Imagine using a screen reader to skim the content of a website. The website, which isn’t built with accessibility in mind, doesn’t provide text alternatives for its images or use informative titles for links (which simply read “click here”). Now, imagine navigating a website with a low-vision impairment. It’s difficult to read small or low-contrast text barely distinguishable from its background.
According to Pew Research published in 2018, nine-in-ten American adults use the Internet. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported one out of four US adults live with a disability. Clearly, the web still has a ways to go in terms of making the Internet accessible to a significant amount of the community. The good news is, technology has been improving rapidly, and there are plenty of helpful tools to test websites for accessibility. Here are a handful:
NoCoffee is an extension that helps developers visualize what using a website is like for people with various vision impairments (a population upwards of 285 million people, according to NoCoffee).
NoCoffee helps test for the following:
- Low acuity (i.e., text that’s too small)
- Low contrast
- Visual snow, glare, ghosting, and cataracts
- Nystagmus (rapid, involuntary, oscillatory movement of the eyes)
- Obstructed visual fields
Funkify possesses a large selection of simulators for dyslexia, cognition, motor movements, and vision. It uses charming, alliterative personalities to represent people with different disabilities. For example, selecting Blurry Bianca applies a foggy filter to the webpage, and Trembling Trevor decreases the control you have over your mouse pointer.
NVDA and VoiceOver
NVDA and VoiceOver are screen readers, available for Windows and Mac respectively. They are free (with an option to donate to NVDA) and allow countless users to access the Internet. One of NVDA’s awesome features is that it’s portable, so users can use the screen reader on computers other than their own if they have a USB. As for VoiceOver, it comes preinstalled on Macs.
Axe sets itself apart from other accessibility testing tools with its adaptability. It works on all modern browsers; supports in-memory fixtures, static fixtures, integration tests and iframes of infinite depth; and is designed to work with whatever tools, frameworks, libraries and environments you have. It also automatically determines which rules to run based on the evaluation context. Axe maintains a reputation for generally not displaying false positives, which saves time for developers.
Tota11y is convenient for quickly testing common accessibility issues. It allows testers to pinpoint unhelpful link text, images without alt text, and inputs with missing labels. It comes with additional features, such as a screen reader wand to hover over elements to view them as a screen reader would. You can head to Tota11y’s website to test the tool yourself.
Attempting to experience the web from a different vantage point can be useful for designing accessibly. If you have concerns about the accessibility of your website, you can contact Eleven 11 for a full accessibility audit. Our experienced professionals will work earnestly to ensure your site upholds today’s web accessibility standards.