Accessible Technology

Tools & Resources

This page provides a list of free tools and resources that support accessible web design and development. The list is a work in progress, and is updated regularly as tools and resources evolve.

Web and IT Accessibility Tutorials

Guidelines and Standards

Browsers’ Built-in Accessibility Tools

Modern versions of major browsers have their own accessibility tools built into their developer tools. For more information, see the documentation for the tools available in your preferred browser.

Third Party Accessibility Checkers & Browser Extensions

The following tools are listed alphabetically. In addition to those lists,  for the

  • Accessibility Bookmarklets
    This suite of bookmarklets can be used in any browser and work by visually highlighting specific accessibility features within a web page, including ARIA landmarks, headings, lists, and accessibility-related features of images and forms.
  • Accessibility Insights
    This robust accessibility checker and educational tool from Microsoft is available as an extension for Chrome or Edge, or as downloadable software for checking Windows applications.
  • AInspector WCAG Firefox Extension
    This extension was developed from the same team at the University of Illinois who created FAE (see the previous item).
  • axe
    This accessibility testing toolkit from Deque (accessibility consultancy) is available as an API that can be integrated into automated testing processes for web development. It’s also available as the axe Chrome Extension and axe for Android App.
  • Functional Accessibility Evaluator (FAE)
    This is an online web accessibility evaluator from the University of Illinois. FAE is capable of crawling a website and providing a summary report, plus reports for each individual page.
  • WAVE
    Developed by WebAIM, this online tool evaluates the accessibility of a web page and shows results using icons and indicators, embedded onto the original page. It’s available as a standalone website, or as the WAVE browser extension for both Chrome and Firefox.
  • Web Developer Extension for Firefox or Chrome.
    This highly useful toolbar from Chris Pederick is packed with features, including many that help check web pages for accessibility features.
  • Siteimprove Browser Extensions
    Siteimprove is a tool licensed by the UW for providing automated accessibility and quality assurance checking of university websites. For more information, see Siteimprove at UW. The browser extensions, available for both Chrome and Firefox, can be used by anyone, with or without a Siteimprove account.

Code Validators

Having valid code is a first step toward web accessibility and cross-browser compatibility. The following tools should be used regularly for checking the validity of your code.

  • HTML Validator – from the W3C
  • CSS Validator – from the W3C
  • HTML Tidy
    This is a software library that evaluates and cleans up HTML, automatically generating a reformatted (i.e., “tidied”) version. HTML Tidy is widely available, and is integrated into many web coding applications as documented on their website.
  • HTML Validator Browser Extensions – for Chrome and Firefox, based on HTML Tidy and OpenSG, includes accessibility checks that can be toggled on via the Options menu
  • WebVTT Validator – for validating timed text files to be used with HTML video, e.g., for captions, subtitles, chapters, and descriptions.

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.
  • WCAG Contrast Checker for Firefox
    This Firefox extension displays color contrast ratios in a sidebar, and flags the color combinations that fail WCAG contrast requirements at various levels.
  • 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. This functionality is also built into the WAVE Extension (see previous section).

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 Microsoft Accessibility and Apple Accessibility websites respectively.

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

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 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.

  • 30 Web Accessibility Tips
    Practical tips based on common web accessibility issues encountered in higher education, developed as part of the AccessComputing project, with funding from the National Science Foundation.
  • Accessible Technology
    A collection of publications and videos on various aspects of assistive and accessible technology.