WebAIM is pleased to announce the release of WAVE 4.0. We invite you to test WAVE and provide feedback, recommendations, and bug reports on this beta version at this time.
What is WAVE?
WAVE is a web accessibility evaluation tool. Rather than providing a complex technical report, WAVE shows your original web content with embedded icons and indicators that reveal the accessibility information within your page. WAVE cannot tell you if your web content is accessible – only a human can determine true accessibility – but WAVE can help you evaluate the accessibility of your web content. You can submit web content to WAVE for evaluation by providing a URL, uploading a file, or entering/pasting HTML code.
What’s New in Version 4?
New evaluation rules
WAVE 4.0 beta features 28 new accessibility tests. These provide more detailed checking of accessibility issues and features found in your web content. For instance, instead of simply identifying missing alt text, WAVE 4.0 indicates if the element missing alt text is a decorative image, a link, an image map hotspot, etc. New tests check for empty headings, broken skip navigation links, missing or poor page titles, small text, pop-up windows, hidden content, and much more.
A new evaluation framework
An entirely new evaluation framework makes WAVE more powerful and flexible. Rather than relying on complex tests and if/else statements, a simple, XML-based language is used for writing evaluation rules. This allows easy creation and modification of evaluation rules, icons, and reporting features. Eventually, WAVE may allow user-authoring, editing, or submitting of evaluation rules to allow custom evaluation of web or other content. This framework will allow us to implement future testing under our cognitive disabilities initiative.
Powered by Mozilla
When web content is submitted to WAVE, WAVE uses the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine (this is the rendering engine used in Firefox) to generate a virtual representation (or DOM) of the page. This rendered content, rather than the raw HTML code, is then evaluated against the evaluation rules. This allows WAVE to evaluate elements after cascading style sheets have been applied to them. WAVE can now identify overly small text, for example, even if it is small due to multiple CSS inheritances. It also allows for better evaluation of documents that are not structured or coded to web standards.
Better reporting interface
WAVE 4.0 reporting is simpler and more user-friendly. Tooltips for WAVE icons now provide additional details. Four different report views allow you to evaluate different aspects of your web content. New functionality is available for copy/paste of HTML code and viewing your evaluation history. Additionally, the number of preference options available has decreased. In fact, there really are NO user preferences in WAVE 4.
The interface is also more stable, allowing inline reporting for complex, CSS-driven web site. Despite the improvements, we cannot account for all possible styles and some reports may be rendered with unreadable or layered elements. In such cases, an option is available for disabling CSS styles within reports.
In future versions, more detailed reporting and report customization will be available.
The WAVE Firefox Toolbar will be available late January 2008. This toolbar will perform all of the WAVE evaluation work directly within your web browser. Because there will be no WAVE server interaction, this will allow for private and secure evaluation of password protected, intranet, dynamically generated, or script modified/AJAX powered web pages.
During beta testing, a set of test case documents will be available at http://wave.webaim.org/report These provide an excellent way to become familiar with how WAVE works and what its capabilities are. Additionally, the Icons Key can be used to identify new WAVE icons and tests.
WAVE is very much in beta, so if you encounter bugs or have recommendations, please use the feedback form to notify us.
We will be holding an EASI webinar on Monday, January 28th, where we’ll present on the new features of WAVE 4 and what to expect in the future.