What is Web Content Accessibility?
Before divulging into Web Content Accessibility, you need to understand what it is in the first place. According to the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), “Web content accessibility entails that people with disabilities can utilize the Web. More precisely, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, comprehend, navigate, and interact with the Web and that they can also contribute to the Web. In addition, web accessibility is also beneficial to others, including older people with varying abilities due to aging.”
A website needs to be usable in as many browsers as possible so that you don’t exclude potential customers, partners, or even employees. Even though it might affect the total cost of your websites, you’ll never have to convince anyone that this is indeed a worthwhile effort.
Every person deserves the same if not more deliberation than web browsers. The first thing you need to consider when discussing web accessibility is site usability for visually impaired visitors, but visual impairment is only one disability category. Cognitive, auditory, and physical impairments are equally important and need to be addressed accordingly.
Individuals with any of these impairments can use a variety of assistive devices to help to navigate through the web more easily. Accessible websites are those that work well with these kinds of assistive devices and work on delivering a user experience that reduces the need for assistive devices in the first place.
The Importance of Website Accessibility
Website accessibility standards take auditory, cognitive, physical, speech, and visual needs into consideration when evaluating websites. Additionally, websites need to be accessible under every kind of circumstances, including different environments, users, and conditions. Often, improving website accessibility can also make your website more functional in the following situations:
- Bright sunlight
- People using mobile devices
- People who suffer from limited vision or are blind
- Slow internet connection
- Users with broken arms or limited dexterity
- Users difficult environment
- Quiet rooms
- Limited bandwidth
What is WCAG?
- The WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) is part of a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium, the principal international standards organization for the Internet.
- The guidelines have a set of technical requirements for making your app, website, or other digital properties accessible to people with different disabilities.
- There are 3 versions of WCAG; 1.0, 2.0 (replaced 1.0), and 2.1.
- WCAG has 3 levels of conformance:
- Level A is the minimum level;
- Level AA includes Level A and AA requirements; and
- Level AAA includes Level A, AA, and AAA requirements.
- Most of the ADA web accessibility settlements need the defendant to achieve compliance with WCAG 2.1 AA.
- Some of the Principles defined by WCAG for system accessibility are; Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust.
Programmatic Accessibility Testing Tools
Programmatic accessibility testing tools can sort through your site and detect issues as they are written into the code. For example, these tools can easily detect issues like a lack of alternative text (alt-text) for images, HEX or RGB color codes that don’t have enough contrast between them, form fields that do not contain labels or links with no descriptive text. This is an excellent place to start a website accessibility assessment and reveal many common accessibility issues.
For anyone approaching web accessibility for the first time, it might seem a little overwhelming. However, these free accessibility tools mentioned below can help immensely. Website accessibility testing is a step-by-step process of checking whether or not a website or mobile application is fully accessible for all users. Some accessibility issues can be detected by a program, while others can require user testing. So, let us jump right into it!
WAVE is a tool developed by WebAim for assessing the accessibility of web content. WAVE is available at and also can be accessed as a Browser extension for both Chrome and Firefox. WAVE checks for errors based on the WCAG 2.1 Level AA and Section 508. Wave assesses one page at a time. It also helps in identifying the errors related to Links, Headings, Images, Color contrast, Forms, ARIA, structured in a short summary and detailed format. The results are shown in the left pane in a separate section such as Summary, Reference, Details, Contrast, and Structure.
Some of the key features of WAVE include:
- Wave tool interprets the flaws on your page, allowing you to identify which element has errors. In addition, different sets of icons are added on the page to identify errors and warnings on the web page easily.
- You can view the code simultaneously while checking the accessibility errors.
The Colour Contrast Analyser (CCA), developed by THEPACIELLOGROUP (TPG), is a desktop-based tool available for both MAC OS and Windows. Color Contrast Analyser checks for color contrast errors based on the WCAG 2.1 Level AA and AAA. CCA also helps in checking the contrast using the WCAG contrast requirements, which are as follows:
- Large text (Contrast ratio 3.0:1)
- Standard text (Contrast ratio 4.5:1)
- 18pt or higher with non-bold font
- 14pt or higher with bold font
Few key features of CCA include:
- The value of the Color can be set by either using hex codes, color picker, or RGB values.
- Based on the value of color it displays, the contrast ratio and displays the results as per WCAG Level AA and AAA.
- The tool also offers a color blindness simulation that helps to understand how specific color combinations are viewed by people with Monochromacy, Dichromacy, and Trichromacy.
ANDI is a browser-based bookmarklet meant for desktop use to test the accessibility of web content. ANDI checks for errors based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 and Section 508. The results are obtained based on different areas of accessibility in the Page Analysis section. Results cover Accessibility Component, Element highlights, and ANDI output which can be viewed as soon as the user hovers with the mouse or opt for hotkeys with the keyboard to check different content on the page.
A few of the key features of ANDI include:
- ANDI evaluates the website based on color contrast, focusable elements, iframes, heading structure, tables, tabbing order, hidden elements, and many more.
- ANDI tool shows how a screen reader would be reading out the interactive elements.
This toolkit is an accessibility testing tool developed by THE PACIELLO GROUP (TPG). It is a browser-based extension available only for Chrome on Windows. ARC toolkit checks for errors based on the WCA Guidelines 2.1 Level AA. Accessibility of a single page is assessed using the ARC toolkit at any point in time. ARC toolkit then finds a place in the browser’s DevTools tab bar. Results are categorized based on-page elements such as headings, images, tables, etc.
Some of the key features of ARC include:
- The summary of Test results is displayed on the left pane i.e., elements pane.
- The right pane i.e., the results pane, has results displayed for individual elements.
- Users can search the results by selecting an element in the table to view the representation on the web page. It is shown by a supporting text and a red dashed outline.
- The results pane displays the related code, recommendation, and short description.
- Accessibility issues found are segregated as Warnings and Error.
- The toolkit has an additional feature for checking the page reflow and text spacing by choosing the checkbox available in the elements section.
Accessibility insight is a tool that can be used for performing accessibility testing on web applications, Android applications, and webpages. Accessibility Insight is available as following tools and extensions:
- Windows Desktop tool to test web applications.
- Chrome and Edge Browser extension to test web applications and webpages.
- Windows, macOS, and Linux desktop tools for testing Android applications.
- Accessibility Insight checks for errors based on the WCAG 2.1 Level AA.
A few of the key features of Accessibility insight include:
- The tool supports two kinds of test which is Assessment and FastPass.
- FastPass is a lightweight two-step process that includes automated checks like any missing or invalid properties and the Tabs stop technique.
- Automated checks can detect some of the basic accessibility problems in a web page and web-based application quickly, keeping in 50 Success criteria in mind.
- Tab stops provide visual helpers and clear instructions that make it easy to identify issues related to keyboard access, such as support missing, keyboard traps, and incorrect tab order.
- Assessment includes automated checks and manual tests.
- In the case of automated checks, the tool can automatically check for 50 Success criteria to make sure the web page is compliant with WCAG 2.1 Level AA.
- On par with manual tests, the tool provides a visual helper or identifies test instances for users to proceed further.
Summing It Up
The above-mentioned automated testing tools can help you get kickstarted with the accessibility testing of your website or app. The test results generated by these tools need to be verified manually by accessibility consultants and get the product tested for accessibility by end-users, i.e. people with different disabilities. This can ensure that your product caters to the needs of all the users.
Accessibility Spark is easily one of the most efficient tools when it comes to adhering to WCAG and ADA standards. In addition, it can provide you protection from lawsuits along with improving your SEO, conversions, and traffic.