Automated Accessibility Testing
Automated accessibility testing is not a substitute for manual testing but it can play an important part in some projects.
Many automated tools are available, and we can advise on the selection and customisation that is most appropriate for your needs.
There are two main classes of automated tools, web-based services and desktop applications, and there are pros and cons to each.
Pros and Cons of Automated Testing
Automated testing alone is not sufficient to assess the accessibility of a website. It is possible, albeit labour intensive, to fully test a website manually but it is not possible to fully test a website using automated tools.
Depending on the size of the website and other factors we would usually recommend either fully manual testing or a combination of manual and automated tests.
- Automated testing is much faster than manual testing.
- Automated testing is more repeatable than manual testing.
- Some tools integrate with the development environment to improve the efficiency of remedial work.
- Some tools can fix some faults automatically.
- Automated tools can only test approximately a quarter of the 65 WCAG checkpoints.
They can highlight the need for manual testing of some checkpoints, but for others they can make no assessment at all.
- A lot of tuning and configuration can be needed to minimise false positives.
- Some coding errors and techniques can result in non-compliances not being reported.
- Data overload occurs if the website is not already reasonably accessible.
Tools can produce tens of thousands of error reports that are impossible to process in any meaningful way.
- Licensing for multiple users and multiple domains can become prohibitively expensive.
What about Bobby?
Shortly after the publication of the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines in 1999, the Centre for Applied Special Technology (CAST) designed an automated accessibility testing tool called Bobby.