Tools for Testing Accessibility

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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New version of Siteimprove Accessibility

On January 12, 2022, Siteimprove Accessibility was updated to a new, improved version called NextGen. The new version has a similar user experience and still allows you to monitor your site’s accessibility, but includes new features that will make understanding and implementing accessibility fixes much more streamlined. 

Template for Reporting Accessibility Issues

Digital Accessibility Services (DAS) has created a template for assessing the accessibility of websites and presenting issues in a meaningful way to colleagues, leadership, vendors, or anyone else interested in remediating accessibility issues and monitoring progress.

Additional Tools

There's a wide range of tools to support checking accessibility during development and content authoring, and this page lists a selection. These tools come in varying formats and for varying purposes:

  • Some tools support checking single accessibility issues, others can check a range of issues at one time.

  • Some are automated tools that can be set to rapidly analyze code of many pages for specific issues, and generate reports on results. Other tools are intended to support manual inspection and have features that are useful both for content authors and for developers.

  • Browser toolbars can group together a selection of tools to support accessibility checking.

Don't forget that you'll already have some powerful tools available to support accessibility testing:

  • Operating system settings can be configured to assess specific accessibility barriers, for example Windows High Contrast Mode.

  • Browser DOM inspection tools are very helpful for checking specific accessibility issues, so make good use of these during accessibility testing.

  • On Mac OSX and iOS you also have a very powerful screen reader, VoiceOver, which can be used for specific accessibility checks.

Single-Use Tools

Checking color issues, including color contrast problems:

Checking Forms with Qualtrics

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 on their own as a way to collect information, or combined to create surveys and tests. Qualtrics provides a range of advice on accessibility, including 

Checking text resizing issues

Most browsers now support page zoom rather than text resizing, so to test specifically issues relating to support for resizing text may require an additional tool.

Checking multimedia

Checking specific aspects of code quality

  • Accessibility Viewer, by The Paciello Group. For checking for presence and quality of name, role and value/state information
  • Inspect, by Microsoft, for checking accessibility information of a user interface element.
  • HeadingsMap by Jorge Rumoroso (Firefox Extension) generates a document map with headings and/or with sections in HTML 5.
  • Nu HTML Checker. A code validator from W3C. Note that valid code does not on its own guarantee accessibility. 
  • PDF Accessibility Checker, a free tool to test the accessibility of PDF files. 

Browser toolbars and extensions

These bring together a wide range of specific tools in one place, including tools for highlighting headings, lists and table headers, focus order, and alternative text for images. They provide tools that are of use both to content authors and to developers.

  • Web Accessibility Toolbar, by The Paciello Group. A collection of tools for checking a range of accessibility issues. Available for Internet Explorer.
  • Accessibility Developer Tools by Google Accessibility (Chrome Extension): Adds an Accessibility audit, and an Accessibility sidebar pane in the Elements tab, to your Chrome Developer Tools
  • The Wave toolbar by WebAIM. Available for Chrome.
  • Web Developer Toolbar, by Chris Pederick. Includes some tools useful for accessibility checking. Available for Chrome, Firefox and Opera.
  • Diagnostic.css, by Karl Groves. This is not a browser toolbar as such, but a CSS file that, when applied, will highlight specific potential accessibility issues on a page.

Automated tools for large-scale accessibility checking

There are many automated accessibility checking tools available, and the most useful are those that can be configured and integrated into existing development and testing processes, to rapidly and reliably check for specific issues in code. Be aware that automated tools can only ever check for issues that can be confidently identified as actual accessibility issues, or flag potential issues that require manual checking.

  • SortSite Desktop: Application (for Windows and OS X) for checking web sites for accessibility issues.
  • Tenon: provides an API that allows developers to integrate a wide range of reliable accessibility tests into their development workflow.
  • Opquast Reporting (in French). Website quality and accessibility assessment tool. It includes features to evaluate manually and automatically, to export audit reports in various formats, to create tasks from bugs found during the evaluation.
  • Tanaguru. An open source (AGPL license) website assessment tool, with a focus on accessibility.