New WAVE Version Released

WebAIM is pleased to announce that a new version of the WAVE web accessibility evaluation tool was released today. This significant update reflects many months of work on WebAIM’s part to make WAVE more stable, powerful, and useful. Since the version 4 beta was launched just over a year ago, WAVE has been used to analyze nearly a million web pages for accessibility. Today’s launch signifies a significant step forward in making WAVE the most powerful and useful (and ALWAYS free) web accessibility tool available.

Notable new and improved features:

  • Simplified and streamlined user interface
  • Significantly re-engineered back-end framework
    • Better stability and significantly faster processing of pages
    • Single sourced code for server version of WAVE and the Firefox toolbar
    • More powerful and flexible logic for WAVE evaluation rules
  • Support for internationalization. Initial translations will be provided in coming months.
  • Several new WAVE rules
    • Missing fieldset – alert when a group of check boxes or radio buttons is not enclosed in a fieldset
    • ARIA – indicator for all ARIA roles, properties, and attributes
    • Unlabeled form element with title – alerts users to form elements that do not have an associated label, but do have the necessary title attribute
    • Blink
    • Many other rules have been further polished and improved for accuracy

All of these new features and many more are currently being implemented into an updated Firefox toolbar which will be available in the near future.

We are always open to feedback and hope that you will take some time to review the new WAVE features and let us know how we can make it even better.


  1. caroline

    the new version doesn’t work!!!! I’ve had my site assessed last week and it worked, now i need to print off the report and i can’t access it through file upload.

  2. Jared Smith


    This was a bug with handling uploads from Internet Explorer. This has now been fixed.

  3. Mike Elledge

    Hi Jared–

    This is great news! WAVE has been a favorite tool of mine for years. I noticed that the latest version still doesn’t enable checking by guidelines or standards (i.e., 508 and WCAG 2.0). Am I correct to assume that the following is the reason and will remain in effect: “Because most guidelines are subject to great degrees of interpretation and because some are rather outdated and no longer relevant, WAVE does not directly map its rules and tests to checkpoints of accessibility guidelines.”

    It would be great to have the option…

    Best regards,

    Mike Elledge
    Usability & Accessibility Center
    Michigan State University

  4. Jared Smith


    This is exactly correct. Part of the problem is that it’s very difficult to determine which WAVE rules or icons are part of any particular set of guidelines.

    More importantly, we’re very reluctant to limit the WAVE results to things we know are identified in guidelines. It leads to a false understanding that if WAVE indicates no errors for Section 508, for example, that you are compliant. We’ve tried very hard to avoid this. Also, WAVE identifies accessibility issues that are not identified in any guidelines and we don’t want these to be overlooked.

    For example, it’s perfectly valid to have redundant alternative text in ALL accessibility guidelines (including WCAG 2 AAA), yet we know this is an accessibility issue. Empty headings can cause significant navigation issues, yet they are perfectly fine in all coding and accessibility guidelines. We would hate for someone to be intent on being accessible (even at WCAG 2 AAA) and select that as an option and thus miss out on being notified of other significant issues.

    The short of it is that WAVE is only a tool for helping humans determine their level of compliance, so an understanding of those guidelines will always be necessary.

    This does not mean, however, that we aren’t considering this functionality. If we can find a reasonable way of implementing it, you will likely see it in the future. One thing that will be provided very soon is an Icons Key that does map icons to Section 508 and WCAG 2. We believe that this will help users determine what WAVE is telling them in regard to compliance.