Evaluating Accessibility

People today use a variety of platforms to access web content. It is important for the webpage designer to follow the appropriate web standards and guidelines to make this content accessible by all visitors. The number of guidelines and standards can be somewhat overwhelming. Luckily many types of automated web tools can help pinpoint problematic elements in a website. WAVE (web accessibility evaluation tool) is a great example of a tool that can evaluate the accessibility of a website.

To use WAVE, enter a URL in the input field on the homepage. The following page will display the website you entered to evaluate, along with icons and indicators about possible errors or problems. Red icons indicate accessibility errors, while green icons indicate accessibility features. I ran the IUB Libraries website through WAVE and the received the following summary:

wave3

Most of the errors were minor, but could be troublesome for those using screen readers. Each icon can be clicked for more information and documentation about the error or feature. WAVE is defaulted to evaluate the page with the CSS, but there is an option to only evaluate the HTML.

wave1 wave2

WAVE checks for problems based on Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 guidelines. Each error is explained, with reasoning for why it’s important and how to fix the problem. There is also a link to the official standards and guidelines for that particular problem. It is important to note that this tool cannot check for every error and it does not “certify” accessibility.