How to Evaluate Your Web Pages for Accessibility

This month is the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act, federal legislation designed “to [eliminate] discrimination against people with disabilities.” Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be writing some ProfHacker posts concerned with disability, accommodations, accessibility, classrooms, and digital environments.

Today I’m going to provide links to a few resources and tools addressing accessibility in digital environments. Now, this can often seem like an overwhelming topic to beginners, so I usually start by pointing people to these (relatively) newbie-friendly places:

If you’ve created your web pages already and you want to test them for accessibility, it’s best to engage in user testing with actual people. However, there are a number of helpful tools that will automatically check many of the most important accessibility issues on your sites:

  • WAVE Toolbar: from WebAIM, an extension originally designed for the Firefox browser. A version for Chrome is also available. Very user-friendly, but not as customizable or as detailed as HTML_Codesniffer.

  • HTML_CodeSniffer: a bookmarklet that works with almost any browser. Very detailed, customizable, but not as user-friendly as WAVE Toolbar.

  • Tota11y: “an accessibility visualization toolkit…a single JavaScript file that inserts a small button in the bottom corner of your document.” Click on the button and you will see where your web page has accessibility problems.

  • pa11y: “a locally hosted command line tool that lets you check the accessibility of web pages, your own or others’.” Cory Bohon has written a guide to installing and using pa11y on a Mac.

  • Consult also this Web Evaluation Tools List from the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative.

What are your favorite resources and tools concerning accessibility and digital resources? Please share in the comments.
[CC-licensed Flickr photo by Mike Gifford]

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