Web accessibility testing focuses specifically on evaluating the usability of web interfaces for individuals with disabilities, whose impairments influence their interaction with online content.
Performing web accessibility testing solely through manual testing can be time-consuming and may lead to gaps, particularly when working with tight project deadlines. Each accessibility testing tool employs a distinct methodology for analyzing web pages. Consequently, the test results can vary even when applying the same rule across different tools. Automated tools aid in accessibility testing but can’t catch all errors, lacking context understanding and content quality evaluation.
Understanding the results from the automated accessibility testing tools requires experience in accessibility techniques with an understanding of technical and usability issues.
To have the effective of accessibility testing, our approach should involves combining automation testing, and manual testing with supported tools. So, after we have done a first pass with automated tools, we need to follow up with manual testing to make sure your website is inclusive and accessibility.
There are many tools to support the accessibility testing. This post presents a selection of browser- add-ons designed to enhance the effectiveness of accessibility testing and focus on free versions:
The Axe Extension is available for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox browsers, and it boasts a user-friendly interface that ensures accessibility for users of all levels of expertise.
The tool guarantees accurate results, eliminating any false positives that could potentially waste your time. All you need to do is install and run the extension.
ArcToolKit serves as a page-level assertion tool with the added benefit of being a Chrome extension. It utilizes the ARC rule set to perform its accessibility assessments. The results are displayed both in a panel and within the page itself. Each test can be individually enabled or disabled, facilitating issue isolation. Additionally, the tool allows direct inspection of the identified issues within the element.
ArcToolKit is highly regarded for its ease of use, speed, and consistent support from a leading accessibility vendor. Notably, ArcToolKit has explicitly confirmed that it neither collects nor utilizes user data. This commitment enhances the protection of clients’ sensitive and competitive information.
It provides automated detection of accessibility issues and gives practical suggestions to improve accessibility and check 508 compliance.
By hovering over elements on the website, we can easily identify focusable and interactive elements through visual highlights, providing valuable insights into their accessibility compliance. This feature greatly supports manual testing of the website. Additionally, we have the flexibility to optimize the ANDI code and create our own customized tool by leveraging the available resources on GitHub.
Wave is another free browser extension on Chrome, Firefox and Edge to test for accessibility developed by Webaim.org.
To run WAVE, simply clicking on WAVE icon in extensions on the right of the address bar. It provides visual feedback about the accessibility of your web content by injecting icons and indicators into your page.
DigitalA11y Tublets is a free Visualizer tools, they facilitated various kind of bookmarklet into one so it is faster and easier for manual accessibility testing.
You can also toggle items to easily identify accessibility issues.
6. Browser dev tools
Browsers DevTools is a set of web developer tools built directly into the browser to support in the debugging, testing, and optimization of web pages and web applications. Most of common browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge,..) have accessibility auditing tools that help developers identify accessibility issues in their web pages.
|Tools||Supported Browsers||Types||Support Standard||Report Detail||Customizable option|
|Axe Dev Tool||Chrome, Firefox, Edge||Assertion||WCAG 2.1 AA||Yes||Yes|
|Arc Toolkit||Chrome||Assertion||WCAG 2.0
|ANDI||Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari||Investigation||Section 508 only||Limited||No|
|Wave||Chrome, Firefox, Edge||Assertion||WCAG 2.1||Yes (but somehow difficult to interpret for new user)||Yes|
|Browser dev tool||Chrome, Firefox, Edge||Inspection||No||No|
The use of tools cannot fully replace the necessity of manual testing in accessibility. While using tools are valuable, it may overlook certain situations that can only be identified through manual testing, such as understanding the author’s intention behind using an image or detecting potential traps in forms following error messages. Moreover, no tool can guarantee complete adherence to accessibility standards or rules.
My approach involves initially scanning the web page using an assertion tool for an initial assessment. Subsequently, I employ Investigation and visualizer tools to validate the results obtained from the assertion tool, thoroughly investigate any identified issues, and ensure compliance with additional requirements.
By sharing this information, I aim to provide you with a deeper understanding of various accessibility tools that contribute to creating a more inclusive and accessible website.