
For the following screen reader tools, we recommend watching tutorials on YouTube to get familiar with them.
NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access) is free open source software created to help
visual impaired people to operate with computer software and websites.
Visit https://www.nvaccess.org/download/ webpage
Scroll down and click Download button.
Run downloaded installation package and follow instructions to complete installation.
After installation is completed, you can run NVDA and from this point screen reader will narrate focused elements by keyboard or mouse and narrate text you enter into the fields.
Here you can find advanced keyboard combinations that you can use with your NVDA
reader to move on the web page content: https://webaim.org/resources/shortcuts/nvda
JAWS is a paid screen reader, which you can use 40 minutes for free. When the 40-minute session expires, you need tor restart your computer in order to start a new free session. Here is how you install and configure JAWS on your Windows machine:
Download the latest official version of the JAWS screen reader, which is one of the links further down the page. Please do not install the beta version as it is not guaranteed to work reliably.
Follow instructions to complete installation.
You will be asked to restart your computer to complete the process.
We recommend you checking out the Navigation Quick Keys for JAWS to get familiar with the software.
Apple computers with macOS operation system have their own built-in screen reader called VoiceOver.
To activate the screen reader functionality on your Mac, go to System Preferences.
Open Accessibility page (see first image below).
On the page that opens, tick the checkbox Enable VoiceOver (see second image below).
Via the Open Voice Over training... button at the bottom, you can launch a training that will teach you how to use VoiceOver on your Mac computer.
Visit Apple's official VoiceOver User Guide for more information on how to use VoiceOver on macOS Catalina.
Apple iOS devices (iPhones and iPads)
Devices with the iOS operation system have their own built-in screen reader called
Activate it by navigating to Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver.
Toggle the VoiceOver option at the top.
Click on VoiceOver Practice below to test every available gesture and what actions they trigger.
From this point the way you operate your iOS device changes. The following official article by Apple will help you with the gestures: Learn VoiceOver gestures on iPhone.
More useful articles about VoiceOver can be found in the table of contents on that very page, by visiting Table of Contents > Accessibility > Vision > VoiceOver.
Android devices (phones and tablets)
Android has its own screen reader called TalkBack.
Activate it by navigating to Settings > Accessibility > TalkBack on your device.
Toggle option Use service to turn on the screen reader.
Note the brief instructions below the Use service option on how to use Android TalkBack. For detailed information, visit Google's guide Get started on Android with TalkBack.
Color Contrast check tools
An important part of accessibility testing is to check if the color contrasts of texts on their respective backgrounds are sufficient, so that visually impaired people can read these texts with fewer difficulties.
There are two most used color contrast tools to conduct color contrast checks:
WebAIM's Contrast Checker lets you check the contrast for an individual HTML element quickly. If you want to check entire pages instead of a single element, check out WAVE below.
The Colour Contrast Analyser (CCA), which is available for both Windows and macOS measures color contrast ratios and provides information about their compliance with WCAG 2.1. The tool indicates, which WCAG checkpoints are failed based on its measurements.
By using the “Pinch” function, you can measure the colors of a text and its
background or enter them manually, and app will calculate the color contrast ratio.
WAVE is a free Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool by WebAIM. It is a suite of evaluation tools that can identify many accessibility and Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) errors. It provides visual feedback about the accessibility of a website's content by injecting icons and indicators into the page, which makes testing accessibility of a website much more comfortable for you and reduces your manual testing effort.
You can use the online WAVE tool or WAVE extensions for Firefox and Chrome to analyze color contrast ratios for entire pages.
To get started, check out this introduction by WebAIM.
Alternatively, you may want to try the HTML Validator tool by W3C.