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Changes to accessibility testing for 2016-17

Mon 14 Nov 2016
Vicky Sargent

For the last four years, the accessibility testing for Better Connected has been carried out by Digital Accessibility Centre.  DAC’s team of testers includes people with a range of disabilities, most of whom are using some form of assistive technology.

This manual testing is essential to get a true measure of accessibility - something automated-only testing cannot deliver.

A simple example illustrates why this is so. To make images accessible, content editors may need to add ‘alternative text’ that shows up for people using screen readers and explains what the image is. While auto testing can tell whether ‘alt text’ is there or not, it cannot tell whether the text provided is meaningful. This aspect can only be tested by a human being. Other aspects of accessibility similarly require manual testing.

However, manual testing is an expensive resource and we have been thinking how we might deploy it more cost-effectively for Better Connected. Working with Digital Accessibility Centre, we have come up with a new, two stage process:

Stage one: DAC will run a limited test on all 416 UK council websites. This will quickly identify sites that would fail the fuller test used for Better Connected. These will not be put forward for the stage two test.

Stage two: this will use the same tests as previous years’ Better Connected accessibility testing – ie we will test three ‘top tasks’ including one from a mobile device, as well as a range of top level pages.

Sites that fail stage one will be provided with information on why they failed and may then apply for a second stage one test if they have fixed these issues. We will charge a fee for this test. If the test is passed prior to stage two testing (we will advertise dates), these councils can proceed to the stage two.

Councils will be deemed to have passed the Better Connected accessibility test if they pass both stage one and two, and this will be a requirement for achieving 4 stars in Better Connected.




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