Tools to Check Web Sites for Accessibility
1.2 2005-08-30

Accessibility to information for all is right, is important, and is achievable -- Harvey Bingham

Redundant Representation

A significant opportunity for inclusiveness in website design is to provide redundant information that provides alternative content. This includes text to describe images. This alternative representation helps those who depend upon text-to-speech, or text-to-braille; such as those using phone browsers, or those who cannot see.

Some accessibility problems are common to an entire site, such as any material providing common links that appears on all pages. Identifying any accessibility problems in these and fixing them has high benefit for all.

As an immediate high-payoff enhancement in web pages that are tagged using HTML, make sure that each image includes alt="brief desciption" of the image referenced by the URL. That brief description can be used for pop-overs to explain an image visually (should images be turned off or otherwise undisplayable), also by text-to-speech readers for phone browsers, by assistive technology, such as text-to-braille.

<img href="url" alt="brief description">

Accessibility Testing Tools

At least three tools are available to identify and explain accessibility problems. I suggest accessibility testing your site starting from your entrance URL, as it is likely to be the most commonly used. Then check other pages and apply the same techniques.

1. Wave
Wave 3.0 Web Accessibility Tool"
Methods of using the WAVE:
Method 1: Submit the URI of the page
Method 2: Upload a page
Method 3: Install WAVE toolbar in browser
Method 4: Add WAVE bookmarklet to browser
2. Bobby
Bobby exposes the generic accessibility problems, one URL at a time, with links to the somewhat technical references to justifications for the recommendations. You can purchase a downloadable version of Bobby for use on-site.
3. Cynthia Says
The HiSoftware Cynthia Says portal is a joint Education and Outreach project of ICDRI, The Internet Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter and HiSoftware. The goal of this service is to provide a free, well supported, accessibility validation tester for those who need to test a page and to expose them to the underlying technology and the benefits of using the technoology. You can get the desktop version.

Evaluation Tools

This list is provide by the World Wide Web -- Web Accessibility Initiative. The list there has three sub-categories:

  1. 29 General tools
  2. 25 Focused tools
  3.   2 Service tools

Repair Tools

Once the accessibility issues with a Web Page or site have been identified, the following identified fifteen tools can assist the author in making the pagers more accessible.

Filter and Transformation Tools

These eighteen tools modifiy a page or supplement an assistive technology or browser.

Other pages of interest

Another eight pages are identified.

Web Browsers Depend on Correct HTML

I encourage you to also validate the markup and links as well as make those pages accessible.

1. Tidy
Tidy verifies correctness of HTML on pages on your site. Download it from:
2. The W3C Markup Validator
This is a free service that checks documents like HTML and XHTML for conformance to W3C Recommendations and other standards:
3. Xenu Link Sleuth
This free tool performs an effective check of sites starting at the supplied URL, recursing through other URLs from that site.
Xenu's Link Sleuth (tm), by Tilman Hausherr.
4. The W3C Link Checker
This tool allows checking of links in a supplied address, and permits recursive checking to a specifiable recursion depth.
5. Visioln Australia
blindness and lovision services
Offers The Web Accessibility Toolbar has been developed to aid manual examination
of web pages for a variety of aspects of accessibility.
Harvey Bingham
Invited Expert, World Wide Web -- Web Accessibility Initiative
Accessibility consultant:

Level Triple-A conformance icon,
         W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0