Tools & resources
This page provides a list of tools and resources that support accessible web development. 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 send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Web and IT accessibility tutorials
- WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind)
WebAIM’s site includes an introductory tutorial, articles for audiences of all levels of expertise, a blog, and an active 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.
- Developer Guidelines from IBM
This excellent resource includes accessibility checklists for software accessibility, web accessibility, Java accessibility, hardware accessibility, and more.
- 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.”
- Adobe Accessibility Blog
Regularly updated with informative articles on accessibility within Adobe products.
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.
- DO-IT Knowledge Base
Search hundreds of articles with answers to common questions, case studies, and promising practices regarding accessibility of technology, college, graduate school, and careers for individuals with disabilities.
- Technology and Universal Design
A collection of publications and videos on various aspects of procurement and development of accessible technology.
- World Wide Access: Accessible Web Design – Publication and accompanying video with general information on how to make web pages accessible to people with disabilities.
- Creating Video and Multimedia Products that are Accessible to People with Sensory Impairments – Publication on how to design video presentations that are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
- Web Accessibility: Guidelines for Administrators
Non-technical guidance for administrators on how to assure that websites in their organizations are accessible to everyone.
- Access to Technology: An Online Tutorial
An overview of assistive technology as well as the design of accessible electronic and information technology.
Guidelines and standards
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG)
This is the definitive set of web accessibility guidelines, from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
- Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA)
ARIA is a W3C specification, currently a working draft, that provides a way to make dynamic web applications and advanced user interface controls more accessible to people with disabilities.
- Section 508
This site from the U.S. Access Board features the full text of the Section 508 legislation, the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards and accompanying tutorials, and the latest draft of the soon-to-be-updated standards.
- The Web Standards Project
A self-described “grassroots coalition fighting for standards which ensure simple, affordable access to web technologies for all.”
- IMS Global Learning Consortium Accessibility Specification
IMS is working on an AccessForAll Meta-data Specification, which is intended to make it possible to identify resources that match a user’s stated preferences or needs. This builds on work by the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. IMS has also developed a set of Guidelines for Developing Accessible Learning Applications.
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.
- 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.
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.
This online web accessibility checker was developed by the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at the University of Toronto.
The W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 requires a specific contrast ratio between foreground and background colors. There are several tools available for measuring contrast:
- Colour Contrast Analyser
This free application, available in Windows and Mac versions, makes it easy to check foreground & background color combinations. Both versions include an eyedropper tool for easily grabbing a particular color from anywhere on the screen.
- WebAIM Color Contrast Checker
This handy online tool includes a feature to “lighten” or “darken” existing colors until you find a combination that meets WCAG 2.0 requirements.
Emulates websites as individual with various types of color blindness would perceive them.
Browser toolbars, add-ons and extensions
- Accessibility Inspector Extension for Firebug
Gives developers the ability to examine the accessibility features found in the Document Object Model (DOM) of web sites and web applications.
- Firefox Web Developer Toolbar
This highly useful toolbar is packed with features, including many that help developers to create websites that are accessible.
- 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.
A feature-rich accessibility plug-in that is fully integrated with Firebug.
- Internet Explorer Developer Tools. This toolkit is Microsoft’s answer to the Firefox web Developer Toolbar, is similarly feature-rich, and is built into IE 8 and higher (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 and 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. For additional information and resources related to ARIA see our ARIA for Web Applications page.
Also, the following tool enables developers to inspect the accessibility information that is being exposed by web browsers to the operating system through various accessibility APIs. This can be very helpful for gaining a deeper understanding of the accessibility of your website or application:
- Accessibility Viewer (aViewer)
works in Windows only
- Accessibility for Apple Developers
Apple’s site includes a variety of resources for iOS developers.
- Accessibility for Android Developers
Includes a variety of resources that help developers to use the Android framework to make applications more accessible.
- Adobe PhoneGap Accessibility
This post on the Adobe Accessibility Blog describes developments in PhoneGap accessibility and links to several tools and resources.
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.
NVDA (“Non-Visual Desktop Access”) is a free, open source screen reader. WebAIM publishes a handy guide on Using NVDA to Evaluate Web Accessibility.
VoiceOver is the screen reader that ships with Mac OS X, as well as iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPAd. WebAIM publishes a handy guide on Using VoiceOver to Evaluate Web Accessibility.
ChromeVox is Google’s screen reader that ships with Chrome OS. It is also available as an extension for the Google Chrome web browser.