In this digital age, mobile apps have become essentiall to our lives. Mobile apps have a significant role in every walks of life. And all these mobile applications vary greatly in their design and functionality. Especially when it comes to accessibility and inclusion, many critical factors are frequently neglected. And because of that users with disabilities face significant barriers when trying to use mobile apps that do not prioritize accessibility.
To ensure that your mobile app is accessible and inclusive to all users, it is crucial to perform comprehensive accessibility testing. The old fashioned way of testing is the build a mobile device lab and check the accessibility parameters on each of them. In this blog, we will explore some essential and modern tips for mobile app testing for accessibility and inclusion. We will also discuss how modern tools can assist in this process.
Before diving into testing tips, let’s clarify what we mean by accessibility and inclusion in the context of mobile apps. Accessibility in mobile app design is crucial for ensuring that everyone, including people with disabilities, can use them effectively. Here’s how accessibility can be integrated into mobile apps:
- Screen Readers: Apps should be compatible with screen readers that convert text to speech, allowing blind users or those with severe visual impairments to understand the content.
- Contrast and Font Options: High contrast color schemes and the ability to adjust font size can help users with mild to moderate vision impairments.
- Captions for Videos: Providing captions or subtitles for video content can help users who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Visual Alerts: Instead of audio alerts, apps can offer visual or vibrating alerts for notifications.
- Keyboard Navigation: Ensuring that all app functions can be accessed via a keyboard helps users with limited mobility who may not be able to use a touchscreen effectively.
- Voice Commands: Incorporating voice recognition can allow users to navigate and interact with the app hands-free.
- Simple Layout and Navigation: A straightforward layout with clear, consistent navigation can help users with cognitive impairments.
- Avoiding Time-Based Tasks: Not requiring quick responses in an app can be beneficial for users with cognitive delays.
General Accessibility Features:
- Customizable Interfaces: Allowing users to customize their user interface can make apps more accessible. This could include changing color schemes, button sizes, or layout.
- Testing with Various Users: Including people with ability impairment in the testing can give valuable insights into the app’s accessibility.
Developing with accessibility in mind makes apps more inclusive and also improves the overall user experience for everyone. Since we have a clear understanding of these concepts, let’s explore some practical tips for testing mobile apps for accessibility and inclusion.
Conduct User Testing
User testing is a critical step in ensuring that your mobile app is accessible and inclusive. Involve people with disabilities in the testing process. Their feedback and real-world experiences will provide valuable insights into how well your app accommodates their needs.
How to Conduct User Testing
You can recruit individuals with disabilities as beta testers or use specialized usability testing services that cater to this demographic. Conduct usability sessions where users with disabilities interact with your app and provide feedback. Pay close attention to their experiences, frustrations, and suggestions for improvement.
Familiarize Yourself with Accessibility Guidelines
For thorough accessibility testing, understanding established guidelines and standards is crucial. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), are regarded as the benchmark in the industry. These guidelines offer a detailed framework to ensure web and mobile content is accessible to all users.
WCAG is divided into four principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (POUR). Each principle has specific guidelines and success criteria. Familiarize yourself with these principles and criteria to ensure that your app aligns with recognized accessibility standards.
LambdaTest, offers a feature to check your website against the WCAG guidelines. This can be a valuable tool for assessing your app’s compliance with accessibility standards.
Use Automated Accessibility Testing Tools
Automated accessibility testing tools can help you quickly identify common accessibility issues in your mobile app. These tools scan your app for issues like missing alt text for images, improper HTML markup, and inadequate keyboard navigation.
Leveraging Automated Tools with LambdaTest
LambdaTest offers integration with various accessibility testing tools, such as Axe and NVDA, which can be seamlessly incorporated into your testing workflow. By using these tools, you can perform a preliminary assessment of your app’s accessibility and address any glaring issues early in the development process.
Manual Testing for Real-World Scenarios
While automated testing tools are valuable, manual testing is equally important. Manual testing allows you to simulate real-world scenarios and interactions that automated tools may not capture accurately. Here are some aspects to focus on during manual testing:
Manual Testing Scenarios
- Keyboard Navigation: Ensure that all interactive elements in your app are navigable using a keyboard alone. Test tab order, focus styles, and keyboard shortcuts. Verify that users can perform essential tasks without relying on a mouse or touch screen.
- Screen Readers: Test your app with screen reader software like VoiceOver (iOS) or TalkBack (Android) to ensure that users with visual impairments can access and interact with your app’s content. Check for proper labeling of interactive elements and meaningful alt text for images.
- Color Contrast: Check that text and interactive elements have sufficient color contrast to be easily distinguishable by users with low vision. Ensure that color is not the sole means of conveying important information.
- Captions and Transcripts: Verify that multimedia content (videos and audio) includes captions or transcripts to make it accessible to users with hearing impairments. Test the quality and accuracy of captions.
- Alternative Text: Ensure that all images have descriptive alternative text (alt text) to provide context to users with visual impairments. Alt text should convey the purpose and content of the image.
- Font Size and Scalability: Test the app’s font size scalability to accommodate users who may need larger text. Ensure that text remains readable and does not break the layout when users adjust font sizes.
Test with Different Devices and Platforms
Mobile applications operate across a multitude of devices, operating systems, and display dimensions. To guarantee its proper functionality for every user, it’s critical to perform tests on a broad spectrum of devices and platforms. LambdaTest provides an extensive testing platform for both devices and browsers, enabling you to evaluate your mobile app on various devices and operating systems, such as iOS and Android.
Comprehensive Device Testing
It’s important to account for the diversity of devices, screen resolutions, and operating system versions. Make sure to conduct tests on both iOS and Android platforms, covering a range of devices like smartphones and tablets. It’s essential to design your app so that its layout and functionalities smoothly adjust to different screen sizes and orientations.
Internationalization and Localization Testing
To be truly inclusive, consider internationalization and localization testing. Ensure that your app is accessible to users in different regions, languages, and cultural contexts. Test for language support, date and time formats, and other region-specific content.
Take into account the global reach of your app. Test it with different language settings, and ensure that content and interface elements adapt correctly to different languages and cultural norms. Verify that date formats, currencies, and units of measurement are appropriate for each region.
Making your app easy to use and fast is important. If an app is slow or doesn’t respond well, it can be hard for everyone to use, especially for people with disabilities who might use special tools to help them. Test how fast and responsive your app is, so everyone can have a good experience using it.
Optimize your app’s performance by minimizing load times, reducing server requests, and optimizing image and multimedia content. Pay attention to the performance of accessibility features such as screen readers, ensuring they provide a seamless experience for users.
Continuous Testing and Updates
Accessibility and inclusion are not one-time efforts but ongoing processes. As you develop new features or make updates to your app, be sure to conduct accessibility testing regularly. This helps you catch and fix any new accessibility issues that may arise during development.
Integrating Accessibility into CI/CD
LambdaTest’s integrations with continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines can automate the testing process, ensuring that accessibility testing is part of your development workflow. Implement automated accessibility checks at each stage of development to catch and address issues early.
Seek Expert Guidance
If you are unsure about how to conduct accessibility testing effectively, consider seeking guidance from accessibility experts or organizations specializing in accessibility consulting. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations to improve your app’s accessibility and inclusion.
Engage with accessibility experts who can conduct thorough audits of your app and provide detailed reports on areas that need improvement. Their expertise can help you implement best practices and stay up-to-date with evolving accessibility standards.
Gather User Feedback
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of user feedback. Encourage your app’s users, including those with disabilities, to provide feedback on their experiences. Actively listen to their suggestions and concerns and use this feedback to make your app more accessible and inclusive.
Prioritize user feedback as a driving force behind your app’s accessibility and inclusion efforts. Create channels for users to report accessibility issues and provide suggestions. Regularly incorporate user feedback into your development cycle to continually improve your app’s accessibility.
How to do Accessibility Testing on LambdaTest
LambdaTest, an AI-powered test orchestration and test execution platform, that allows automation testing and an easy-to-use solution powered with NVDA for conducting accessibility tests. Follow this step-by-step guide to use LambdaTest for accessibility testing:
- Sign Up and Log In: To get started with LambdaTest, sign up for an account and log in to your LambdaTest account.
- Access Real-Time Testing: From the left sidebar, select “Real-Time Testing” and then click on “Browser Testing.”
- Enter Test URL and Configuration: Enter the URL of the website or web app you want to test. Choose the desired browser version, operating system, and screen resolution. After configuring these settings, click on “START.”
- Launch Cloud-Based Machine: LambdaTest will launch a cloud-based machine with your specified configurations. Once the machine is ready, you can proceed to test the accessibility of your website.
- Accessibility Settings: Click on the “Settings” icon within the testing environment and choose the “Accessibility” option.
- Enable Screen Reader: In the Accessibility settings, select the checkbox labeled “Screen Reader.” This option activates the screen reader, which provides a verbal description of your web page using VoiceOver.
- Perform Accessibility Testing: With the screen reader enabled, you can navigate through your website or web app to evaluate its accessibility. Listen to the verbal descriptions and interactions to identify any accessibility issues.
LambdaTest simplifies the process of accessibility testing by integrating the Screen Reader feature, allowing you to perform evaluations with ease.
To sum up, conducting accessibility and inclusion tests for mobile apps is essential for reaching the broadest audience and ensuring a positive experience for every user. By implementing these tips and utilizing resources like LambdaTest, you can detect and resolve accessibility concerns early in the development cycle. This approach contributes to creating a mobile app that is more inclusive and user-friendly.
Remember that accessibility and inclusion are ongoing commitments. Continuously learn, test, and enhance your mobile app to make it a friendly and accessible environment for users of all abilities and backgrounds. Adhering to these detailed guidelines and consistently aiming for inclusivity can profoundly affect the experience of all who use your app.