Tools & Resources
This page provides a list of tools and resources that support accessible web development. The list was compiled with input from developers across the University of Arkansas, and is a work in progress. To contribute to the list, please send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Web and IT Accessibility Tutorials
- WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind)
- WebAIM’s site includes an introductory tutorial, articles for audiences of all levels of expertise, a blog, and an active discussion list.
- A List Apart
As it describes itself, this website/blog “explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on web standards and best practices.”
- Adobe Accessibility Blog
Regularly updated with informative articles on accessibility within Adobe products.
- Developer Guidelines from IBM
This excellent resource includes accessibility checklists for software accessibility, web accessibility, Java accessibility, hardware accessibility, and more.
Accessibility Basics from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Guidelines and Standards
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG)
This is the definitive set of web accessibility guidelines, from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
- Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA)
ARIA is a W3C specification, currently a working draft, that provides a way to make dynamic web applications and advanced user interface controls more accessible to people with disabilities.
- Section 508
This site from the U.S. Access Board features the full text of the Section 508 legislation, the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards and accompanying tutorials, and the latest draft of the soon-to-be-updated standards.
- The Web Standards Project
A self-described “grassroots coalition fighting for standards which ensure simple, affordable access to web technologies for all.”
- IMS Global Learning Consortium Accessibility Specification
IMS is working on an AccessForAll Meta-data Specification, which is intended to make it possible to identify resources that match a user’s stated preferences or needs. This builds on work by the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. IMS has also developed a set of Guidelines for Developing Accessible Learning Applications.
Standards Validation and Accessibility Evaluation Tools
The tools listed in this section are all free and have been recommended by web developers at the U of A who have experience developing accessible websites.
- W3C Validators
Having valid code is a first step toward web accessibility and cross-browser compatibility. The W3C provides several tools for checking the validity of your code, including a HTML Validator and a CSS Validator.
- Total Validator
This tool is an HTML and CSS validator, an accessibility validator, a spell checker, and a broken links checker all rolled into one tool allowing one-click validation of your web pages. It’s available as a standalone application for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux; and is also available as a Firefox extension.
- HTML Tidy
This is a software library that evaluates and cleans up HTML, automatically generating a reformatted (i.e., “tidied”) version. HTML Tidy is integrated into the free web development editor HTML-Kit and is available in a Windows GUI version called TidyGUI.
- Functional Accessibility Evaluator (FAE)
Online web accessibility evaluator from the University of Illinois, designed for testing WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA requirements. FAE is capable of crawling a website and providing a summary report, plus reports for each individual page.
Developed by the folks at WebAIM, this online tool evaluates the accessibility of a web page and shows results using icons and indicators, embedded onto the original page.
This online web accessibility checker was developed by the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at the University of Toronto.
The W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 requires a specific contrast ratio between foreground and background colors. There are several tools available for measuring contrast:
- Colour Contrast Analyser
This free application, available in Windows and Mac versions, makes it easy to check foreground & background color combinations. Both versions include an eyedropper tool for easily grabbing a particular color from anywhere on the screen.
- WebAIM Color Contrast Checker
This handy online tool includes a feature to “lighten” or “darken” existing colors until you find a combination that meets WCAG 2.0 requirements.
- Colorblind Web Page Filter
Emulates websites as individuals with various types of color blindness would perceive them.
Browser Toolbars, Add-ons and Extensions
- Web Developer Toolbar for Firefox or Chrome.
This highly useful toolbar is packed with features, including many that help developers to create websites that are accessible.
- AInspector Sidebar for Firefox
This tool conducts an accessibility evaluation (based on WCAG 2.0 and ARIA) of the page that’s currently loaded in the browser, and provides feedback in a sidebar.
- WAVE Chrome Extension
This toolbar from WebAIM is similar in some ways to the one preceding it in this list, albeit with a few different accessibility rules and a different user interface. We recommend trying both to see which one you like best.
- Accessibility Bookmarklets
This suite of bookmarklets can be used in any browser and work by visually highlighting specific accessibility features within a web page, including ARIA landmarks, headings, lists, and accessibility-related features of images and forms.
- Web Accessibility Toolbar
This toolbar is no longer actively developed, but still provides a rich set of features for checking structure and accessibility of web pages within Internet Explorer.
- Accessibility for Apple Developers
Apple’s site includes a variety of resources for iOS developers.
- Accessibility for Android Developers
Includes a variety of resources that help developers to use the Android framework to make applications more accessible.
- Adobe PhoneGap Accessibility
This post on the Adobe Accessibility Blog describes developments in PhoneGap accessibility and links to several tools and resources.
When testing web pages and IT products with assistive technologies, it is important to be aware that no two assistive technology (AT) products are alike. Developers are cautioned to use these tools only as an approximate gauge of accessibility. What seems to work perfectly in Product A may be inaccessible in Product B. Therefore, developers should resist the tendency to develop sites and applications that work with a particular AT product, and focus instead on developing sites that comply with standards.
Some assistive technology vendors provide demo versions of their products, some of which can be used indefinitely but time-out after a few minutes of operation. Product licenses vary as to whether using these demo versions is permissible for testing and development purposes.
Also, all major desktop operating systems are bundled with basic assistive technology utilities. For more information about these utilities in Windows and Mac OS X consult the accessibility sites at Microsoft and Apple.
In addition, the following free assistive technologies can be useful for testing web pages.
NVDA (“Non-Visual Desktop Access”) is a free, open source screen reader. WebAIM publishes a handy guide on Using NVDA to Evaluate Web Accessibility.
VoiceOver is the screen reader that ships with Mac OS X, as well as iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad. WebAIM publishes a handy guide on Using VoiceOver to Evaluate Web Accessibility.
ChromeVox is Google’s screen reader that ships with Chrome OS. It is also available as an extension for the Google Chrome web browser.