Web accessibility testing methodology

Interpreting web accessibility reports

Automated 508 compliance testing tools are helpful, but results need to be interpreted by humans, because:

  • Tools often show false negatives.
  • Tools miss the meaning of descriptive text in images, links, iframes and other elements.
  • Tools miss the interpretation of the content as a whole (article’s order, coherence, etc).

508 compliance testing methodology

At Agileana, we follow this methodology to test web accessibility and 508 compliance:

  1. Run automated accessibility testing tools over the website and create an inventory of issues.
  2. Catalog those issues in two categories: Template and content. Template issues are those related to the template of your website that content creators can’t fix in your content mananagement system (CMS) and require the help of a web developer. Content  issues are those related to the content itself, which can be fixed by content creators in the CMS.
  3. Coordinate with your web developer the fixes of template issues.
  4. Coordinate with your content creators the fixes of content issues. In order to prevent these from happening, you should consider training your content management team on web accessibility and 58 compliance best practices.
  5. Use a page reader to read representative pages of your website and document possible improvements for readability, like order of content, meaning of graphic elements, form labels, and so forth.
  6. Perform adjustments based on page reader testing.
  7. Iterate this process until all issues are resolved.

Web accessibility testing is an ongoing process, specially if you are constantly creating content in your site. Therefore, it’s recommended to schedule recurrent tests in order to keep you website accessible.

508 compliance testing tools

We use the following tools to test web accessibility:

Code validation

Total Validator Pro

Link: ​http://www.totalvalidator.com/downloads/protool.html

Total Validator crawls all your site and gives you specific details about 508 compliance issues, spelling issues and other code-related problems. The report of issues is hard to interpret and navigate, though.

WAVE toolbar

Link: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/search/?q=accessibility

Installed in the browser, it helps identifying visually where problems are located. Pages need to be tested individually, though. This tool is helpful when the website you’re testing is password protected or under a VPN and can’t be crawled.

Page readers


Link: http://www.freedomscientific.com/downloads/jaws/jaws-downloads.asp

Utilized to experience what a visually impaired does when using a page reader on the site and verify if the content is meaningful.

Color Contrast Validation

Colour Contrast Analyser

Link: http://www.paciellogroup.com/resources/contrastAnalyser

It allows you to compare the level of contrast between text and background, over anything you have in your screen (browser, JPEG, etc). The results you’ll get with that tool are based on the WCAG 2.0 standard (http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/).

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