There are many tools that can assist you in checking the accessibility of your website however none can substitute for a thorough manual check. At most an automated tool can check for correctness of about 25 percent of the WCAG 2.0 AA Guidelines. What it cannot check are items that require human judgement such as alt text meaning or purpose or heading meaningfulness. The following tools are to be considered helpful. A manual check using the MSU Evaluation Protocol for WCAG 2.0 AA or similar is recommended for completeness. MSU's Protocol process will specifically direct you to use some of the suggested tools.
The WebAIM WAVE tool is a common accessibility evaluation tool. It allows a user to either enter or paste in a public web address that they would like reviewed or click a button if added as a browser extension. It produces a summary of errors, contrast errors, alerts, features, structural elements, and ARIA. It then allows the user to view specific details of the report that will point them to areas of the page in which they are referencing.
In addition to compiling a report of errors and alerts it also provides references to the user on what the error means, why it is important, short guidelines on how to fix and links to the WCAG 2.0 standard in which it violates.
The tool is automated which means that necessary and important accessibility checks will be missed. The tool should be used in combination with a manual evaluation. It is also important to mention that the tool can only scan one page at a time and assumes small text for contrast checking purposes.
Various color contrast checking tools, including WebAIM WAVE above, that "check the whole page" fail to check hover, visited, focus, error and other non-default page content contrasts so you will always need to use something such as the Paciello Group Colour Contrast Analyser to check individual color pairs. For more information on using this tool (or other color contrast tools) see the Colour Contrast Analyser Tutorial.
A screen reader allows users to interact with documents and webpages through text to speech output. Screen readers are an important tool when it comes to evaluating the current state of accessibility for a webpage. Although there are many types of screen readers, we will be highlighting the two most popular. It is recommended that you use multiple screen readers when conducting testing to get a more holistic view of the state of accessibility. It is also important to test screen readers across different browsers since they can interact differently in other environments.
NVDA is a free screen reader that has been growing in popularity, in 2019 NVDA surpassed JAWS as the most popular screen reader.
NVDA is free to download and relatively easy to use. It supports 20 different languages and can be downloaded or run through a USB drive without installation.
JAWS, much like NVDA, is a very popular screen reader. It allows for text to speech output as well as Braille output. Although it is popular, it is costly. However, you can access the tool on your personal device for free through MSU’s campus license. To get started, visit portal.freedomscientific.com and use your MSU email address to create a portal account. Once you have created an account, you will have the ability to download JAWS to your computer.
When performing accessibility evaluations using these tools the goal is to make sure there are no errors.
The W3C HTML validator allows users to run each page and check the validity of its contents. It provides users with both error and warning messages. It gives locations of where the errors or warnings are within the code.
The W3C CSS Validator works just like the HTML validator except it is checking for CSS errors.