Several tools are available for testing the accessibility of your web site. However, it is important not to depend solely on these tools. The tools merely indicate potential problems with the site, which will still need to be checked "by hand." For example, an image tag that has "alt" text will get a positive report because all the accessibility tool checks for is the presence of alt text. What won't be indicated is the validity of that alt text. If it is simply a place holder, the alt text is meaningless, and the site isn't really accessible. It is also important to use more than one tool, as each tool picks up different things. Two examples of free online evaluation tools are listed below. Each of these tools is free to use and will only test one page at a time. Also, these tools evaluate pages based on the WCAG 1.0/2.0 and Section 508 guidelines.
- WAVE 4.0
- This will highlight various items on a web page that may or may not need fixing. For example, alt text is highlighted on a page, allowing the designer to determine whether any editing is required. The highlighted items are also connected to various icons, which can guide the designer in determining what is required.
- Cynthia Says
- This tool will identify accessibility issues in the content of a web site and present them in a table.
There are several other tools available – both free or for sale. Those for sale usually are able to check entire sites at once, rather than a page at a time. Always remember that using an evaluation tool is only the first step in evaluating a site for accessibility – human fact checking is always required, as well.
More information about the various evaluation tools may be found at the Web Accessibility Initiative's Evaluation Tools Overview page.
You may also use simulators to test the accessibility of a web site. These items include the following:
- Vischeck's color-blindness simulator
- This tool allows a site to be viewed as users with various types of colorblindness would see it.
- Fangs screen reader simulator
- This simulator presents the text of a web site in the format in which a screen reader would read it. Note that this tool only provides an example of what a screen reader might interpret; other modern screen readers, such as JAWS, may read a site differently. It is best to test sites with a real screen reader at some point, but Fangs will still give you some idea of how the site will work.
- Juicy Studio's Readability Test
- This tool helps determine the readability of a site's content. The reading level algorithms used by this test are only a rough guideline, but they can still provide a useful indication of how readable the content will be, depending on the intended audience.
- also has several simulators which demonstrate the possible problems users with various disabilities may encounter when using the web, including those with visual disabilities, dyslexia or cognitive disabilities.