Future Media Standards & Guidelines

Screen reader testing guidelines v2.0

This is the assistive testing (currently only screen readers) guide from the UX&D Accessibility team. This should inform your baseline testing. Your actual testing requirements should be based on usage statistics as with any other browser testing.

Overview

As with normal browser testing guidelines it is possible to provide general rules for which browsers to test with which screen readers. Because screen readers and other assistive technologies work in combination with browsers it is important to restrict the number of versions that are used during routine testing so that this does not take undue resources. Therefore for browsers and assistive technologies with good and practical upgrade paths the latest versions are sufficient testing. For browsers and assistive technologies with more problematic upgrade paths, for example due to ties to a particular operating system or expense, then a broader range must be considered, but should still be as few in number as possible.

For responsive sites, if differing screen sizes exposes different features you should test on sufficient variety of devices to expose all features.

JAWS

Test latest and latest -1 versions of JAWS with the latest version of Firefox, the latest version of Internet Explorer, Internet Explorer 8, and Internet Explorer 9.

Rationale

JAWS is expensive software and therefore has many users with older versions. Testing the latest and latest -1 versions provides reasonable coverage. It is also the most widely corporately supported screen reader which ensures it remains popular despite its price tag.

JAWS works best with Internet Explorer and Firefox so the majority of JAWS users will use one of these two browsers. If you have the capacity add the latest version of Google Chrome to the list for both versions of JAWS.

Windows XP, which continues to have a large market share despite Microsoft ending support for it, can only install up to Internet Explorer 8. Similarly, Windows Vista can only install up to Internet Explorer 9.

NVDA

Test latest version of NVDA with the latest version of Firefox, the latest version of Internet Explorer, Internet Explorer 8, and Internet Explorer 9.

Rationale

NVDA is free software, therefore it is reasonable to expect users to upgrade regularly. If you have spare capacity test with latest and latest -1 versions.

NVDA works best with Internet Explorer and Firefox so the majority of NVDA users will use one of these two browsers. If you have the capacity add the latest version of Google Chrome to the list.

Windows XP, which continues to have a large market share despite Microsoft ending support for it, can only install up to Internet Explorer 8. Similarly, Windows Vista can only install up to Internet Explorer 9.

VoiceOver OSX

Test VoiceOver on the latest version of OSX with Safari and Firefox and with latest and latest -1 version of Firefox.

Rationale

VoiceOver is bundled with OSX and works best with Safari and Firefox so the majority of VoiceOver users will use one of these two browsers.

OSX 10.9 (Mavericks) is a free upgrade so it is reasonable to expect users to have an up to date version. If you have spare capacity test in OSX 10.8 (Mountain Lion).

If you don't have a machine with the latest version of OSX installed then it is acceptable to test with the latest version available to you.

VoiceOver iOS

Test VoiceOver on iPhone, iPad / iPad Mini, or iPod with the latest version of iOS / Safari. If differing screen sizes exposes different features you should test on sufficient variety of devices to expose all features.

Rationale

VoiceOver is bundled with iOS and works best with Safari.

iOS7 is a free upgrade available on iPhone 4 onwards, iPod Touch 5th generation, iPad 2 onwards, and iPad Mini 1st generation onwards so it is reasonable to expect users to have an up to date version. If you have spare capacity test on a device with iOS 6.

Talkback

Test TalkBack on Android phones and tablets with the latest versions of the OS and with the latest Chrome and Firefox browsers.

Rationale

TalkBack is bundled with Android since version 4. While browsing web content can freeze due to a lack of a keyboard on touch devices it is possible to install the Eyes-Free Keyboard to enable navigation within a web view.

Firefox on Android has as good TalkBack support as the default Chrome browser on Android 4+ and should be included where possible.


Using the standards and guidelines

You can use use and re-use the the BBC Accessibility Standards and Guidelines under an Open Government Licence for Public Sector Information.

Details can be found on the Open Government Licence for Public Sector Information website.

Feedback

We would love to hear your feedback. If you have a question or comment about the standards or guidelines email us at AccessibilityTeam@bbc.co.uk.

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