Automated Tools for Testing Accessibility

To find out if your website is accessible, automated tools are a good place to start. Automated tools crawl a website’s underlying code and existing content, and flag errors based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Many tools also provide guidance on how to fix the issues. These tools save time for both developers and content creators, and they often catch errors that might not be obvious. 

While automated tools are a huge help in accessibility testing, they can’t catch every error, since they can’t understand context or evaluate content quality. So after you’ve done a first pass with automated tools, you’ll need to follow up with manual testing to make sure your website is inclusive and accessible. 

There are hundreds of helpful accessibility tools, so we’ve selected a few of our favorites that we recommend to evaluate the accessibility of websites.

Siteimprove 

Harvard-Licensed Tool to Check Accessibility

  • Breaks down accessibility issues into prioritized, manageable tasks
  • Runs automated Accessibility and Quality Assurance checks
  • Tracks and reports progress towards accessibility compliance
  • Provides guidance and practical recommendations

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Free Automated Tools

Icon of a screen with a gear overlaid.Comprehensive testing

These bring together a wide range of specific tools to check a variety of issues on a webpage, and can be useful for both content creators and developers.

Checking specific aspects of code and content

Checking color contrast 

  • Contrast Checker by WebAIM, includes lightness sliders to adjust the colors to ones with sufficient contrast.
  • Colour Contrast Analyser by The Paciello Group, a separate application that can select colors using an eyedropper tool.
  • Contrast Ratio by Lea Verou, calculates a contrast ratio range when both colors include translucency (alpha channel). Color values are in the page address bar, so they’re easy to bookmark and share.

Qualtrics Forms

Qualtrics is web-based survey software available for use by Harvard faculty, students, and staff to support teaching and research at Harvard. The tool supports the creation of forms, which can be used to collect information or to create surveys and tests. Qualtrics provides a range of guidance on accessibility.