How to Test for Mobile Accessibility
Updated: April 20, 2021
Mobile interfaces are vastly different from desktop interfaces. While there are clear guidelines for desktop accessibility, things aren’t so clear when it comes to testing mobile accessibility. That is, until now.
In our latest webinar, Gian Wild, the CEO and Founder of Accessibility Oz, teaches us the what’s what of mobile accessibility and how to test for it. She was on the ICT Accessibility Testing Symposium committee and helped to create a methodology and set of guidelines for accessibility testing on mobile interfaces.
Below is a summary of the mobile-specific accessibility testing guidelines Gian shared with us.
Does WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 Cover Mobile?
WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 were written to be technology-neutral, so it applies to mobile interfaces. However, not all aspects of accessibility guidelines in WCAG are specific to mobile.
For example, WCAG 2.0 requires sites to be keyboard accessible, but not touchscreen accessible. WCAG 2.1 does expand on touchscreen accessibility, such as pointer gestures, sensors, and orientation. Yet WCAG 2.1 still doesn’t provide enough detail to cover the full scope of accessibility for mobile devices.
Time to Test Mobile Accessibility
Before getting started with testing accessibility on mobile, it’s critical to define the functionality of your mobile site or application.
Let’s say you have a banking application. Is the primary purpose of that banking app to allow users to monitor and manage their finances? If so, functions that enable the user to log in successfully or to view prior transactions should be accessible in addition to other critical functions.
Note that when it comes to mobile, every variation of a page needs to be tested for full functionality and accessibility. When a user zooms into a page, that page should still have the same functionality as it would in the default view.
Elements to Test on Mobile
You should always keep in mind the elements that are critical to your mobile site’s functionality. However, there are common elements to test as a starting point.
- Landing pages
- Emergency alert pages
- Login pages
- Accounts and profiles
- Add to cart
- Live chat
- Any high traffic areas
Gian emphasizes that the best way to test the aforementioned mobile elements is with real devices. That means using an actual smartphone or tablet to test for accessibility rather than with browser or mobile simulators.
Follow These Steps When Testing Mobile Accessibility
The goal is to provide a mobile-accessible site, and following these steps will help you to stay on track.
This step recalls the importance of defining the critical functionality of your mobile site or application. Before doing any testing, be sure to identify what needs to be tested and where. For example, are you testing Apple or Samsung products? Both? Which browsers will you test on – Chrome, Firefox, Safari? All three?
Once you’ve nailed down what and where you’ll be testing, you’re set to move on to step two.
After determining what and where you’re testing for mobile accessibility, it’s time to identify the site type and the variations of the page (i.e., zoom). Gian says there are three main types of mobile sites.
- Desktop site (non-responsive)
- Mobile site (responsive)
- m-Dot (site designed specifically for mobile)
In many cases, you may need to test for several types of sites and page variations. Understanding which type of site you’re dealing with will help you to conduct the correct mobile tests.
The final step is to conduct specific mobile tests. Gian and her team identified four main issues for which to test:
- Critical issues
- Mobile-specific issues
- Mobile assistive technology and feature support
- Mobile and desktop relationship issues
Gian and her team on the ICT Accessibility Testing Symposium committee agreed that it’s important to test across the full scope of mobile interfaces. That includes mobile and tablet devices, devices with assistive technology, and responsively-sized windows for desktops. Each interface presents different issues and challenges, which is why there are certain criteria for testing each one.
We hope this summary provided you with a good idea of what it takes to test for mobile accessibility properly. For more information and details on mobile accessibility testing, be sure to watch the entirety of our webinar with Gian Wild – Mobile Accessibility Toolkit.
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