Accessibility testing tools

Posted on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 by Steve Faulkner

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, mobile or desktop application.


Typically, but not solely, we conduct technical testing in reference to the following accessibility standards:

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:

Tools

Assistive Technology

  • 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)
  • ChromeVox (screen reader for Chrome and Chrome OS)
  • Talkback (screen reader for Android)
  • Zoomtext (Screen Magnifier for windows, demo version available)

More Tools

I asked around the TPG virtual office (Skype group chat) and people recommended some more notable and useful tools:

Notes:

  1. 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 user research and usability testing services. 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.
  2. The tools listed above are only the tools I use regularly, other accessibility engineers at TPG may use other tools.

About Steve Faulkner

Steve is the Senior Web Accessibility Consultant and Technical Director, TPG Europe. He joined The Paciello Group in 2006 and was previously a Senior Web Accessibility Consultant at Vision Australia. He is the creator and lead developer of the Web Accessibility Toolbar accessibility testing tool. Steve is a member of several groups, including the W3C HTML Working Group and the W3C Protocols and Formats Working Group. He is an editor of several specifications at the W3C including HTML 5.1, Using WAI-ARIA in HTML and HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives. He also develops and maintains HTML5accessibility

Comments

  1. Nice overview, thanks for sharing. In addition, I’ve been finding that a speech input application such as NaturallySpeaking is also very valuable for testing accessibility — it is relevant to a large number of users who are often overlooked and sometimes exposes accessibility problems that are overlooked when using screen reading/magnification apps.

  2. Good list. There are some new tools on there I’ll definitely check out.

    I’m sure you’re aware of this and your copy is licensed, but just for clarity you can’t use the demo of JAWS for accessibility testing. Freedom Scientific license the demo purely for evaluation of the software, not for development purposes.

    From their EULA:

    “For example, these demonstration or evaluation licenses are not permitted for purposes of development and testing of JAWS scripts, applications, HTML coding, or other Web Based code.”

  3. Hi Karl, yes I am aware, I am lucky enough to have a fully licensed copy. I am not advocating using JAWS against the EULA, if people do so, it is at their own risk.

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Having worked in accessibility for quite some time I can tell you that TPG's Steve Faulkner is one of the top technical accessibility talents, and leaders, in the field and I have no reservations in giving him my endorsement.

Richard Schwerdtfeger, Distinguished Engineer and CTO for Accessibility of IBM Software