In this day and age, information and services previously only served by bricks and mortar are increasingly becoming digitised and accessible by websites and applications. Throughout 2020 and into 2021, this was made even more common with the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic. As such, a digital-first world can, if accessibility is not considered properly, become a severe barrier to entry to those with disabilities.
Website and mobile app accessibility has all too often been an afterthought in the development process, but with the importance of it ever increasing, it is vital to ensure accessibility features are considered early in the software development lifecycle (SDLC) – ideally at the requirement or design stage – to ensure this is an intrinsic feature of any development from the outset.
What’s more, advancing your Web Accessibility can enhance your brand, drive innovation, and extend your market reach.
Being accessible should be enshrined into the fabric of any organisation that develops an app or website that the public will use. Both the design and subsequent development undertaken should conform to the WCAG standards, rather than tested after the fact and corrected retrospectively.
This can range from visual choices made (colour palettes, font sizes and so on) to the capability of the website/app itself and its underlying code supporting things such as screen readers.
With that being said, Accessibility Testing should be undertaken as early in the SDLC process as possible, to ensure any development completed (or being undertaken) is conform.
In terms of why it’s important to design with this in mind from the outset and test early on, it’s 6.5x more expensive to resolve something whilst it’s being developed, 15x during testing and up to 100x once it’s gone live. Therefore, with accessibility being considered from the outset (i.e. design), not only is what’s being designed and subsequently built that’s more accessible, but it’s also much cheaper in the long run, versus doing this retrospectively once it’s gone into production.
How to perform accessibility testing
Accessibility Testing can be performed in 2 ways: manually and semi-automated.
Using these methods, organisations can identify areas of their systems – be that private (internal) or public (website/apps) – that require mitigative work or redesign to become conform to the WCAG standards.