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How to judge a website's accessibility level

Testing Web Accessibility: A how to video guide (46s)

 

How do you actually find out whether a site has accessibility problems?

You cannot assume that if no complaints have been received there are no problems. Many people will simply give up and go somewhere else if there are accessibility problems. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to help you assess the level of accessibility, which do not require in-depth understanding of web design or accessibility issues. It may be impractical to test every page, but make sure you check the Home page plus as many high traffic pages as possible.

Tips include:

Get a disabled person to look at the site

If you know someone with a disability which might prevent them accessing information in the site, ask them to browse the site, and tell you of any problems. For example, visually impaired people (blind, colour blind, short or long sighted) and dyslexic users.

 

View the site through a text browser

Use a text browser to browse your site. Webbie is a free text browser available at: http://www.webbie.org.uk/index.htm. This will show you problems such as those caused by images with no alternative text or confusing navigation systems.

 

View the site through a screen reader

Browse the site using a screen reader. You can download JAWS screen reader for a free 30 day trail from: http://www.freedomscientific.com/products/fs/jaws-product-page.asp. Alternatively, try reading a web page out loud. Ask yourself - would it make sense if you were reading it to someone who could hear you but could not see the site?

 

Look at the site under different conditions

Test your site under various conditions to see if there are any problems:

  • graphics not loaded,
  • scripts and style sheets turned off,
  • using different web browsers (e.g. Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari),
  • without using a mouse,
  • using different devices (e.g. full screen computer, handheld device, mobile phone).

 

Check with Automatic Validation Tools Wave tool logo

There are a number of web based tools which can provide you with information on potential accessibility problems.

These include The Wave tool from Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology.

 

Commission an Accessibility Audit

Commissioning an expert accessibility audit will catch issues you may miss yourself. It will provide a comprehensive audit of the site, complete with detailed recommendations for upgrading the accessibility level. The Centre for Inclusive Technology(CFIT) http://www.cfit.ie/ provide audits.

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Last updated 28 September 2016 by Trinity Inclusive Curriculum (Email).