Accessibility testing: Assitive technology testing

WCAG 2.1 states that in order to be compliant, a website must work with a range of user agents, including assistive technologies. A user agent is anything a person is using to navigate your website, such as a browser and a screen reader.

The 3 main types of assistive technology are:

  • Screen reading software
  • Voice regonition software
  • Screen magnification software

For compliance, as a minimum, you should test your service with at least 1 of each of the 3 main types. However, to make sure your website is as accessible as possible, you should follow the GOV.UK Service Standard’s recommendations for assistive technology combinations.

Screenreader testing

Every page should be tested using common screenreaders. If you’re using Apple devices you can use Voiceover for free, and if you’re using Windows then you can use NVDA for free.

When testing the screenreader you should test all of the functionality. Everyone is different, and some people will use different shortcut keys to navigate around, so making sure your website works with all of the offered functionality is the best way to make sure it works for everyone.

If you have dynamic content, such as pop-ups or text which expands or collapses, then you need to make sure the dynamic content is announced to a screenreader when the page changes.

Screen reader testing templates

If you’re unsure what to test, you can use our screen reader testing templates to make sure you cover everything which is needed:

Common screenreaders:

Voice recognition testing

Every page should be tested using voice recognition software. If you’re using Apple devices you can use Voice Control for free, and if you’re using Windows then you can use Speech Recognition for free.

Voice recognition testing templates

If you’re unsure what to test, you can use our voice recognition testing templates to make sure you cover everything which is needed:

Common voice recognition software:

Screen magnifier testing

As part of WCAG 2.1 criterion 1.4.4 - Resize Text you need to be able to zoom in to 200% without any loss of content or functionality. This means you need to use the browsers built in zoom first. You can use command (CMD) and the plus key on a Mac, or the control (CTRL) key and the plus key on Windows.

When zoomed in to 200% on the browser, you must check that no content flows off the side of the screen where you can’t get at it, and none of the content is overlapping. All interactive elements must remain interactive and the area you click on must scale with the element.

Once you have satisfied this criterion, you should continue to test with a screen magnifier. If you’re using an Apple device you can use Apple Zoom for free and if you’re using Windows you can use Windows Magnifier for free.

When testing using a screen magnifier, you should make sure that when zooming in, the text does not become unclear or distorted and that all parts of the page can still be accessed.

When zoomed in all parts of the page should remain zoomed in. For example if you open a drop down menu, the menu should have also scaled.

Common screen magnifiers: