There is a lot of information out there about accessibility, and we use a selection of tools and resources in our accessibility work at Oklahoma ABLE Tech. There is no reason we shouldn't share some of our favorites. Please use these to help as you create more accessible information technology products.
Testing Web Pages
Accessibility testing should be done throughout a website or web application's design process. There are several great tools to help you to organize and implement a thorough, but not resource-crushing, testing process. Below are some of our favorite resources to help you along the way.
- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Accessibility Evaluation Resources page is full of information. From running through a high-level review of accessibility to doing very detailed accessibility evaluations, you'll find a lot of great information and resources.
- WebAIM's WCAG 2 checklist is a very good place to start your evaluation process. As they say on their page, testing with this checklist doesn't ensure that you're fully in line with the WCAG standards, but it is a great set of checks to help you catch everything that WCAG covers.
- WebAIM's Section 508 checklist is very similar to the WCAG checklist, but it references the standards from Section 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act.
Toolbars run directly from your browser. They let you perform accessibility testing and evaluation on any web page that you bring up, even pages that you have to log into. Like any automated tool, they won't catch everything. But they are a key part of our testing process.
Toolbars For Firefox
- The Juicy Studio Accessibility Toolbar has tools that help to evaluate ARIA, tables and color. The Colour Contrast Analyser built into this tool looks at colors defined in your CSS and shows you what does and does not meet the mark for color contrast.
- Jim Thatcher’s Favelets require you to install them in the browser, but they give you easy visibility of headings, tables, ARIA regions, and tabindex values.
Toolbars for Internet Explorer
- The Paciello Web Accessibility Toolbar combines some of the tools above with a load of tools that The Paciello Group designed. A really valuable resource.
- Jim Thatcher’s Favelets also run on Internet Explorer.
- WAVE for Chrome is an excellent tool that shows you errors and warnings in the browser.
- Accessibility Developer Tools from Google has lots of good tools.
- The Color Contrast Analyzer for Chrome was developed by Greg Krauss at North Carolina State University. It gives you a great view of how the colors on your page work together.
Toolbars aren't the only way to go when it comes to checking web pages for accessibility. There are a lot of different tools that run from websites, too.
- The WAVE website will check anything that you don’t have to log in to, other than documents.
- WebAIM's Color Contrast Checker lets you enter the hex values of colors and tells you instantly whether the two colors contrast well enough with one another.
There are a few tools that you can download and run directly from your computer. They can be very helpful.
- The Colour Contrast Analyser from The Paciello Group lets you select your text (foreground) and background colors and tells you if they contrast well enough with one another. You can use this on anything on your screen, which makes it a great tool for testing contrast in documents.
- The Paciello Group's aViewer exposes the accessibility API that assistive technology sees. A really great tool.
There are a couple of websites that show the differences, both in presentation and in structure, between accessible and inaccessible web pages. Use these to practice your website accessibility testing and experiment with different tools.
- Before and After Accessible University demo sites show the same site. The Before site is not accessible and the After site is.
- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Before and After Demo (BAD). Again, a great way to practice your testing methods and play with tools.
Social Media Accessibility
We use social media more and more to communicate with our consumers. It is vital that we make sure that we account for accessibility in our social media, just like we do in the rest of our technology.
- Social Media and Government Toolkit
- Twitter Social Media Accessibility
- Facebook Social Media Accessibility
Resources for Documents
- These document accessibility cheat sheets from out Web Accessibility in Higher Education partners at the National Center on Disability and Access to Education are just fantastic. They're one page each, filled with concise information. Share these with anyone that creates documents.
- WebAIM's website has great, in-depth information on creating accessible Word, PDF, and PowerPoint files.
- Microsoft Accessibility
- Adobe has resources on PDF accessibility.
Testing web sites and applications using assistive technologies offers you a lot of benefits. You get to learn some of the tools that people with disabilities use to use technology, which is incredibly informative. You also get better insight into the true, functional accessibility of the site or application.
Speech Recognition Technology
Speech recognition tools help people with print disabilities, people with mobility disabilities, and people that otherwise don't want to or need to use a keyboard to control their computers with the sound of their voice. Operating systems have more speech recognition technology built into them now than they used to, but third-party tools have become less expensive and more capable over time.
- Dragon Naturally Speaking is available for PC and Mac. It's latest version offers support for ARIA on the web!
Screen Reading Technology
Screen reading software takes text on the screen and puts it out audibly. Screen readers read what's on the screen, but they also read markup and indicate things like the presence of images, form fields, and form controls (if those are all accessible, of course).
- Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) is free to use for the PC, though a donation is suggested since they fund their development entirely through donations.
- JAWS for Windows is the most popular screen reader for the Windows market. It is not inexpensive, though.
- VoiceOver for the Mac is built into the operating system of both mobile and desktop/laptop Apple devices. It is an incredibly powerful screen reader, built right in.
Screen Magnification Software
People with some forms of low vision often use screen magnification softare to help them to read what is on the screen. Mac and PC operating systems and browsers have basic screen magnification built in, but the third party tools let you do more.