Accessibility testing tools
Here at The Paciello Group (TPG) we have a technical accessibility testing process which does not involve the use of automated tools. The technical audit results we provide to our clients are based solely on manual testing of a web site, web application or desktop application.
Typically, but not solely, we conduct technical testing in reference to the following accessibility standards:
- Web Content Accessibility Guidleines 2.0 (web sites and web applications)
- Section 508 1194.21- Software Applications and Operating Systems (desktop applications and web applications)
- Section 508 1194.22 – Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (web sites and web applications)
More recently we have been starting to carry out experimental testing in reference to the Section 508 Refresh Standards (Formal title: Draft Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines).
To aid us in our manual testing process we use a number of tools and assistive technologies, the following is not a complete list of the tools we use, but these are the tools I currently use on a daily basis:
- The Web Accessibility Toolbar (free add on for Internet Explorer)
- The Color Contrast Analyser (free desktop application for windows and Mac)
- aViewer (free desktop application for windows )
- Firebug (free Firefox extension)
- Dom Inspector (free Firefox extension)
- Inspect.exe (free desktop application for windows available as part of the Windows SDK)
- Accprobe (free open source desktop application)
- Accessibility Inspector (free Mac appplication)
- JAWS (Screen Reader for windows, demo version available)
- NVDA (Free open source Screen Reader for windows)
- VoiceOver (Built in Screen Reader, Mac desktop and iPhone/iPod)
- Zoomtext (Screen Magnifier for windows, demo version available)
I asked around the TPG virtual office (Skype group chat) and my colleagues Hans Hillen, Gez Lemon and Cedric Trevisan recommended some more notable and useful tools:
- aDesigner (free open source desktop application)
- Juicy Studio Tools (free online tools and Firefox extensions)
- Accessibility Evaluation Toolbar (free Firefox extension)
- Wave Toolbar (free Firefox extension)
- Web Developer (free Firefox extension)
- We do not use assistive technology in our technical testing to carry out user testing, we leave that up to actual users of assistive technology, who we work with as part of our accessibility user testing process. But as technical testers we do use assistive technology to evaluate the data we gather. Assistive technology is an essential part of the process for understanding how the accessibility information provided in user interfaces is conveyed to users.
- The tools listed above are only the tools I use regularly, other accessibility engineers at TPG may use other tools.