Software developers often know that they need to test their software for performance, device compatibility and security, but too often forget about another important type of testing: software accessibility testing. After all, the need for user accessibility may not be one that’s initially obvious. To many, the “default” software user is someone who can read your software’s content, listen to a video clip or input relevant user information. Unfortunately, this assumption leaves out a huge number of users–those with disabilities.
What Does it Mean for Software to Be Accessible?
Accessible software is software that is developed and designed specifically to make it useable to people with disabilities. This ranges from just not designing a website to have green text on a red background of similar value (colorblindness) or making sure to include alt-img descriptions for all graphic assets (visual impairment), to providing user interface customization or making your software compatible with voice browsers, accelerators and text-to-speech tools. Full accessibility requirement for websites can be referenced in W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Why is Software Accessibility Important?
Software users who are hard of hearing, vision impaired, or who suffer from a physical or mental condition that does not allow them to interact with your software as intended are still your users. Ignoring their needs not only means you’re limiting your pool of customers, it can also, in some cases, be illegal to lack software accessibility.
Even if you aren’t legally required to make your website or software accessible, it is still a good idea to do so. If making sure that all users have easy access to your software isn’t enough of an incentive, you are also making your software more convenient for those without disabilities. Think about it: how annoying would it be to try and watch TV while on the gym’s treadmill if the program didn’t have closed captioning? How useful is it to be able to easily dictate a text or email to your phone? If you’ve ever learned the weather report by asking Alexa or Google Assistant, you’ve benefited from technology that was originally created to make software and content more accessible.
How do I Make Sure My Software is Accessible?
Often, making your software accessible is easier than it may initially seem. There are a number of easy changes you can make to the design of your website or software to make sure its input, presentation, interaction and perception easy to use. Simple design adjustments like the font or size of your text, including alt-text and closed captioning on images or video, and making sure the transcripts to any audio content is available are all quick changes that can help you keep your software more accessible.
For more information on how to evaluate your website or software for accessibility, use resources like the World Wide Web Consortium or uiAccess, include feedback from disabled users in your development and testing process, or ask the software accessibility testing engineers here at iBeta to help evaluate your software accessibility today.