Accessibility Tips Part 3

Perhaps the tip that beats all accessibility tips is the simplest one - to test your website using a screen reader. Even if you do follow accessibility guidelines chances are something will get overlooked. Testing the site with a screen reader is plain common sense. However, when testing with a screen reader it is best if you do this:

  • as you build your site - Test the site as you go along. Just like in anything waiting till the very end to find if there are any bugs is a huge mistake. By testing the site with a screen reader periodically you can catch small mistakes before it becomes more difficult or at least more tedious to address.
  • with your eyes closed - Let the screen reader do the reading for you. Listen to the output with your eyes closed to see if it makes sense. Although the screen reader might report things accurately you will realise that many times what seems to be easy to understand with the context of the layout right before your eyes might be a bit more difficult if your don’t see it. This way you can adjust certain elements to not only help accessibility but also usability. Note too that listening to the screen reader with your eyes open might bias you in what you hear.
  • with your eyes open - Not to contradict myself, but you should also listen with your eyes open aside from with your eyes closed to check for errors.
  • on test users - Make sure you include visually impaired people to help you with usability testing.

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