12 Tools To Check Your Site’s Accessibility

When you design any web site, one of your first goals is to make sure you get as many visitors as you can, but have you checked the true accessibility of your site? Can a color blind person read it? Are all of your scripts cooperating? Your colors may look nice together, but is the contrast different enough that it is all legible?  Well, those questions are exactly what these 12 tools are designed to help you answer, and it certainly may never be a bad idea to run more than one to make sure they are all telling you the same thing.

One caveat to this list, while these tools are helpful and will help you spot some problems, never trust them to be the ultimate authority, but more of a starting point on your road to the smoothest running site you can build.

ACTF aDesigner: An extension for the open source Eclipse development platform, it is built specifically to test for the accessibility of the visually impaired.  Unfortunately, it’s only available for those running Windows XP and above.

eclipse valid

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 accessibility: For designers who use Adobe’s Dreamweaver CS4, you’ll find a validation tool built right in that allows you to choose what to test at any time and get a full report on any errors that it may find.

dreamweaver validation

Contrast Analyser: Not only is it difficult to choose which colors you want to use with a site, but then you have to make sure they work together when it comes to readability.  Colour Contrast Analyser will let you know the difference between two colors, and it can also be set to help you determine if people with visual impairments, such as color blindness, will be able to read it.

colour contrast analyser

Cynthia Says: Cynthia Says is a product from HiSoftware that allows you to enter your web site address in to the sight and get a report on how it complies with Section 508 and WCAG-Priority 1, 2 and 3.

cynthia says

Firefox Accessibility Extension: Created by the Illinois Center for Information Technology and Web Accessibility (iCITA), this Firefox toolbar includes a large suite of tools to test numerous aspects of your site for accessibility by those with disabilities.  Includes testing for text, scripting, styles and a whole lot more.

firefox accessibility

Functional Accessibility Evaluator: The Functional Accessibility Evaluator gives you a report on many aspects of your site and then gives you a color coded results page with a nice overview of everything you need to know.  If you want more information you simply need to click on the category to see the detailed comments.

faes

Fujitsu Web Accessibility Inspector: The Fujitsu Web Accessibility Inspector focuses on checking the build of your page as it may appear to elderly and visually disabled people.  The software has to be downloaded to your system, Max OS X or Windows, and then you can point it to a local file or a web site and it will then generate a report that is almost too long, noting every aspect of your file.  When we attempted a full screenshot it came out to over 924 MB in size, so it is a bit lengthy.

fujitsuwebs

IBM’s Rational Policy Tester Accessibility Edition: A Windows-only solution for testing your site for accessibility by those with disabilities.  This is a paid solution and there was no easy link to the cost, but it is likely not cheap with the IBM brand name attached to it.

ibm rational

Truwex Online 2.0: The Truwex Online 2.0 tool checks a range of accessibility options such as section 508, WCAG levels, privacy, broken links and so on.  Simply go to the page, enter your URL, check the boxes for the items you want checked and it generates reports shortly after that.

truwex

Vision Australia: Vision Australia is a coalition of people working to make sure people with all forms of vision problems have equal access to life as anyone else.  They offer two toolbars for Internet Explorer and Opera to test how your site will work for someone with impaired vision.

vision australia

WAVE: WAVE is produced by WebAIM which is dedicated to making sure sites are accessible in as many languages as possible.  Simple enter the address of the site, upload a file or enter a code snippet and see all of the elements identified. Plus, you receive feedback on the placement and identification of each element.  There is also an option for using a Firefox toolbar or installing WAVE in browsers and web pages.

wave

Web Accessibility Toolbar For Opera: A method for quick access for Opera users to some of the most used web accessibility tools from the Paciello Group.  Not all items will be functional while you are offline as they need to access scripts and tools located on the WAT-C servers, but if you have Internet access you’ll have everything at your fingertips.

wat for opera

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  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk TomBradshaw

    Thanks for these, I’ll try some of them out. It’s important to check every site you do is as accessable as possible.

  • http://www.justinmarch.com/ JustinMarch

    What a great list, very useful…

  • Shahriat Hossain

    Nice lists of site accessibility , really helpful those all and thanks for sharing your knowledge by this post.

  • jose pacheco

    you also FAE at http://www.selfseo.com/website_speed_test.php

    im preparing also one post about Accessibility tools :D i guess in this month will be released… must be done with time! ROFL

  • http://www.theaccessibility.com AquinasWI

    Nice list of accessibility tools. In particular, I find the Firefox Accessibility plug-in useful. Actually, the WebDeveloper plug-in has a lot of the same functions too. I use that more than anything.

    Automated tools are indeed a good piece to accessibility testing, though just a piece. Manual spot-checking or, ideally, usability studies, are indispensable.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • craigmcn

    Great article! I sometimes spend hours verifying accessibility on my websites. These tools should certainly reduce the time it takes!

  • Mike Paciello, TPG

    Please note that the Web Accessibility toolbar is also available for IE (http://www.paciellogroup.com/resources/wat-ie-about.html). And we are about to release a new version for FireFox.

  • Deaf Web Professional

    It’s a nice article.. However, there’s an important segment that is ignored – 32 millions of deaf and hard of hearing Americans, including myself. With those increasing videos without captions and podcasts without transcripts, they are not accessible for us and leave us frustrated. Also, they are hard to understand for those whose English isn’t first language – that’s a pretty significant number of users, too. Not to mention other users who can’t access audio information in a noisy environment or mute the sound to make it quiet. According to some studies, over 100 million Americans (over 1/3 of US population) need that kind of accessibility. That’s something to think about.

  • Yael K. Miller

    Color Scheme Designer allows you to see what colors look like for different kinds of color-blindness under “Visual Simulation” which is in the nav bar — top right.

  • http://www.tyssendesign.com.au Tyssen

    A couple of other useful ones are the Juicy Studio Accessibility Toolbar and Total Validator extensions for Firefox.

  • Wes Dillon from Deque

    I wanted to offer another tool for the community’s use – Here is the link to the free version of Worldspace, our enterprise-level compliance tool. It is the tool named in the settlement between the National Federation of the Blind and Target.com to monitor Target.com http://nfbtargetlawsuit.com/final_settlement.html

    http://worldspace.deque.com/

    It offers the capability to scan a URL, local file or source code against Section 508 or the three levels of WCAG.

    We will be continually adding new features which we will post on this page.

    Also, our Director of solutions has posted on his blog how you can get a plug-in for your Google toolbar or Firefox browser.: http://dmusser.blogspot.com/2008/09/creation-of-google-toolbar-button-for.html

    If helpful for any of your accessibility needs, we’d love to hear about it – http://www.deque.com

    • http://www.thewebsurgery.com/ Grant Brookes

      Wes, I haven’t checked the tool yet, but what exactly it is? it is only for the users who are Blind? or does it cater to color blinds also?

      I have been using the feature in Dreamweaver and it is quite good, but i dont mind trying any other tool too…

  • Rodrigo
  • http://blog.rbenson.info rguy84

    Glad I skimmed the comments, but the one Tysson listed is a pretty big one, I was shocked not to see it.

  • alanc

    Thanks for an informative post.

    I knew of the old aDesigner from IBM’s Alphaworks, but I hadn’t noticed it’s migration to the Eclipse ACTF project.

    I hadn’t heard of the freeware Fujitsu tools, before, either. Will have to check it out.

  • http://forum.zarenkriege.de/index.php?showuser=107858 Usenet Trial

    Great idea, but will this work over the long run?

  • Anonymous