How to Test Accessibility with Android TalkBack

Get Started

Testing mobile accessibility is an essential step in reviewing your content. TalkBack is a screen reader built into Android devices that reads aloud page content and relevant semantic info. Use the following guidance to get started testing with TalkBack, and to get a more comprehensive picture of accessibility.

Turn on TalkBack

Go to Settings > Accessibility > TalkBack > Use Service

There is a toggle to turn TalkBack on/off at the top of the TalkBack menu. When you turn TalkBack on the gestures that you use to navigate your phone will change.

Read more about options for turning on/off TalkBack, including how to setup shortcuts to access

talkback icon.

Orient to TalkBack

Change How Fast TalkBack Talks

Go to Settings > Accessibility > TalkBack> Settings > Text-to-Speech Settings > Speech rate

Choosing a slower speaking rate can help with comprehension as you listen during testing.

Try TalkBack Practice

Android phones have a tutorial mode where you can practice using the different gestures needed to use TalkBack.

Turn on TalkBack.  Then Go to Settings > Accessibility > TalkBack> Settings > Tutorial and help

Follow the instruction provided in the practice mode.

Basic Testing Gestures

  • Use swipe gestures to move forward or backward through all page elements.
  • Screen reader should announce each element and relevant text on the page.
  • Double tap to activate links or buttons

LEFT
Hand icon with arrow pointing left.

to move backward

RIGHT
Hand icon with arrow pointing right.

to move forward

Track Any Issues Found

Accessibility Issues Tracker Template

The Accessibility Issues Tracker spreadsheet is a framework for capturing accessibility issues on a website and providing the information needed to remediate them. Start by recording results from Siteimprove or other automated tools in this spreadsheet. Then, as you manually test your site with the keyboard, screen reader, and content review, add any issues to the sheet. Collecting all issues in one place may help identify patterns based on sorting by different columns. Additionally, each row in the spreadsheet (representing an issue) could be entered into a bug tracking system.

Now, Let's Test!

  • Is all the text accessible to the screen reader and read aloud?

  • Are elements read in a logical order that follows the visible page structure?

  • Do the names of items that you hear match the visual text? 

  • Can interactive elements (like links and forms) be activated and used?

  • Is any content being skipped that should be read?

  • Is any content being read that is visually hidden?

iphone with sound icon reading H2

Use the Menu to Test Specific Elements

Open the Reading Menu

  1. Turn on Talkback
  2. Navigate to your preferred browser (Chrome/Firefox/etc).
  3. Swipe down and then back up without lifting your finger (like drawing a lowcase "l") to open the reading menu.
  4. The element option currently selected will be read aloud and displayed on screen.
  5. To select a different option (headings, paragraphs, controls, links), swipe down and then up without lifting your finger.

Set Menu Options

Go to Settings > Accessibility > TalkBack> Settings > Customize Menus

Select “Customize Reading Controls" to show a list of elements that may be included in the menu. Make sure the elements you plan to test are all selected. We recommend selecting: “Headings”, “Links”, “Landmarks” and “Controls”.

Gestures to Navigate by Element

  • Use swipe gestures to move forward or backward through your chosen page element.
  • The screen reader should announce each element and relevant text on the page.
  • Double tap to activate links or buttons

UP

Hand icon with arrow pointing up.
 move to previous instance

DOWN

Hand icon with arrow pointing down.

 move to next instance

Now, Let's Test!

  1. Choose the element type.
  2. Use up or down swipe gestures to move forward and backward through that particular element type

  3. Double tap to activate links or buttons

The screen reader should announce all the elements of the selected type present on the page and their relevant text.

Talkback phone screen with headings displayed.