How do I test my website’s accessibility?

Biz Cook

Are you trying to create an accessible website, or improve your site’s accessibility…and don’t know where to start? Look no further!

My first step when doing an accessibility audit is to use the WAVE Evaluation tool, which is a chrome extension—download it here. The WAVE tool evaluates the content on your website for accessibility issues right within the browser. It even allows you to scan the content on password-protected, intranet, and dynamically generated webpages. After it scans your page, it lists all of the following items:

  • Errors (ex: missing alt text)
  • Alerts (ex: very small text)
  • Features (ex: good practice of using semantic HTML)
  • Structural Elements (ex: looks for Aria Elements, Navigation, Footer, Tabindex)
  • Contrast Errors (ex: calls out specific areas on the page that might prove difficult for some users to read)

Using the WAVE tool gives you a fairly clear picture of where you are at accessibility-wise, and can help steer you into the right direction to make changes. In the image below, you can see the type of errors, and features that the packers.com site has (overall it is very accessible, and is only missing 3 image alt tags).

wave tool on packers website example

The next step to test for accessibility is to go through the page using ChromeVox. ChromeVox is a free screen reader, that can also be added as a Chrome extension—download it here. While it doesn’t evaluate accessibility errors like the WAVE tool, it allows you to navigate the page using just a keyboard.  This type of testing is essential to make sure that all type of content can be read and is easily navigable without the use of a mouse, or even seeing the page (screen readers are typically used by folks with vision impairment)!

Use these resources to learn more about Chromevox:

One last quick thing: Make sure you test that accordions, select menus, tabbed menus, and hamburger menus can be open and closed with the use of a keyboard, otherwise you’ll have a lot of content that won’t be available to folks using screen readers.

Do you have accessibility tools you like to use that I didn’t highlight? List them below!

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