Tools and Resources

This page provides a list of tools and resources that support accessible development, primarily of web and multimedia content and applications. The list was compiled with input from developers across the University of Washington, and is a work in progress. To contribute to the list, please see the Collaboration page, or send recommendations to Terry Thompson at tft@washington.edu.

Web and IT Accessibility Tutorials

  • WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind)
    Introductory tutorial, articles for audiences of all levels of expertise, a blog, and a discussion list
  • HTCTU Trainings and Tutorials
    Developed by the High Tech Center Training Unit of the California Community College system, these tutorials are extremely thorough and well-written, and cover a broad variety of topics related to IT accessibility.
  • Web Accessibility for Section 508
    A tutorial by accessibility consultant Jim Thatcher, thoroughly explains each of the Section 508 web accessibility standards with plenty of examples
  • Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology
    This is the official guide from the U.S. Access Board, the federal agency who developed the standards. This guide is easy to read, provides excellent examples, and covers all IT categories that are addressed by Section 508 (including web, software, multimedia, hardware, telecommunications, and standalone IT equipment)
  • Web Accessibility 101
    This online course on web accessibility policy, standards, and design is developed and maintained by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the first higher education institutions to implement a high-level web accessibility policy.
  • Building Accessible Websites
    Free, online, and recently updated version of the popular book by accessibility consultant Joe Clark

Informative Websites and Blogs

  • Developer Guidelines from IBM
    This excellent resource includes accessibility checklists for software accessibility, web accessibility, Java accessibility, hardware accessibility, and more.
  • Guild of Accessible Web Designers
    GAWD is "a worldwide association of professional organisations, web designers and developers working together to promote the use and preservation of accessible design standards." Their blog explores a variety of interesting topics related to accessibility.
  • Boxes and Arrows
    A general blog for Web designers, with lots of good articles about accessibility in the real technology world
  • A List Apart
    As it describes itself, this website/blog "explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on web standards and best practices."

Web and IT Accessibility Resources from DO-IT

The DO-IT Center (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) at the UW has worked tirelessly since 1991 to to increase the participation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs and careers. In doing so DO-IT has developed a number of resources related to IT accessibility, including the resources listed below.

Guidelines and Standards

Standards Validation and Accessibility Evaluation Tools

The tools listed in this section are all free and have been recommended by web developers at the UW who have experience developing accessible websites. A wide variety of additional products are available for purchase. To explore the full spectrum of products in this area (free or otherwise), use the Simple or Advanced Search feature on the W3C’s Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools site.

  • W3C Validators
    Having valid code is a first step toward web accessibility and cross-browser compatibility. The W3C provides several tools for checking the validity of your code, including an HTML Validator, CSS Validator, and mobileOK Checker.
  • Total Validator
    This tool is a an (X)HTML validator, an accessibility validator, a spell checker, and a broken links checker all rolled into one tool allowing one-click validation of your web pages. It’s available as a standalone application for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux; and is also available as a Firefox extension.
  • HTML Tidy
    A software library that evaluates and cleans up HTML, automatically generating a reformatted (i.e., "tidied") version. HTML Tidy is integrated into the free web development editor HTML-Kit, is available in a Windows GUI version called TidyGUI, and is available in an HTML Tidy Web Interface as a service from UW Technology.
  • Functional Accessibility Evaluator (FAE)
    Online web accessibility evaluator from the University of Illinois. Is capable of crawling a website and providing a summary report, plus reports for each individual page.
  • WAVE
    Developed by the folks at WebAIM, this online tool evaluates the accessibility of a web page and shows results using icons and indicators, embedded onto the original page.
  • AChecker
    This online web accessibility checker was developed by the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at the University of Toronto.
  • Contrast Analyser
    This free application, available in Windows and Mac versions, makes it easy to check foreground & background color combinations to determine if they provide good color visibility.
  • VisCheck
    Emulates websites as individual with various types of color blindness would perceive them.

Browser Toolbars, Add-ons, and Extensions

For Firefox

  • Firebug
    An add-on for FireFox that greatly speeds up the process of cracking problems in Web page behaviors. As the product website explains, "you can edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page".
  • Firefox Web Developer Toolbar
    This highly useful toolbar is packed with features, including many that help developers to create websites that are accessible.
  • Accessibility Evaluation Toolbar
    Developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, there is some overlap between this toolbar the the Web Developer Toolbar, but this one focuses more specifically on accessibility.
  • WAVE Toolbar
    This toolbar from WebAIM is similar in some ways to the two preceding it in this list, but provides a few unique features, including the ability to run complete WAVE accessibility reports on a page with a single click.
  • Juicy Studio Accessibility Toolbar
    This simple, specialized toolbar enables developers to examine ARIA landmarks, roles, properties, and live regions; and additionally includes a table inspector and color contrast analyser.
  • FireEyes
    A feature-rich accessibility plug-in that is fully integrated with Firebug.
  • ainspector
    The Accessibility Inspector for Firebug gives developers the ability to examine the accessibility features found in the Document Object Model (DOM) of web sites and web applications. It generates a report on accessibility problems and features of HTML and ARIA enabled web resources.

For Internet Explorer

  • Internet Explorer Developer Tools. This toolkit is Microsoft’s answer to the Firefox web Developer Toolbar, is similarly feature-rich, and is built into IE8 (just press F12 to activate it).
  • Web Accessibility Toolbar
    This toolbar provides a rich set of features for checking structure and accessibility of web pages. Versions are currently available for Internet Explorer. Continued development on this tool is led by the Web Accessibility Tools Consortium (WAT-C), an overall great resource for free accessibility tools.

Programming/Scripting/ARIA

Given the high level of interest in dynamic web programming among UW Web Developers, it is imperative that developers become familiar with accessibility standards, guidelines, and techniques, and apply them with developing web applications. Accessibility of dynamic web applications is dependent in large part on ARIA, the W3C’s draft specification for Accessible Rich Internet Applications. The following resources are great starting points for learning more about ARIA, and serve as excellent references for anyone developing accessible applications.

  • WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices
    This resource from the W3C provides detailed steps for developing rich web applications using ARIA, including example code.
  • MDN ARIA Site
    This site from the Mozilla Developer Network is a hub for excellent information, including tutorials, articles, and examples.
  • Open Ajax Examples
    This site features a collection of working examples of interactive widgets that feature ARIA techniques.
  • Introduction to ARIA
    This article by Gez Lemon on the Dev.Opera site is one of the best at providing an introductory explanation of ARIA.
  • WAI-ARIA Live Regions
    Another excellent article by Gez Lemon, this one on his own Juicy Studio site
  • AJAX Accessibility Overview
    Succinct overview of issues and best practices, from Debbie Gibson of IBM.
  • Accessible Web 2.0 Applications with WAI-ARIA
    Excellent overview by Martin Kliehm, on A List Apart
  • Java Accessibility
    For Java developers. this page is Sun Microsystems’ hub for tools and resources related to Java accessibility.

Assistive Technologies

When testing web pages and IT products with assistive technologies, it is important to be aware that no two assistive technology (AT) products are alike. Developers are cautioned to use these tools only as an approximate gauge of accessibility. What seems to work perfectly in Product A may be inaccessible in Product B. Therefore, developers should resist the tendency to develop sites and applications that work with a particular AT product, and focus instead on developing sites that comply with standards.

Some assistive technology vendors provide demo versions of their products, some of which can be used indefinitely but time-out after a few minutes of operation. Product licenses vary as to whether using these demo versions is permissible for testing and development purposes. For information about available products and license restrictions, contact the Access Technology Lab.

Also, all major desktop operating systems are bundled with basic assistive technology utilities. For more information about these utilities in Windows and Mac OS X consult the accessibility sites at Microsoft, Apple.

In addition, the following free assistive technologies can be useful for testing web pages.

Multimedia Accessibility

  • MAGpie
    Free tool for adding captions and audio description to videos, from National Center on Accessible Media at WGBH
  • Captionate
    Tool from Manitu Group, embeds caption data directly into a Flash Video file
  • Automatic Sync Technologies
    Upload videos and transcripts and have them captioned automatically within minutes
  • CC For Flash
    Another NCAM product, tools for supporting closed captioned video within Flash
  • Adobe Accessibility Blog
    Features several articles on adding captions to Flash video

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