This week WebAIM released a notable update to the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool. Both the online version and the Chrome extension have been updated.
The following changes were included in this update:
- Significant performance enhancements and bug fixes.
- Smarter ARIA and HTML5 evaluation logic:
- New icons for structural elements – HTML5 structural elements (header, nav, main, footer, and aside) and ARIA landmarks (banner, navigation, main, contentinfo, complementary), and a new icon is available to identify search landmark elements.
- Better support for aria-labelledby and aria-describedby. A form control that is missing an associated label element but has an ARIA label is no longer flagged as an error, for example.
- ARIA attribute names and values are now visible directly in the interface making it much easier to determine if they are used correctly.
- We’ve added a new icon for broken ARIA references – when an aria-labelledby or aria-describedby attribute references an element that does not exist in the page.
- The online version now supports some scripting. This provides a more accurate representation of end user accessibility and allow evaluation of dynamically generated or manipulated page and application content.
- The Outline sidebar panel now indicates skipped heading levels and other heading issues (such as empty headings)
- A new icon alerts users to large blocks of fully justified text.
- Numerous other icon and rule updates have been made to ensure accurate feedback and a focus on issues that impact end user accessibility.
- WAVE now better supports all languages and document encodings providing better support for international pages and applications.
Due to policy and platform changes at Mozilla and lack of support for extension development and bug fixes, we have decided to no longer update the WAVE Firefox toolbar. It will still be available for use as long as Firefox supports it, but we recommend users migrate to the Chrome extension which is being updated regularly. We are beginning research into porting the Chrome extension to Microsoft Edge in the future.
We have also made improvements to the WAVE API. The API allows bulk analysis of web pages based on the powerful WAVE evaluation engine. All new evaluation logic above is available in the online API. This functionality will soon be available in the downloadable standalone API.
We have a great vision for the future of WAVE. In the next few months we will focus on continual evaluation logic improvements, performance enhancements, and bug fixes. We’re working on better tutorial materials to help newcomers learn how to best use WAVE. We will also be rolling out additional tools for the standalone API, such as site spidering, site-wide reporting, etc. We’re also beginning work on a visual design update for WAVE to make it easier to use and more visually appealing.
WAVE has come a long way in the decade and a half since it was first created, and we’re excited for what the future holds.