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 help@uw.edu.

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.

Informative websites

  • 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.”
  • 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.

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.

  • 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.

Color checkers

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.
  • VisCheck
    Emulates websites as individual with various types of color blindness would perceive them.

Browser toolbars, add-ons and extensions

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”.
  • 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.
  • FireEyes
    A feature-rich accessibility plug-in that is fully integrated with Firebug.

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 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:

Mobile development

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.

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