As a QA engineer, one of your primary responsibilities is to ensure that the web applications you test are accessible to users with disabilities. Web accessibility is not just a ethical consideration, but also a legal requirement in many countries. Failing to comply with accessibility standards can result in lawsuits, fines, and damage to your company’s reputation.

To help you navigate the world of web accessibility testing, we’ve compiled a list of the top tools that every QA engineer should know. These tools will help you identify and resolve accessibility issues, ensuring that your web applications are inclusive and usable for everyone.

WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool): WAVE is a free web accessibility testing tool developed by WebAIM. It analyzes web pages and provides detailed reports on potential accessibility issues, including errors, alerts, features, structural elements, and HTML5 and ARIA compliance. WAVE is available as a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox, as well as an online service.

Axe (Accessibility Engine): Axe is an open-source accessibility testing tool developed by Deque Systems. It can be used to test web applications, browser extensions, and mobile apps. Axe offers a variety of integrations, including browser extensions, command-line tools, and integrations with popular software testing frameworks like Selenium and Cypress. It provides detailed reports on accessibility violations, along with explanations and suggestions for fixing them.

Lighthouse: Lighthouse is an open-source tool developed by Google that audits web pages for performance, accessibility, progressive web app compliance, and more. It provides a comprehensive report with scores and recommendations for improving each aspect of your web application. Lighthouse can be run as a Chrome extension or from the command line.

Pa11y: Pa11y is a command-line tool that can be integrated into your continuous integration and deployment pipelines. It runs accessibility tests on web pages and provides detailed reports on any issues found. Pa11y supports a wide range of accessibility standards, including WCAG 2.0 and Section 508.

ANDI (Accessible Name & Description Inspector): ANDI is a free web accessibility testing tool developed by the Level Access team. It helps you identify and resolve issues related to accessible names and descriptions for user interface elements. ANDI provides a visual overlay on web pages, highlighting elements with issues and offering suggestions for improvement.

WebAIM Color Contrast Checker: The WebAIM Color Contrast Checker is a simple yet powerful tool for checking the color contrast between text and background colors. It helps ensure that your web application meets the WCAG 2.0 color contrast guidelines, which are essential for users with low vision or color blindness.

Microsoft Accessibility Insights: Microsoft Accessibility Insights is a comprehensive suite of tools for testing web, Windows, Android, and iOS applications. It includes a browser extension, a desktop application, and command-line tools. Accessibility Insights provides detailed reports on accessibility issues, along with guidance on how to resolve them.

NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access): NVDA is a free and open-source screen reader for Windows. As a QA engineer, you can use NVDA to experience your web application from the perspective of a user with visual impairments. This hands-on testing approach can help you identify accessibility issues that automated tools might miss.

VoiceOver (for macOS and iOS): VoiceOver is the built-in screen reader for Apple devices, including macOS and iOS. Similar to NVDA, you can use VoiceOver to manually test your web applications and ensure that they are accessible to users with visual impairments.

Tota11y: Tota11y is a free and open-source accessibility visualization toolkit developed by Khan Academy. It provides a visual overlay on web pages, highlighting various accessibility issues and offering explanations and suggestions for improvement. Tota11y is available as a bookmarklet, making it easy to use on any web page.

These are just a few of the many web accessibility testing tools available to QA engineers. It’s important to note that while these tools are incredibly useful, they should not be relied upon solely. Manual testing by users with disabilities, as well as compliance with accessibility guidelines and standards, is essential for ensuring that your web applications are truly accessible.

As a QA engineer, it’s your responsibility to advocate for web accessibility and continuously educate yourself and your team on best practices. By incorporating these tools into your testing process and prioritizing accessibility, you can create inclusive web experiences that benefit everyone.

Remember, accessibility is not just a checkbox to be ticked off – it’s an ongoing commitment to creating a more equitable and inclusive digital world.