What is web accessibility and why should you use a web accessibility checker?
If you spend any time at all building websites, either as a hobby or as your profession, you’ll hear one term is thrown around a lot: web accessibility. This is the process of building a web page to be functional for users with disabilities and impairments.
That’s where things get problematic. Building web pages to be accessible is becoming even more important in recent years thanks to new regulations.
The WCAG, short for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, are standards for determining what makes a website considered accessible.
Some of the most important guidelines to meet are things like proper navigation, using proper names and labels, and having the right contrast ratios and colors on your website.
The most crucial guidelines that you should try to meet when building your website:
- Make sure your navigation is consistent and easy to use with the correct access keys
- Make sure you use the correct ARIA attributes for screen-reader compatibility
- Use the correct names and labels for fields and buttons
- Use Alt tags for all images and videos
- Be sure to use colors with a strong enough contrast
- Be sure to format tables and lists for compatibility with screen-readers
- Try to use subtitles for any audio and video content
For a full list of WCAG guidelines, check out the official website here.
WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool
When building web pages for myself and for clients, I would often find myself consulting checklists to make sure I was following accessibility guidelines. Luckily, many people have been down this path before and have created tools to check the accessibility of a website. I was quite pleased when I stumbled across these accessibility checker tools; it would only make my job easier.
One of the most reliable tools I found was from Webaim.org. This web accessibility evaluation tool abbreviated as “WAVE” is super helpful for checking an individual web page against accessibility guidelines. I found myself using it on an almost daily basis.
Basically how it works is you navigate to wave.webaim.org and input the web page address you would like to test. The tool instantly provides you with notes on what your site is doing right and what it is doing wrong. You end up with something like this:
And then I found out about Experte.com
I actually found out about this accessibility checker when the creator of the site reached out to me. After hearing what made their tool different, I knew I had to check it out. (As a side note, they didn’t pay me to post this or anything. I just like the tool and think more people should use it).
The main difference that makes Experte.com a superior tool is the ability to crawl your entire site. Instead of having to input individual URLs, you can simply input one URL and get a detailed report for every page on your site. This really comes in handy when working with a large-scale website or blog with tons of pages.
Check out their accessibility checker here.
Although it may not be perfect for everyone, it is ideal for my needs as a freelance web developer, and I find it much faster to use than relying on checklists alone or WAVE.
One Important Thing To Note
It is still important to review your website manually to make sure it is completely accessible, but a tool like this really comes in handy for speeding up the process.