Maintaining accessibility on your ADA compliant Website can be an ongoing challenge for many companies. It can feel overwhelming to check and recheck for all the various requirements of the WCAG 2. 0 or WCAG 2.1 every time there is a new release or update.
Common Sense Testing
It makes good sense that if you are building something to work with screen readers then you should test with screen readers.
When using a screen reader, you are actually using a browser and screen reader combination. So, testing should start with browsers known to be supported by the website. Next, test with the most commonly-used screen reader technology, if it is most likely to be used by your customers. This may be JAWs on Windows or Voice Over on Mac.
What you will need: Your team will need to decide which browser and screen reader combination to use and then set up key testers with the capability. You'll need to purchase licenses for screen readers and train user testers on how to use a Website with a screen reader.
Screen Reader testing instantly reveals issues in an easy-to-understand experience. If a link is missing a label, it will just say “link.” If different form fields have the same names then you will hear the same name repeated. This instant review of a site's features reduces all those WCAG success criteria into identifiable issues that teams can address faster and bring focus to key aspects of a site.
What you will need: Your testing team will need to know how a screen reader navigates through your core user-flows. The team will need to be able to set up testing scripts that reflect that user type.
The recent increase in ADA law suits and demand letters are nearly all brought by plaintiffs that use screen readers, so testing with screen readers and being sure your Website is accessible makes solid, legal sense. Documenting your testing, so your legal team has evidence that your site is usable with screen readers will bolster your defense if challenged by a plaintiff lawyer.
What you will need: The testing team will need to decide when a manual re-test is needed and ensure the time and resources are allocated as part of the testing release plan. Issues found by your testing team should be documented to allow the development team to review and establish cause and remedy. In some cases, documenting success to ensure evidence of screen reader support may be necessary as part of an ongoing accessibility settlement.
Screen Reader testing is a great way to ensure your Websites are accessible and usable by the biggest and most active group of assistive users in the market. But the activity can come with additional cost and training for your testing team. Understanding these advantages and challenges, companies like UsableNet offers services to help.