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Accessibility Testing on Mobile Devices: What’s Different and What’s Not

By Rosemary Musachio, CPACC posted 07-18-2016 12:38


Testing a webpage for accessibility on a PC is quite different than testing it on a mobile device.  Instead of testing for keyboard navigation, which cannot be done on a mobile phone, links and buttons must be checked if they’re large enough and spaced so users with dexterity impairments can tap them easily.  Testers must see if alternatives are provided for gestures, such as pinching the screen, for dexterity capability also.  Additionally, content should be tested if it can be resized so it can be comprehensible while scrolling.

Yet, a webpage on a PC and a webpage on a mobile device can present similar accessibility issues.  For instance, if you can’t differentiate content on a bright yellow background on a PC, you definitely cannot see it on a smaller screen.  Other shared issues involve screen readers.  Images should have text equivalents regardless if screen reader users access content on a desktop or a tablet.  The same concept applies to labels for form fields.

Screen readers like VoiceOver for iphone and TalkBack for Android can be used to test shared issues.  Yet, specific tools are needed for issues that are exclusive to mobile devices.  Google developed a tool specifically for testing webpages on Android devices called Accessibility Scanner.  Once you open an app that you want to test, tap Accessibility Scanner to test for such issues as the absence of larger text on links and buttons, the lack of color contrast of content,  and the size of clickable items,   The issues appear in a menu list on top of the screen.  Tap on an issue and it is highlighted on the screen that it appears.  The testing app also suggests techniques to resolve issues and lists problematic code.

Another app to test mobile accessibility is called Deque Accessibility University.  It shows developers examples of barriers that persons with disabilities may face using mobile devices.  The app also describes how to fix issues.  For instance, the developer selects “labels” from the dropdown menu.  Then he can experience how an unlabeled form field using a screen reader, such as VoiceOver for Apple IOS or Talkback for Android.  In the near future, the app will be open so developers can see the code for each solution.

By Rosemary Musachio, Ruh Global Communications, Chief Accessibility Officer

SSB Bart Group extended its Accessibility Management Platform (AMP) to testing webpages on mobile devices.  Based on accessibility best practices, AMP performs automated testing where an URL is entered and then it shows issues and solutions.  It further tests from source code editors so developers can implement accessibility from the start of creating a web app, saving money and time in the long run.

If time is of the essence, the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) provides mobileOK Checker when an URL or source code of a mobile webpage can be entered, or a mobile page can be uploaded.  Validation results are based on Mobile Web Best Practices.

Accessible webpages on mobile devices are beneficial to everyone, not just users with disabilities.  Spaced elements help users who have larger fingers, not just those with dexterity impairments.  Alternatives for gestures, such as voice commands, can help people whose hands are doing other things like driving or cooking.  Ensuring content is limited on a webpage assists not only users with cognitive impairments but also all other users to save money on bandwidth.  That’s why testing mobile webpages for accessibility properly with specific tools is necessary so everyone can access web content.


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#AXSChat: Join Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken, and Antonio Santos for a weekly Twitter Chat on Disability Inclusion, ICT Accessibility, Built Environment, CRPD, Empowerment and Employment. Just search the hashtag #AXSChat at 3pmEST and join the conversation.  You can learn more about AXSChat at