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Check for General Accessibility Compliance Using Browser Extensions

The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”

— Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. 

 

The WCAG 2.1 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1) was created by the W3C, a private organization comprising of stakeholders from various sections of the society including government, industry, and consumer groups. It was initiated with the goal to improve accessibility guidance for three major groups: users with cognitive or learning disabilities, users with low vision, and users with disabilities on mobile devices. These guidelines also make Web content more usable by older individuals with changing abilities due to aging and often improve usability for users in general. This standard comes in three levels, A, AA, and AAA, however, website owners are only being held to levels A, and AA by the Department of Justice, the courts, and accessibility advocates. 

Some common disabilities that are considered by website accessibility planners include: 

  • Blind visitors 
  • Users with poor or partial sight 
  • Deaf or hearing-impaired users 
  • Users with dyslexia who struggle to understand long texts 
  • Users with cognitive or neurological impairments 
  • Users with a physical disability 

 

The guidelines fall into “four principles of accessibility.” Web content must be perceivable (and not just by sight) to users, operable so that all users may interact, understandable so everyone can comprehend the necessary information and operations, and robust enough that it’s usable by all technologies. The W3C provides the necessary guidelines and techniques to meet all 4 of these principles. They’ve even gone the extra mile to provide descriptions, examples, support notes, resources, and tests for each technique to assist in their successful implementation. You can find the guidelines at https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/ . 

When your website is designed to be accessible you benefit in other ways. Accessible websites impact the following: 

  • Mobile web design 
  • Usability 
  • SEO  

When your website is easy to use, frustration-free, and open to users with disabilities, it’s going to be a lot more attractive to everyone who visits. In addition, developing a WCAG compliant website can help you reach a wider audience, avoid legal action, and add to your social awareness profile. After all, access for everyone is the right thing to do.  

 

Audit & Review 

Ideally, website owners should perform a combination of automated WCAG audit scans and a manual review of all code for non-compliance detection. However, when that is not possible another option is to review your site using free-to-use web accessibility browser extensions.  

The World Wide Consortium Web (W3C) maintains an exhaustive list of Web accessibility evaluation tools at https://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tools/ , here at Virid we are partial to WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool. WAVE can be utilized by entering a web page URL at the WAVE home page, or by installing either the Firefox or Chrome browser extensions. These extensions allow testing of accessibility compliance directly in your browser and is very helpful when a website is under development and only available on a local system. 

However, some steps are more complicated and may require the help of a developer. Virid….. 

 

An accessible website may involve more work, but there’s no question that it’s worth it, for everyone. 

Topics: website audit, WCAG, accessibility

Written by John Barela