7 Web Accessibility Testing Tools for Every Need

Two businessmen discussing computer project

By Erica Statly on Oct 16, 2018

Website accessibility compliance is no longer optional. Businesses large and small are increasingly involved in accessibility lawsuits due to a lack of web accessibility. To help protect your brand from lawsuits, we’ve put together a list of accessibility testing tools to make sure your website is fully accessible and adheres to common standards. These tools can test your site for common issues and determine if you are compliance with accessibility standards like WCAG 2.0, set by W3C, Section 508, the ADA, and more.

Web Accessibility Testing Tools for Every Need

The Importance of Website Accessibility

Website accessibility standards consider auditory, cognitive, physical, speech, and visual needs when assessing websites. Additionally, websites must be accessible under all types of circumstances, including different users, environments, and conditions. Often, improving website accessibility also makes your website more useable for the following people and in the following situations:

  • Mobile devices
  • The elderly
  • Broken arms
  • Poor vision
  • Bright sunlight
  • Quiet rooms
  • Slow internet connection
  • Limited bandwidth

For those approaching web accessibility for the first time, it can seem a bit overwhelming. However, web accessibility testing tools have been created to help. Website accessibility testing is the step-by-step process of checking whether or not a website or mobile application is completely accessible for all users. There are both automated and manual testing options. This post will explore tools that can automate the process for you.

Find and solve accessibility issues with your site, step-by-step: Download the Ultimate Website Accessibility Checklist

Tool #1: Color Contrast

In order to make your website useable for those with colorblindness or poor vision, you must have a certain contrast between colors across your website. If an individual can’t distinguish the background from the foreground, the content is considered illegible and therefore not accessible.

Accessible Colors allows you to input the HEX code, size and weight of your text color, HEX code of your background color and the standard your website is required to comply with. It will then alert you to whether you are passing or failing for that particular standard, so you can make changes accordingly.

Another tool for this is Colour Contrast Check, which has you input the HEX codes for your foreground and background color and will give you results based on:

  • Brightness difference
  • Color difference
  • Contrast ratio
  • WCAG 2 AA Compliant
  • WCAG 2 AA Compliant (18pt+)
  • WCAG 2 AAA Compliant
  • WCAG 2 AAA Compliant (18pt+)

Tool #2: Flashing

If there is any flashing or flickering effects included on your website, it could trigger seizures from users on your site. That is a direct violation of website accessibility standards. To keep this in check, use tools like this Photosensitive Epilepsy Analysis Tool.

Tool #3: Alt-text

Alt-text describes images on a screen with text. So for the visually impaired who need screen readers to use a website, the screen reader registers the alt-text in place of the image. Without alt-text for all non-text elements on the page, your website could be subject to an accessible lawsuit.

Accessible Metrics will test your site for alt-text, among other accessibility concerns, and provide a full site report. Full site testing is not yet available to all users, however it is available through private beta.

The WAVE Chrome extension can test for alt text. You can evaluate your website accessibility standing right from your browser. No information will be sent to the WAVE server, guaranteeing you complete privacy.

Tool #4: Usability

Those who are disabled must be able to use your website easily. An easier way to think about usability is as the “user experience.” Usability refers to how your website functions as a user is trying to navigate through it. There cannot be any barriers in terms of usability for those with disabilities.

This can include obstacles like forms without labels, which prevents screen readers from reading forms to blind or low-vision users. It can also include navigation buttons that are not accessible through a keyboard or assistive devices, such as menus that activate on hover only, and not on click or focus.

Since usability has to do with comprehension and function, some of these obstacles cannot be automatically determined, and they require manual testing. However, some accessibility testing tools can test for a variety of usability issues. PowerMapper SiteCheck Usability Test, for example, checks your website usability against US Federal Usability, W3C Guidelines and Wikipedia accessibility guidelines.

Tool #5: Empty Links

Those who are visually impaired will struggle to understand the context of links on a website if there is not accessible text paired with the link. The link text allows a screen reader to interpret it and communicate back to the user. If your links do not have some form of text replacement they are considered “empty links” and violate website accessibility guidelines.

Check your website for empty links using a tool like the Online Website Link Checker or Accessible Metrics.

Tool #6: Screen Reader Test

A lot of web accessibility issues circle back to the use of screen readers. Therefore, it may be smart to do an overall test on your website to see how compatible it is with a screen reader. A simple tool to complete this task is JAWS (for Windows) or Voiceover (for Mac).

Tool #7: Ongoing Maintenance

Accessibility is going to be constantly changing because the world of technology is evolving so rapidly. Consistently using a tool like Accessible Metrics site scanner will show you potential accessibility issues and give you actionable solutions. Web accessibility testing is not a one time to-do, it’s an ongoing process. Keep up on overall compliance to protect your website.

It’s important to test your website to make sure it is fully accessible to everyone. These automated tools are a great start to making sure your site is safe from lawsuits. Download the Ultimate Website Accessibility Checklist to learn more about common accessibility risks and complete the testing process.