This is the first in a series of blog posts about mobile accessibility testing for mobile phones and tablets.
When testing for mobile accessibility use the devices and OS that will be supported by the website or application and that have decent accessibility support. Most of the time, this is includes iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android (phones mostly, and some tablets) which are the most common mobile devices used today in the United States.
The assistive technology is built in to the operating system for these devices. It has to be configured properly for use by people with disabilities and for those who are testing for accessibility. Some free applications have also been developed to augment the native assistive technology. This post is about the basic setup required for these tools.
What mobile devices should be used for accessibility testing?
When selecting a device to use for mobile accessibility testing, select one that allows you to have the latest operating system. For testing, you may want to buy an unlocked device and use WIFI. These devices will allow you to have the latest version of the operating system without having to wait for the cellular provider to roll out the updates.
Recommended devices include:
- Apple: iPhone (4 or 5) and iPad (iPad, iPad2 or iPad Mini)
- Android Phone: Samsung Galaxy Nexus or Samsung Galaxy SIII
- Android Tablet: Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Nexus 10 or Nexus 7 tablet
What versions of the operating systems provide accessibility support?
Mobile is rapidly changing. New versions of the operating systems are rolled out frequently. For mobile accessibility testing, we recommend testing in the latest two versions of the OS.
Operating system versions that support accessibility include:
- Apple: iOS 3+ (the latest version iOS 6 has the most accessibility features available)
- Android: 4.0.X IceCream Sandwich or 4.1.2 / 4.2 Jelly Bean (see current distribution of Android OS versions and read more about enhanced Android accessibility on version 4.1.2)
What input devices will work with mobile?
Testing mobile involves gestures, stylus, on-screen keyboards and bluetooth keyboards. Some other alternative input devices such as braille and jelly bean switches work with mobile.
- iPhone: Bluetooth mobile keyboard
- iPad: Bluetooth keyboard
- Android: Eyes-Free Keyboard (required for mobile website testing in Android 4.0.X), bluetooth keyboard
How to set up Eyes-Free Keyboard
- Search for Eyes-Free Keyboard in the Google Play store.
- Download and open the application
- It will prompt you to set the accessibility settings – and will take you there (this is the Settings > Accessibility menu)
- Activate Talkback
- Activate Explore by Touch
- Activate Enhance Web Accessibility (Android 4.2) or Install Web Scripts (Android 4.0)
- Under Settings > Language and Input, select Eyes Free as the keyboard to use and deselect any others.
- Launch Eyes-Free Keyboard. It might prompt you again for an input device.Select Eyes Free. It should also ask if you want to run the short tutorial. Try it!
What browsers should be installed and used for testing?
Mobile has infinitely more browsers and applications than desktop. The combinations would be endless if you take into consideration all of the different OS and browser combinations.
Recommended browsers for testing:
- iOS: Safari
- Android: Firefox, Chrome (and test with the Android browser only if pre-installed)