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December 17, 2020

Content Validation and Accessibility Testing

Content validation is a type of static testing that ensures the quality and accuracy of your content. It includes validating the data present in a document, web page or email against the data present in an application, file, or database.


Accessibility testing is the practice of making web and mobile apps usable by as many people as possible. This includes making content accessible to those with disabilities like vision impairment, hearing disabilities, and other physical or cognitive conditions.


There are 285 million visually impaired people across the globe, of whom 39 million are blind. The impairments include color blindness, total blindness, cataract, blur vision etc. There are 466 million people in the world with disabling hearing loss. (*Source: World Health Organization). The other factor which should be kept in mind is the mental health and intellectual spectrum as the content should be accessible to all humans with varying processing capability.


Since a lot of content is conveyed in the form of documents, we need to ensure that the content curated in a document is validated and accessible. We cannot eliminate the errors, but we can reduce them by implementing some content validation techniques.


In this blog, we have covered requirements, challenges and key focus areas for validation and accessibility of content for PDF, Word, Email, web format and mobile channels.


Content Validation

PDF Content Validation

In current scenario, there is a huge dependency on PDF as an end user deliverable. PDF is a file format used to present and exchange information in an offline mode and is designed for human readers and not for machine processing. Hence, automating the content testing of PDF is a challenge. In order to validate, business entities need to be extracted from a PDF file and compared against the target.

Challenges:

  • Predefining the structure of a PDF according to continuously varying business demand
  • Lack of automation in the content validation resulting in manual content validation for large number of documents
  • Difficulty in extracting the data from image-based documents
  • Identifying business entities from image-based documents


PDF Validation Workflow:


Word Content Validation

Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing document in the world. We may need to verify, store or perform some validations on the data of a word file. A correctly spelled but invalid value can make a document unusable. We can use macros, scripting, etc. to validate the data to some extent.


Challenge:

  • To identify the co-related data as well as the business entities for textual data validation in a word document


Email Content Validation

Just like any other content validation, email content validation is very important part of testing as we handle important official data through email. Verification of email is critical to avoid any miscommunication.


Checkpoints to be considered for email validation:

  • Testing of unknown errors related to HTTP error codes or some non-working or broken links present in the email
  • Missing images due to script related issues
  • Spell checks, web standard checks, etc
  • Correct navigation, easy to read and understand paragraphs. Page loading should be validated and carefully tested by different performance checks.
  • Copyright & Trademark symbols should be carefully placed and checked
  • Testing the subject of email is very important
  • Checking template and basic designing of email as it is the major attraction of email


Challenge:

  • Manual testing for email content validation


Web Content Validation

Web Content Validation includes extracting data from webpages and validating it against some targets like a database or a file. It can also be a webpage to webpage comparison which comes up during website migrations. QA teams work on comparing and verifying the data against old website, find broken links, static content, dynamic content, images, videos etc.

With the usage of latest content management solution for building website and mobile app, enterprises are looking forward to providing a good digital experience to customers via the front end while managing the marketing content and digital assets on the backend.


Challenge:

  • Managing the content across online mediums and simultaneously syncing well with the in-store mediums is a challenge


Content Accessibility

PDF Accessibility

Portable document format is the most used format across the world, it should be made sure that the document is accessible by people who are blind, have low vision, deaf, or with impaired hearing or have any other cognitive impairments.

To make the document accessible for people who rely on assistive technologies, the content should be structured and tagged properly.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and PDF/UA are common accessibility standards. PDF/A is an ISO-standardized version of the portable document Format (PDF) specialized for use in the archiving and long-term preservation of electronic documents.


Challenges:

  • PDF readers available in market do provide option to check accessibility of the document but user must opt for their pro version to use it.
  • The other challenge is the batch processing of documents. A tool which can process multiple documents simultaneously is required.

Word Accessibility

Microsoft Word, just like the entire Microsoft Office Suite, provides a built-in Accessibility Checker tool that helps identify potential accessibility concerns. The Accessibility Checker task pane will show:

  1. Accessibility Errors
  2. Warnings
  3. Tips to repair the errors

Additional information for specific issues is available at bottom of the task pane.


Challenge:

The Accessibility Checker tool does not guarantee a fully accessible document or comprehensive usability of the workbook for individuals with disabilities. Some documents might present accessibility challenges that need to be addressed manually.


Email Accessibility

Email campaigns holds great value in today's time. How impactful can an email campaign be if it can't be read and understood by people with disabilities?

Emails should be designed keeping best practices in mind like:

  • It should support screen-reading devices
  • It should have alternate text for images which screen reader or voice assistance can dictate
  • Visual content should be checked for color blindness
  • It should be accessible on mobile and IOT devices

Web Accessibility

Web accessibility means the content present on web in form of websites, available tools, technologies should be designed and developed so that it facilitates people with disabilities to access them. People should be able to perceive, understand, navigate and interact and contribute to the web.

Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including:

  • Audio
  • Cognitive
  • Neurological
  • Physical
  • Speech
  • Visual

Web content accessibility guideline 2.0 is based on four principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. It is further differentiated into 3 levels:

Level A - Most basic web accessibility features

Level AA - Deals with biggest and most common barriers for disabled users

Level AAA - It is highest and most complex level of web accessibility

Challenges faced:

  • To make the content accessible for wider section of audience
  • To check the conformance of accessibility standards
  • To get repair recommendations for the content and insights on the same


Content on Mobile device

With the heavy content consumption these days on mobile device and increased usage of smart IOT devices, it has become mandatory to make the content accessible. Also, there is a need of making the content uniform across devices - laptop, desktop, smartphone, tablet, smart watch etc.


Some of the pre-requisites for improving the mobile accessibility include:

  1. Responsive design - Content should fit the layout of the mobile and adjust according to the screen orientation of device
  2. Transcript - Alternative text for pictorial content

  3. User Input - Making it easier for user to interact with the content and participate actively
  4. Aesthetics - Color contrast, visibility, font type and style, font color etc. should be customizable as per the user's need

  5. External device support - Now content should be designed and edited in such a way that any external device like screen reader or voice assistance can assist users with disabilities to access the content


Conclusion

Content Validation is a wide topic which spans multiple channels. Each area has its own set of challenges and automating the process of testing the content varies from one area to another. Natural language processing is one good selection while validating textual content.

The requirement for web content validation has increased because managing the content across online mediums and simultaneously syncing well with the in-store mediums has become a tough task. Instead of manually validating the content, automation can be expanded in the area of content validation as many areas of content validation testing are still being done manually by the testing team.

Technology should assist in interpreting the content, be it in tabular, image, audio or video format; it should be made accessible.

Managing content is the right thing to do. As an added advantage to any business, Content validation and accessibility will enhance the user experience and will bring in more customer, trust and credibility to the business.

 


Authors:

Deepak Ruchandani- Senior Associate Consultant

Divya Vettukattu Valappil- Technology Lead