My Accessibility Toolkit

Oct 17, 2014

A look at some of the tools I use when performing accessibility checks.

For the past couple of days I have been working on an accessibility report for a new Europeana website.

While reviewing, I used the WCAG 2.0 checklist for the basis, and the results led me to categorise the issues into three different areas:

  • Style - Colour contrast issues, missing focus states.
  • Development - Broken tab orders and tabindex issues, missing <label>'s on forms.
  • Editorial - Confusing language, poor <alt> text.

To find these issues I used a number of tools.

WAVE

WAVE the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool is a tool that I recommend to use to get a semi-automated evaluation of the page that you are testing.

You can see errors, alerts, and other information that you may find useful. You can view the page with styling showing or styling removed, and you can also check the colour contrast here; although I tend to do that elsewhere.

WAVE
WAVE report of this website

WAVE is also available as a browser plugin, it has been available for Firefox for a while, but as of Wednesday it is now in Beta for Google Chrome.

ChromeVox

ChromeVox is a great free screen reader that is useful for those without access to more powerful tools. Those who have access to JAWS and NVDA are in a better position to write a more comprehensive report, as out in the wild (from what I understand) ChromeVox has limited use, in a survey back in 2013 4 out of 1782 respondents used ChromeVox as their screen reader.

Financial constraints do come into play, which is why I think ChromeVox is still a good tool for evaluators or developers.

It is a tool that needs practice to perfect, and this Keyboard shortcuts reference chart is invaluable.

Checkmycolours & Contrast-A

I used to use Jonathan Snook’s Colour Contrast Check as my go-to, but that has been replaced by Contrast-A, to quickly test individual foreground and background colours.

Contrast-A not only compares the colours against the WCAG guidelines, but it also tests for various colour deficiencies.

Contrast-A
Contrast-A showing grey on grey doesn't quite work

The Readability Test Tool

The Readability Test Tool provides an easy way to test the readability of a page on your website, it allows you to see how difficult it may be to read it as compared to a number of readability indicators, such as the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease, Gunning Fog Score, and Coleman Liau Index.

I like to use the Flesch Kincaid test myself, as it is good to see whether you are writing more for Readers Digest or the Harvard Law Review.

The Readability Test Tool
About as readable as Time magazine (at least on the Flesch Kincaid score)

Are there any tools that you like to use?