AIS Accessibility Toolbar
About the AIS Toolbar
The Accessible Information Solutions (AIS) team at Vision Australia in Australia provides a toolbar that allows developers to manually evaluate web pages for accessibility. Its options include: identifying components of a web page, simulating user perspectives, and providing links to additional resources for evaluating web pages for accessibility. Download the AIS toolbar. - external link.
The AIS toolbar is a available in a number of languages for free non-commercial use, but it can be used only with Internet Explorer.
This article provides a brief overview of the AIS toolbar. For a detailed description of its features, visit the AIS's Web Accessibility Toolbar - Function Descriptions Web page - external link. A list of access keys - external link is also available.
When using the toolbar, most results appear in a new window or pop-up window. It may be helpful to turn off any pop-up blockers.
Results may also alter the appearance of the web page in the current window. Refresh the page to return to the "normal" view.
Applications for Evaluation
The AIS toolbar provides a number of options for the accessibility evaluation of web pages. Be it through third party tools, transformations of the current web page, or modifying the browser settings, the options provided offer a variety of approaches to accessibility evaluation.
The first of twelve drop-down menus, AIS Web Accessibility Toolbar, provides AIS contact information and links to additional services AIS provides. It also contains the setup options for the toolbar.
The Validate menu offers quick access to a variety of useful validating programs. It gives developers options for using the W3C HTML Validator, W3C CSS Validator, W3C HTML Tidy, W3C Link Checker, WDG HTML Validator, and WDG Link Valet on the current page in the web browser.
Developers can use the Resize menu to view their web pages in a variety of common browser sizes. By selecting a pre-defined size or customizing a size of their own, developers can check and minimize the amount of horizontal scrolling users with low vision might need to view web pages.
The CSS menu offers a number of options to manipulate the view of the current web page by removing the styles defined by CSS. This can be helpful while evaluating the accessibility of a web page, making certain that the message of the page is not dependent on colors or placement.
Another option allows developers to edit and apply styles to the current web page in real time. This can be helpful to developers when determining the best style combinations, as the results are immediate.
Developers can also test for any deprecated HTML elements within the current page. Valid HTML is required for accessibility, and all deprecated code needs to be replaced with current standards-compliant code.
The Images menu provides a number of ways to test for
alt text and the appropriateness of
alt text and images in the current page.
One option opens a new window displaying the images used in the web page,
along with the corresponding
This gives developers a chance to check for
text without wading through the HTML
for the entire page. It also shows the file size of the images, which
developers can review to make certain images will not unnecessarily increase
the time for the page to load.
Another option removes the images from the current page, and replaces them with the corresponding
alt text. By reading the revised page, with the
alt text inserted in the place of images, similar to the way a screen reader would "read" the image, developers can test the appropriateness of their
alt text. Or, using a third option, developers can view the current web page with highlighted images inline with the
alt text and warning if the
alt text is not present. Remember that when the image is used for style only, an empty
alt text (
alt="") should be used.
Developers can use options in the Colour menu to test the current web page for color and contrast. Using these tools will help evaluate the accessibility of web content for people who are color-blind, those who need high contrast, and also for those viewing the site on a PDA or monochrome hardware.
The options available in the Structure menu are powerful resources that facilitate manual web page evaluation. Remember, organized structure and correct use of structural elements increase accessibility for people with disabilities or who use assistive technologies. This menu contains options for identifying a variety of HTML elements and noting event handlers. These options can help developers evaluate the structure of a web page or determine whether HTML elements are being used appropriately and not just for their design effects. Options include identifying the headings, lists, and tables. Developers can make certain that they have used table summaries and column and row headers, which are necessary so that users who are blind can navigate tables effectively. Developers can also test the linearization of a page by removing tables or selecting the option to view the tab order.
Developers have quick access to a number of third party evaluators within the Tools menu: the WAVE, WebXACT, Cynthia Says, and Torquemada.
This menu also contains a number of simulations that recreate the perspectives of a person with a vision or motor disability on the current web page.
Here are samples of the simulations that are available.
The Doc Info menu contains options to test the size of a web page and how quickly it will load over a number of common connection speeds. Another evaluation tool compiles a list of links used within the current page along with the corresponding text, making it easier to review for proper link descriptions, duplicate link titles, and correct destinations.
The Refs menu contains a number of links to accessibility information and resources on the web. These resources come from the W3C, legislation from individual countries, and organizations that advocate online accessibility.
Developers can use the Magnify menu to change the size of text and images within a web page. This can be used to simulate the experience of a user with low vision who uses a screen enlarger. Developers should check for text within images, that when enlarged, become illegible.