With all these federal standards for website accessibility, including Section 508 and the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), it’s difficult to make sure that your website complies with all the guidelines. Fortunately, there are many free web-based website accessibility evaluation analysis tools right at your disposal.
Let’s see what five of the best tools tell us about how well these government sites follow the guidelines:
1. AChecker by Inclusive Design Research Centre
The first tool I came across was the AChecker. The home page is simple and straightforward. It allows users to submit sites through URL, HTML file upload, or pasting the HTML markup. You may also create your own guidelines and author your own accessibility checks.
I tested the tool on my three example sites, and found 386 known problems for afreserve.com, and 0 known problems for whitehouse.gov (wow!) Unfortunately, the site returned an error when I tried to check census.gov. This may be a bug in their system that needs to be fixed.
2. A-Tester by Evaluera Ltd
Like AChecker, A-Tester checks given websites against the WCAG 2.0 Level-AA conformance statements for HTML5 foundation markup. The report locates the errors in the code, but unfortunately does not total the errors – you must do that manually if you are comparing tools. However, users may sort the errors by the frequency of occurrence or by the WCAG Success Criteria.
3. Cynthia Says by Cryptzone
Cynthia Says is an education and outreach project meant for personal, non-commercial use. It allows users to check their site content against not only the WCAG guidelines, but also the Section 508 standards for accessibility.
Since I wanted to be consistent, I chose the WCAG 2.0 AA compliance mode. Scanning the page may take a little longer than the other tools, but the report Cynthia Says provides is clear and comprehensive, with numerous categories for issues found.
4. MAUVE Accessibility Validator by Human Interfaces in Information Systems Laboratory – ISTI-CNR
MAUVE, which stands for Multiguideline Accessibility and Usability Validation Environment, is one of the best web accessibility evaluation tools out there.
From the main page, you can choose the guidelines to check against (Visually Impaired, Stanca Act, or WCAG 2.0), or upload your custom guidelines in XML. You are also prompted to select a level of conformance (A, AA, or AAA) as well as the user agent for the request. MAUVE’s report highlights the errors in the HTML for you.
5. WAVE by WebAIM
WAVE is an online service like others, but is it unique in that gives you a report of accessibility violations by annotating right on the web page, which many find visually friendly. I found their report to be straightforward and helpful. The Documentation section is detailed with information on what each error means, why it matters, and how to fix the error.
Here’s a chart comparing the five tools above:
Through my search, I’ve found that most of the tools defaulted to checking sites against the WCAG guidelines. They were mainly consistent in reviews, with all but CynthiaSays reporting afreserve.com with the most errors and whitehouse.gov with the least.
All of the tools available online have many diverse functions to suit your needs. If the above tools don’t work for you, check out more on the W3C’s Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List. If you’d like our team to help your website meet the guidelines, please reach out to us.