Web accessibility evaluation tools help determine if a webpage complies with web accessibility standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Determining if a Webpage or Web site meets web accessibility standards requires a combination of automatic and manual testing. Evaluation tools can only test against a certain portion of the web accessibility standards. For example, an evaluation tool can check if an image has alternative text, but it cannot check if that text is semantically meaningful or useful – a human reviewer needs to check this. Evaluation tools will generally identify the elements that need to be checked manually.
There is a range of evaluation tools available, which vary in price and quality.
Free evaluation tools are still catching up with the change from WCAG 1.0 to WCAG 2.0, despite WCAG 2.0 being a recommendation since December 2008. Thus, it is important to check that the tool you use supports the latest web accessibility standard.
There are free evaluation tools that support WCAG 2.0 such as aChecker, TAW and the Firebug Accessibility Extension. The highly popular evaluation tool WAVE, produced by WebAIM, is also being updated to support WCAG 2.0.
aChecker is a free and open source Web accessibility evaluation tool produced by Inclusive Design Research Institute. aChecker supports the widest range of web accessibility standards and guidelines compared with all other free web accessibility evaluation tools, namely BITV 1.0, Section 508, WCAG 1.0, WCAG 2.0 and Stanca Act.
aChecker generates a report of evaluation results and assists evaluations by providing notes about how to repair the problem.
TAW is a free Web accessibility evaluation tool produced by Fundación CTIC. TAW supports the evaluation of websites against WCAG 1.0 and WCAG 2.0 (beta).
TAW has three different versions: TAW3 WebStart which is the online version of TAW, TAW3 with a click which is a browser plug-in for Mozilla Firefox and TAW3 standalone, a multiplatform software application that complements and extends the functionality of TAW WebStart. TAW WebStart and TAW3 with a click check a webpage at a time.
According to the developers, TAW for WCAG 2.0 is in beta stage because some checkpoints aren't implemented exactly as described in the recommendation. TAW is relying on users to test the WCAG 2.0 beta version and provide feedback that will enable them to fix any errors and improve the evaluation tool.
Worldspace FireEyes is a powerful Web accessibility tool produced by Deque Systems. FireEyes supports the evaluation of websites against Section 508, WCAG 1.0, and WCAG 2.0. The tool includes additional integrated features such as colour contrast, custom rules for evaluating dynamic content and WAI-ARIA compliance, and reading-order analysis with and without CSS.
FireEyes is an add-on to the Firefox Firebug plug-in. It will also work with Safari, and has been tested on Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6.
Unlike the other free Web accessibility evaluation tools which check accessibility one page at a time, FireEyes allows you to generate an accessibility report about multiple pages.
WAVE, Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool
WAVE is a free Web accessibility evaluation tool produced by WebAIM. WAVE supports the evaluation of websites against WCAG 1.0 and Section 508. WebAIM is currently working on WAVE5 which will support WCAG 2.0.
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