Just 2% of websites worldwide are fully accessible — for web developers, this number represents both obstacles and opportunities.
It’s a challenge because every time users are frustrated by the lack of accessible web options, prospective customers are lost. It’s an opportunity because understanding where sites aren’t living up to expectations makes it possible for developers to expand the site’s impact.
Not sure where to get started with accessibility? Check out our list of the 12 web accessibility resources every developer needs.
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What is web accessibility?
Web accessibility focuses on designing and developing websites and digital tools that are universally usable. This means building sites that accommodate hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability differences.
According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), there are four key principles of accessibility: Sites must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust (POUR).
12 Web Accessibility Resources Every Developer Needs
Improved web accessibility increases your potential customer base. It makes sense: The more people that can effectively access and use your website, the better your chances of capturing consumer interest and creating sales conversion.
But how do you get from knowledge to action? We’ve got you covered with 12 accessibility resources and tools.
1. The W3C WCAG Quick Reference Guide
This handy guide offers information for developers about how to satisfy each aspect of the POUR framework.
For example, under the “Perceivable” category, the WCAG Quick Reference guide suggests providing text alternatives for any non-text content so it can be converted into options such as larger print, audio speech, or symbols.
What we like: This free guide is comprehensive, providing a host of advice for different accessibility scenarios to help developers get their sites up to speed.
2. The W3C Guide to Video Accessibility
This WCAG guide speaks specifically to the use of video and audio media. For example, it covers the benefits of integrated video descriptions and offers suggestions on how to incorporate this approach before filming.
What we like: This resource includes advice for improving everything from video to audio to subtitles, captions, and transcripts, making it a great go-to for any accessibility questions.
3. Harvard Caption and Description Principles
This Harvard University resource helps developers and designers write better captions and video descriptions. It also offers suggestions for testing video and audio components to ensure they meet accessibility expectations before they go live.
What we like: The Harvard guide is simple and to the point, making it a great resource for developers looking to ensure captions and descriptions hit the mark.
4. The A11Y Project Checklist
This interactive checklist covers some of the most common accessibility concerns to help developers evaluate their sites before going live. For example, in the “Content” section of the checklist, the guide recommends using plain language that avoids figures of speech and complicated metaphors.
What we like: Each of the checklist sections can be further expanded to provide additional context and details.
5. Accessibility Checker
This tool lets developers input their website address and check for any accessibility issues against both ADA and WCAG guidelines. In addition, the Accessibility Checker offers instructions on how to fix these issues.
What we like: In addition to accessibility for the U.S., this tool also lets developers evaluate website accessibility in other countries such as Canada, France, Germany, and Australia.
6. Functional Accessibility Evaluator
The FAE also evaluates websites to determine accessibility against WCAG 2.0 guidelines. After registering for a free account, developers can assess multiple pages, get summary reports with problem details, and save these reports for later use.
What we like: Sites can be evaluated using both HTML5 and ARIA or HTML4 techniques, depending on developer needs.
7. Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE)
WAVE is a suite of tools that both identify potential WCAG issues and help developers consider the role of human evaluation in website assessment. WAVE browser extensions allow developers to quickly check their site using Chrome, Firefox, or Edge. For a one-time fee, website developers can also obtain an Accessibility Impact (AIM) report that includes both automated and manual test results.
What we like: Additionally, for-pay services such as the WAVE subscription API and its standalone testing engine can help developers continually evaluate sites for accessibility issues.
What we like: Sa11y is free and open-source, meaning developers can implement the tool at no cost and make whatever modifications they require.
LERA is designed to help developers write better accessibility reports by automating key testing tasks. With easy installation, granular reporting, and detailed reporting templates, it’s easy for teams to quickly evaluate sites.
What we like: Web-based, automated scanning lets developers create instant reports on accessibility issues.
SortSite is a one-click website testing tool used by federal agencies and large enterprises. It’s available as a desktop and web application for both Windows and Mac. With a single click, websites are checked against 1,300 standards-based accessibility and functional checkpoints.
What we like: Using WCAG and Section 508 guidelines, SortSite can automatically find and flag issues, such as flashing GIFs or untagged PDFs, that could cause accessibility challenges.
11. Perkins Access
Perkins Access offers for-pay website accessibility testing that includes both automated evaluations and assessments carried out by technology experts and users with disabilities. This provides developers with both the technical details and the user context necessary to make meaningful website changes.
What we like: Perkins Access includes a host of services, including pre-development design review, WCG accessibility audits, and ongoing accessibility support.
12. Color Contrast Analyser (CCA)
Color contrast plays a key role in visual accessibility. The CCA lets developers easily check the contrast ratio of two colors with a one-click tool. It then provides pass/fail results based on WCAG 2.1 guidelines.
What we like: The CCA includes a color blindness simulator and offers multiple ways to choose colors, including CSS color formats, RBG sliders, and a color picker tool.
Worth noting? No matter how many tools and technologies developers use to assess their websites, nothing replaces human interaction. Once sites have met basic accessibility criteria, developers should bring actual users into the loop to ensure accessibility efforts are working as intended.
How to Make Accessibility Attainable
Website accessibility doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, developers must make the effort and take the time to ensure that sites are usable and navigable by all users, all the time.
It’s no small task but equipped with the right resources and tools and with a focus on improving the user experience, it’s possible to create accessible sites that both increase accessibility and boost your prospective customer base.