A Review of Free, Online Accessibility Tools
Comparing and Contrasting Accessibility Tools
When deciding which accessibility tool will work best for you it is important to consider the standards and guidelines used by accessibility tools, the report formats they generate, and any additional features that the tools provide.
Standards and Guidelines Used by Accessibility Tools
Anytime a developer wants to create content that is accessible, the first question is, "accessible to whom?" The next question is, "accessible to what standard?" One key in understanding accessibility tools is to understand the standards to which the tool was developed. WCAG 1.0 consists of three priority levels that act as an industry standard.
The first level, Priority 1, covers items on web pages that must be made accessible in order for individuals with disabilities to access the content at all. The second level, Priority 2, includes items on web pages that should be made accessible to allow a wider group of users to access the content. The third level, Priority 3, describes items on web pages that can be made accessible to allow the widest amount of individuals with disabilities to use the site. For more information about WCAG 1.0 visit the W3 web site- external link.
Similarly, Section 508 of the United States Rehabilitation Act outlines the requirements for making federally-funded web sites accessible to individuals with disabilities. The standards detail how different components of web sites need to be designed to make the web content accessible. Under Section 508, the U.S. federal government has 16 standards that are used to define web accessibility. For more information about Section 508 visit the WebAIM Section 508 checklist. With these standards and guidelines in mind, the accessibility tools reviewed perform the following functions:
- Evaluates Web Pages Against WCAG 1.0 Priority 1-3 and Displays Errors: the tool automatically checks the web site for WCAG 1.0 Priority 1-3 for automated errors and lists these errors in the report.
- Evaluates Web Pages Against Section 508 and Displays Errors: the tool checks the accessibility of the page using Section 508 standards.
- Displays instances of types of errors on page: the tool automatically determines the amount of a specific kind of accessibility error or manual check issues and displays these items in the report.
|Accessibility Standards or Guidelines Checked||Accessibility Valet Demonstrator||AccMonitor Online||Cynthia Says||TAW||Torquemada||Wave 3.5||WebXact|
|Evaluates Web Pages Against WCAG 1.0 Priority 1-3 and Displays Errors||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Evaluates Web Pages Against Section 508 and Displays Errors||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Displays instances of types of errors on page||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|