100 Killer Web Accessibility Resources: Blogs, Forums and Tutorials

Update November 13, 2012: This article was originally posted May 1, 2008. Since then, it has been our most popular article here at WHdb.com. In light of this, we have decided to give this article an update for 2012: we cleaned out some obsolete links and added a New for 2012 section. Enjoy!

In 2006, a blind student filed suit against the online retail Target presence because he couldn’t gain access to the Web site. The code and layout prohibited him from entry. That lawsuit didn’t go away–eventually, Target’s appeal was denied in a Baltimore court, and sentiment turned against this retail giant in its bid to qualify for exemption from Web site accessibility.

Web accessibilityThe reason behind this lack of goodwill toward Target is that Web site accessibility is a human rights issue as well as a commercial compliance issue. In 2010, the British Standards Institution produced BS 8878, a Web accessibility guide for UK businesses and organizations to follow. While this document pertains only to UK businesses, the change in attitude wrought by these guidelines has spread globally. In other words, if business Web sites don’t begin to follow accessibility guidelines now, a worldwide rush may be on to conform to these standards within the next few years or possibly face penalties for failure to comply.

Why wait? If you already lean toward the idea that accessible sites are good for humanity as well as for business, then this list will provide plenty of reference materials for you. If you don’t have a clue about the issues that surround Web site accessibility, then this list will help you to become well acquainted with the issues involved in this movement. Before you go out and purchase that web hosting plan and install WordPress or Drupal, spend a bit of time to learn how to make a future (or even existing) site more accessible to all.

The categories listed below are in alphabetical order, as are the sites listed within those categories. The numbers are for convenience, and they mean nothing as to the quality or preference of the sites listed below.

New for 2012 | Accessibility Sites | Blind and Partial Sight Users | Color Blindness | Deaf Users | Epilepsy | Forums/Mailing Lists | Readability | Simulators | Tools | Tutorials | Validation – Accessibility | Validation – Other | Bonus Sites

New for 2012

Although originally published in May 2008, we updated this article in November 2012 with these 10 new resources.

  1. About Web AccessibilityAbout Web Accessibility: Developed by Kim Loop in 2009, this site offers tips on web standards, accessibility legal requirements, how to make your site accessible, and more.
  2. Accessibility in Tomorrow's WebAccessibility in Tomorrow’s Web: From the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), this tutorial teaches the basics of how people with disabilities use the Web, and includes examples of accessibility design challenges and coding best practices.
  3. Access MattersAccess Matters: This blog delivers the latest information on web accessibility. Their mission is to discuss not only how web accessibility relates to those who are disabled, but also how it relates to all web users, regardless of ability.
  4. Guild of Accessible Web DesignersGuild of Accessible Web Designers: GAWDS is an association of web designers and developers who seek to promote web accessibility.
  5. Marco's Accessibility BlogMarco’s accessibility blog: A champion for web accessibility, Marco’s blog features musings, tips and tricks about the accessible software world. Marco is a member of the accessibility team at Mozilla.
  6. Readability Test ToolReadability Test Tool: Easily test the readability of any web site by URI, direct input, or referrer.
  7. SSB BART GroupSSB BART Group: The folks at SSB BART deliver “web accessibility on demand” through their Accessibility Management Platform (AMP), a tool that can be used to test for web accessibility against more than 900 different conformance criteria, including those from Section 508 and WCAG.
  8. Web Accessibility Conference CalendarWeb Accessibility Conference Calendar: Lanyrd presents a calendar of all past and upcoming web accessibility conferences. Attend one to learn more about web accessibility.
  9. Web Accessibility for Section 508 by Jim ThatcherWeb Accessibility for Section 508 by Jim Thatcher: One of the first PhDs ever in computer science (1963) and former employee of the IBM Web Accessibility Center in Austin, Jim Thatcher expounds on Section 508 and what it means for web accessibility on his consulting web site.
  10. Yahoo! AccessibilityYahoo! Accessibility: From Yahoo!’s accessibility lab, this blog is updated with stories that reflect the experiences of individuals with disabilities and how they interact with family, friends, and colleagues.

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Accessibility Sites

The following sites contain tutorials, tools and guidelines to follow to reach your goals as a Webmaster steeped in accessibility ethos. These sites will cover every known accessibility issue, including mobility impairment and cognitive difficulties. Although some of the tools within these sites also are mentioned below, be sure to browse through an entire site to find simulators, tests, validators and more.

  1. AccessifyAccessify.com: Visit this Web site to gain access to accessibility tools such as the table and form builder, Dreamweaver 4 modifications, and the form element generator. This little library will help you to build accessibility strength in any site you develop. Before you play with the tools, you might read some of the articles and tutorials located on this site, too.
  2. Juicy StudioJuicy Studio: This link will take you to the JuicyStudios “services” page, where Webmasters and others can find six tools hosted by this site. Among them you’ll discover the readability test that analyses a Web page to determine how readable it is, and the Colour Contrast Analyser that tests whether the contrast between the background and the foreground is sufficient. Juicy Studio also provides links to other accessibility tools that users can download, including Firefox extensions. External tools linked to this site include Jens Meiert’s collection of validators. You might visit the Juicy Blog as well to stay on top of news about best practices for web developers.
  3. Standards SchmandardsStandards Schmandards: Peter Krantz works diligently on projects designed to make the Web more accessible. Some of his activities include work on Fangs, a screen reader emulator (Firefox Extension), and RAAKT, the Ruby Accessibility Analysis Kit. Krantz’s attitude is that once Web accessibility is no longer an issue, then the businesses that charge for the ability to make those Web sites accessible can be eliminated. Browse around to realize the full extent of the tools, articles, and comments offered here.
  4. Viewable with Any BrowserViewable with Any Browser: The campaign behind this site is to support the use of one universal means to view Web pages, rather than to create Web sites specifically for one browser. The author has created an Accessible Design Guide, and provides example letters to send to Web designers who design specifically for one browser only.
  5. Web Accessibility InitiativeWAI: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) supports the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), including the WAI-ARIA, or the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite. The latter tool defines a way to make Web content and Web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. Readers can learn about accessibility initiatives from the WAI and use tools provided by the WAI-ARIA. Of special note are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which provide the basis for many accessibility tools available today.
  6. WebAIMWebAIM: Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM) aims to expand the Web’s potential for people with disabilities, so they provide a guide to Web accessibility and numerous evaluation tools and papers on design and delivery. A good portion of their content is online and freely available, but they also offer tools that, for a reasonable price, can help businesses and individuals gain a leg up on a site’s accessibility problems. The site is active in incorporating developers to beta test new accessibility tools such as their WAVE 4.0, a web accessibility evaluation tool that exposes errors and highlights content where accessibility considerations require human judgment.

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Blindness/Partial Sight

Web users who have no sight may utilize a screen reader that reads Web page content HTML back to them. Users with partial or poor site may need to change text sizes on Web pages to see the content. The following links either will explain some of this information in fuller detail or provide tools that you can use to accommodate these users, which may include elderly Web surfers.

  1. Blindness Resource CenterBlindness Resource Center: Created and maintained by the New York Institute for Special Education, this site provides insight into every issue and tool that a Webmaster would need to know regarding blindness.
  2. Lighthouse InternationalAccessibility Guidelines for the Web Designer: Lighthouse International provides a set of guidelines for designers to help them render type legible for users who suffer from impaired vision. They also provide a tutorial with simulations that explains what the world looks like to people with partial vision.
  3. American Foundation for the BlindCreating Accessible Websites: AFB: This site is provided by the American Foundation for the Blind, and it provides a run down on all the issues that blind users encounter when using the Web. They include tips and tricks for Webmasters to use to help blind readers “read” body copy on a site.
  4. Let Users Control Font Size: Jakob NielsenLet Users Control Font Size: Usability expert Jakob Nielsen explains why Webmasters need to allow users the ability to control font sizes. Check the information at the bottom of the page for further information.
  5. Screen MagnifiersScreen Magnifiers: If you can’t manage to change text size for readers with poor vision, offer the use of this link so they can use a text magnifier geared specifically to the type of browser they may use.
  6. Seven Screen Reader Usability TipsSeven Screen Reader Usability Tips: Even if your site is accessible to screen reader users, its usability could be so poor that they needn’t have bothered stooping by in the first place. Trenton Moss wrote this article for SitePoint that illustrates some basic and logical steps to follow to help users who utilize screen readers.
  7. TypeTesterTypeTester: This tool, created by Marko Dugonjic’, a Web professional from Croatia, created this tool based upon the font size of 10px, which means 1em is 10px, 1.2em is 12px and so on. You can read more about the 10px base font ‘rule,’ which allows browsers to objectify type based upon em sizes, at clagnut.
  8. Vision AustraliaVision Australia: This site will help readers understand some issues that face blind readers who use the Web. Additionally, Webmasters and others can use Vision Australia’s Web Accessibility Toolbar and their Colour Contrast Analyzer for Web Pages.

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Color Blindness

According to Trenton Moss in his A List Apart article entitled, “What is Web Accessibility?“, it is estimated that one in 12 men and one in 200 women have some form of color blindness. You can check how different strains of color blindness affect how sites appear to colorblind users through any one of the tools listed below:

  1. Accessibility Color WheelAccessibility Color Wheel: This tool simulates three kinds of color blindness and it shows the result of W3C algorithms that compute chosen color contrast and difference of brightness. The accessibility color wheel shows if the color pair is “good” from an accessibility point of view.
  2. Colorblind Web Page FilterColorblind Web Page Filter: Several filters are used in this tool to manipulate images and other file types to see how they may appear for color-blind users. Combined with Color Lab, these tools will help you reach your color accessibility goals. The latter tool allows you to select colors and see how they appear next to one another, and in various foreground/background combinations.
  3. Color Scheme DesignerColor Scheme Designer: Webmasters can use this tool to generator color schemes and palettes to create good-looking and well balanced and harmonic web pages. Once those schemes have been chosen, you can check how they appear to individuals who have color blindness by using the drop down menu at lower left.
  4. Color Theory for the Color-BlindColor Theory for the Color-Blind: Mario Parisé is a colorblind Web designer who provides information on how to make your Web site more accessible through color theory. He explains colorblindness and uses examples to show how to re-think your Web colors.
  5. Color Contrast AnalyserColour Contrast Analyser: It is primarily a tool for checking foreground & background colour combinations to determine if they provide good colour visibility. It also contains functionality to create simulations of certain visual conditions such as colour blindness.
  6. nColornColor: This explanation page provided by YoYo Design doesn’t do justice to the vision you’ll experience when you click on the link to their nColor Color Picker. This tool demands a small learning curve, but it will help you understand what colors are useful for various forms of color blindness; additionally, it also provides tools to show contrast and text size comparisons.
  7. VisolveVisolve: Visolve is software that transforms the computer display colors into colors for various people with color blindness. One of its aims is to help people with color blindness guess a normal color. In addition to the color transformation, it provides the following two functions: the filtering darkens all colors other than the specified color, and the hatching draws different hatch patterns depending on color (Windows and Mac OS X).

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Deaf Users

Many deaf users can read, so what’s the accessibility issue here? Mainly, it has to do with the inability to hear video. Designers often don’t take into account the fact that some viewers may not be able to hear the sound. The links below will help you to understand what you might need to do to make your site more accessible to deaf users.

  1. Accessible Design for the DeafAccessible Design for the Deaf: Joe Dolson is a professional Web designer who focuses on accessibility and Web standards. He writes about deafness and Web issues in this article, where he explains that those who are deaf from birth may not actually read written English at an age-appropriate level. Although he doesn’t provide solutions, this is an interesting take that rounds out understanding about deafness and the Web.
  2. Accessible Streaming ContentAccessible Streaming Content: Dr. Dobbs provides a concise article about the issues, solutions, and benefits surrounding streaming content and its accessibility to deaf Web users. Although this article is dated 2002, it tackles many issues that remain problematic today.
  3. Deaf & Hearing-ImpairedDeaf & Hearing-Impaired: “Providing accessibility means removing barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in substantial life activities, including the use of services, products, and information.” This Web page provides some information that is directed expressly to Web designers about users who are hearing impaired.
  4. Described and Captioned Media ProgramDescribed and Captioned Media Program: The U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of the Deaf supports the DCMP. DCMP’s mission is to promote and provide equal access to communication and learning for students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. There is no cost for registration and no user fees for Level 1 or Level 2 Membership, and nonmembers can browse the site to learn more about this program.
  5. Proud GeekProud Geek – Deafness: The Proud Geek provides a category about deafness topics. The items that would most interest Webmasters would be the tutorials on how to caption videos. You’ll currently find a total of seven lessons here about various forms of captioning that will help to make any videos that you add to your site more accessible.
  6. Web Captioning and EducationWeb Captioning and Education: The National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE) monitors and promotes electronically-mediated distance education policies and practices that enhance the lives of people with disabilities and their families. In this particular article, NCDAE talks about current technologies available for captioning and other techniques that might be used for accessibility. Take advantage of the links offered at the bottom of that page to learn more about captioning from other writers.

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Epilepsy

Photosensitive seizures can be provoked by certain types of flashing in Web or computer content, including mouseovers that cause large areas of the screen to flash. As Web content becomes more dynamic and media-rich, it is important to minimize risk of visually induced seizures. Content to consider includes bright and rapid flashes, especially red flash, and some spatial patterns. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 provides recommendations for using content safely.

  1. Epilepsy ActionEpilepsy Action: This UK epilepsy Web site provides information about photosensitive epilepsy in an easy-to-understand format. Look to the menu at top right to learn about Web problems and solutions.
  2. Photosensitive EpilepsyPhotosensitive Epilepsy: This Google book project was originally written by Graham F. A. Harding and Peter M. Jeavons. Although you won’t have access to the whole book, there is plenty of information here to give you a well-rounded look at this disability.
  3. Photosensitive Epilepsy Analysis ToolPhotosensitive Epilepsy Analysis Tool (PEAT): PEAT is a free downloadable tool made available from the Trace Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This tool allows Web content to be tested for compliance with these guidelines. The tool creates a recording of a computer monitor as you use it. With this screen capture as input, PEAT conducts luminance flash and red flash evaluations to determine risk of seizure-provoking content. The analysis uses algorithms developed specifically for web and computer applications by the Trace Center, Dr. Graham Harding, and Cambridge Research Systems working together, and is based on Dr. Harding’s extensive research on photosensitive seizure disorders.

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Forums/Mailing Lists

The following forums and mailing lists deal exclusively with accessibility and usability issues.

  1. Accessify ForumAccessify Forum: This forum is open to peruse and to find answers to your accessibility questions, and it’s part of the Accessify site listed previously under “Accessibility Sites” above. You must register if you want to join in on the discussions or to ask a question.
  2. Ubuntu ForumsAssistive Technology and Accessibility Discussions: This thread on the Ubuntu forums focuses on software that enables or helps people with various disabilities or impairments (mobility, visual, hearing, cognitive, etc.) to use the computer. You must register to join in on the discussions.
  3. Game Accessibility ForumGame Accessibility Forum: This forum tackles issues that surround various disabilities and gaming on the Internet. You must register to participate. This forum is part of the Game Accessibility project, a research project that focuses on the accessibility of electronic games for gamers with disabilities.
  4. Cre8asite ForumsUsability and Accessibility: Cre8asiteForums provides a new thread about usability and accessibility that seems very active. Register to participate in this thread and many others at this site.
  5. Viewable with Any BrowserViewable with Any Browser Forums: This forum is dedicated to Web site design and accessibility, two issues that are inseparable for this group (site listed above in “Accessibility Sites”). While the forum doesn’t seem large, click on a link to view the dozens of threads about Web development issues.
  6. WAI Interest GroupWAI IG Mailing List: This list is connected to the WAI site listed under “Accessibility Sites” above. Participation in WAI IG is by self-subscription. Searchable archives are open to public viewing.
  7. WebAIM Discussion ListWeb Accessibility E-mail Discussion List: This list is connected to the WebAim site listed under “Accessibility Sites” above. This mailing list is for anyone interested in discussing Web accessibility issues. Individuals from all organizations and specialties are encouraged to join. Use the form provided on that linked page to join. This list also maintains searchable archives that are open to public view.

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Readability

The sites listed below focus on body copy and how that copy is understood by readers at different education/understanding levels. One resource listed below provides links that deal with text sizes, colors, and other factors that may alter how a reader comprehends your body copy as well.

  1. Readability ScoresReadability Scores: This tool allows users to input a URL to check for Web page copy complexity. Test results will indicate readability grades, sentence information, word usage, and sentence beginnings so that you can tweak the copy to upgrade or downgrade readability according to users’ capabilities. You also can compare your site scores against other popular sites such as the New York Times and Nickelodean.
  2. Reading Effectiveness ToolReading Effectiveness Tool: The tool helps to to find out if a draft manuscript is at the right Grade Reading Level for the intended audience, by asking a series of questions. It is based on the Simple Measure Of Gobbledegook (SMOG) readability formula.
  3. Style and DictionStyle and Diction: Diction identifies wordy and commonly misused phrases. Style analyses surface characteristics of a document, including sentence length and other readability measures.

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Simulators

Don’t know what it’s like to be colorblind? What would you do if you lost your sight? The following links lead to various simulators that can help you to understand different disabilities (if you want to simulate deafness, merely turn the sound off on your computer and try to watch an instructional video).

  1. University of Wisconsin Accessibility Videos & PodcastsAccessibility Videos and Podcasts: These tools, produced and presented by the University of Wisconsin at Madison, show how various users gain access to the Web. Each tutorial explains how the person uses the Web and it also explains various tools, such as screen readers, magnification, and more. You can use this site along with the W3C’s narratives that detail how disabled individuals use the Web for more insight. While you’re at the UW-M site, you might take advantage of their complete tutorials on Web accessibility.
  2. alphaWorks aDesigneraDesigner: The aDesigner is a disability simulator that helps Web designers ensure that their pages are accessible and usable by the visually impaired. Web developers can use aDesigner to test the accessibility and usability of Web pages for low-vision and blind people. The tool looks at such elements as the degree of color contrast on the page, the ability of users to change the font size, the appropriateness of alternate text for images, and the availability of links in the page to promote navigability. The tool also checks the pages’ compliance with accessibility guidelines.
  3. Colorblind SimulatorColorblind Simulator: Click the top link to view images within different colorblindness boundaries.
  4. Lynx ViewerLynx Viewer: The Lynx Viewer allows webmasters to see what their pages will look like when viewed with Lynx, a text-mode web browser. It is also presumably, how search engines see your site. In addition to that, it can help determine if web pages are accessible to the vision impaired. No restrictions of use.
  5. VischeckVischeck: Vischeck provides a way to show how the Web might look to someone who is color blind. You can try Vischeck online – either run Vischeck on your own image files or run Vischeck on a web page. You also can download programs to run on your own computer. This simulator won’t work with many newer sites, so take a screenshot of your site and upload it and then run that URL through the simulator.
  6. WebAIM Distractibility SimulationWebAIM Distractibility Simulation: This simulation demonstrates how difficult it can be to navigate a simple Web site for someone who suffers from a cognitive disability. “This is not a true simulation of a cognitive disability. Rather, it is a simulation of the effects of cognitive overload.”

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Tools

The tools listed below come in a wide assortment. You’ll find downloads, extensions, add-ons, plug-ins, and online tools that don’t require anything but the input of the domain’s Uniform Resource Locater (URL). You’ll also find a wide variety of tools that deal with every known disability. While some of the sites listed below are commercial efforts, the tools that they provide are free to use.

  1. Access KeysAccess Keys: Although this is a commercial site, the concept behind their awards is a great tool for users to learn about accessibility topics. Access Keys checks websites and offers awards based upon the site’s accessibility and usability. Beyond this, Access Keys also provides AccessColor, a test for color contrast and color brightness between the foreground and background of all elements in the DOM to make sure that the contrast is high enough for people with visual impairments.
  2. DIYDIY: The commercial site, Etre, offers three tools to help Webmasters determine Web site compliance, color blindness, and color contrast. Of these tools, the compliance test is very quick and provides a quick rundown of the problems contained within a given site page. You’ll need to find solutions for those problems elsewhere (try WAI listed below or a search).
  3. iCITAFirefox Accessibility Extension: This extension from the Illinois Center for Information Technology and Web Accessibility adds features to Mozilla or Firefox to make it easier for people with disabilities to view and navigate web content based on the structural markup used to create the web page. The Mozilla/Firefox accessibility extension can be used directly by everyone to navigate the structure of a HTML web resource. It can be used by authors to check their structural markup to make sure it matches the actual content structure of the resource.
  4. FujitsuFujitsu: This is a commercial site, but they offer free tools and examples about accessibility for anyone who cares to use them on Windows or Mac OS X. Try out their Web Accessibility Inspector, their Color Selector, or their Color Doctor (Windows only) downloads for help in creating accessible sites.
  5. HiSoftwareHiSoftware: The best known tool within HiSoftware’s accessibility Web site is Cynthia Says, a joint Education and Outreach project of HiSoftware, ICDRI, and the Internet Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter. It is designed to identify errors in Web content related to Section 508 standards and/or the WCAG guidelines – but only one page at a time. Despite this boundary, Webmasters can learn much about accessibility guidelines through this tool. HiSoftware also maintains several other tools that you can access through their “Accessibility” link on the homepage, including their AccMonitor™ that is designed to provide Web site accessibility management.
  6. imergoimergo: imergo is a standards compliance and quality assurance tool targeted to industrial Internet portals from the public and private sector. It offers: Reliable persistence backend: rules, evaluated documents and project configuration files are stored in a RDBMS database; Project management: project progress can be monitored in combination with the implemented reporting capabilities; Large scale validation of XML and (X)HTML documents for big Internet portals. The tool validates also CSS (Cascading Style Sheets); Powerful, flexible and configurable crawler; Identification of broken links; Easy implementation and configuration of evaluation rules, flexible composition of evaluation rule-sets; Integration into Content Management Systems. This demo is provided as-is and as a service to the community of Web developers. It doesn’t contain the full range of capabilities in the commercial versions.
  7. NCAMNational Center for Accessible Media: The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media offers numerous tools to help all mediums gain a sense of accessibility. You can go to the end of this linked page and look at Web Access, or you can browse through all the information to get a sense of where accessibility issues stand across the board. Some tools that NCAM offer include CC for Flash, a free tool that developers can add to their Flash projects to provide the display of searchable, multi-language captions that are synchronized to Flash video, animation, or sound objects. The component works in the following authoring environments: Flash MX 2004, Flash 8, and Flash CS3 (ActionScript 2.0 projects only). They also provide the ccMP3Player and the ccPlayer. The first is a free Flash-based MP3 player that can be embedded in Web pages to play back MP3 audio files along with their corresponding captions. ccMP3Player is viewable in browsers containing the Flash Player 8 (or higher) plug-in. ccPlayer is a free Flash video player that can be embedded in Web pages in order to display Flash video along with its corresponding captions. ccPlayer is viewable in browsers containing the Flash Player 8 (or higher) plug-in.
  8. NetMechanicNetMechanic: Using Keynote NetMechanic services you can improve the functional integrity of your Web site and optimize your site to be reached by more potential customers.
  9. WAT-CWAT-C: The Web Accessibility Tools Consortium [WAT-C] provides a collection of free tools to assist both developers and designers in the development and testing of accessible web content. You may see some of the sites listed here as partners in this effort, and you’ll also discover sites that provide more tools beyond what we could list here. The home page lists the tools available, but browse through the site to find more information about upcoming possibilities.
  10. Web Developer ExtensionWeb Developer Extension: The Web Developer extension adds a menu and a toolbar to the browser with various web developer tools. It is designed for Firefox, Flock, Mozilla and Seamonkey, and will run on any platform that these browsers support including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

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Tutorials

The following tutorials provide information about the guidelines that Webmasters need to follow in certain circumstances. Some sites also provide step-by-step tools that will help Webmasters to reach those goals. Of particular note are Section 508, which represents the U.S. standards for government sites, and the BS 8878, which is the guideline for UK business Web sites to follow. Even if your site doesn’t fit into those two niches, you can learn from their expectations.

  1. A List ApartA List Apart: This link will take you to the “topic” section where you can learn more about how to create accessible and usable code. Jeffrey Zeldman, publisher, is well known for his role as an accessibility advocate.
  2. Adobe Accessibility Resource CenterAdobe Accessibility Resource Center: Webmasters can learn about how to make PDF files and Flash sites more accessible through Adobe’s tutorials. Adobe also explains Section 508 (see #72) and answers questions on how to create an accessible Web site.
  3. Building Accessible WebsitesBuilding Accessible Websites: This site provides a ‘serialization’ of the Web accessibility book by the same name written by Joe Clark. The information provided here offers an updated perspective on that book, with notes as to why these updates are necessary.
  4. GNOME AccessibilityGNOME Accessibility: The GNOME Accessibility Project is free software, licensed under LGPL (Lesser General Public License). Developers can find several ongoing projects at this site, along with tutorials, documentation, and downloads.
  5. KnowbilityKnowbility: A leader in accessible IT since 1998, Knowbility is a non-profit organization that offers training courses, articles, and group forums focused on improving web accessibility.
  6. Section508.govSection 508: This is the 1998 Amendment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and it is somewhat similar to the BS 8878; however, it applies only to government sites. It was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals.
  7. W3C Web Content Accessibility GuidelinesW3C: The World Wide Web Consortium provides guidelines on how to create accessible HTML and CSS documents, along with the checklist of checkpoints that conform to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0).
  8. W3C CheckpointsW3C Checkpoints: Some readers have complained that the W3C standards are too difficult to understand. With that said, many sites will help readers to fully comprehend the information contained at W3C. This site demonstrates the W3C checkpoints and how to resolve them. Each checkpoint is listed with a link to a brief and concise explanation and solutions for each issue. This site is provided by the Treasury Board of Canada.
  9. Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory ComplianceWeb Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance: Although you won’t have access to the whole book, you can learn much from the pages you can read at Google Books. Written by Jim Thatcher, this book defines the tools and code that will make accessible sites. This book is great for the developer and designer, but it’s also good for the business owner who wants to understand why that business site should be accessible to anyone.
  10. VORD Web Accessibility GuideWeb Accessibility Guide: Vord Web Design (now defunct) offers a logical and well-thought out procedure for Web designers to follow when trying to build accessible sites. This is such an easy-to-use guide that you might print it out to use when perusing the other sites mentioned here. Visit the homepage for more articles about accessibility, usability, and SEO practices.
  11. Webcredible AccessibilityWebcredible Accessibility: This commercial UK site provides numerous articles about accessibility. This link will lead you directly to the search page for accessibility so you can browse through their articles and tutorials.

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Validation – Accessibility

The following list of validation tools may include HTML validation as well as a varying range of tools to grade a site on accessibility. Most, if not all, of these tools rely on the W3C standards and/or Section 508 guidelines. Most of these validators can be used straight from the Web page link. Others, like the ACC listed immediately below, are downloads. Each tool is different, so you might take time to check them all out and decide on one or two that you might feel comfortable with using for current and future Web projects.

  1. AccAcc – an Accessibility Evaluator: This Firefox Extension, which is capable of evaluating and reporting some accessibility criteria, is a download that reveals vast possibilities of browser-based Web site accessibility evaluation. Although the validator includes basic explicit tests for HTML, it also examines visual layout implementation, scalability, tests nested layout tables, and compares navigation to previous pages.
  2. Access ValetAccess Valet: Access Valet is a core Site Valet tool, designed to help ensure accessibility by analysing markup for conformance specifically to the WCAG and Section 508. The level of detail and choice of report formats makes this an exceptionally powerful developer tool. AccessValet Level 1 reports for developers are generated by an automatic analysis of markup, and highlight possible accessibility problems. Warnings are shown where they arise in the (normalized) markup, and include links to the exact guidelines that are violated.
  3. Accessibility WizardAccessibility Wizard: This tool breaks down the WAI checkpoints into individual tasks for a development team. A web client that supports the Flash 6 (or higher) plugin is the minimum requirement to use the wizard.
  4. Bobby WorldWide Web Accessibility ToolBobby WorldWide Web Accessibility Tool: This validation tool is designed to aid webmasters in creating standard compliant web sites and increase the accessibility degree of a website. Bobby tests web pages using the guidelines established by the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Access Initiative (WAI), as well as Section 508 guidelines. Be sure to check out their list of articles at the bottom of this linked page.
  5. EvalAccessEvalAccess: EvalAccess 2.0 is an on-line web accessibility evaluation tool which has been developed using Web Service technology. This tool provides different methods for evaluating web accessibility, including evaluation of a single Web page, evaluation of an entire site and evaluation of HTML mark-up. It returns a complete report of errors as a result of the evaluation.
  6. FAEFunctional Accessibility Evaluator: The Functional Accessibility Evaluator analyzes web resources for markup that is consistent with the use of DRES/CITES HTML best practices for development of functionally accessible web resources and resources that support interoperability. These best practices are not a new standard, but rather a statement of techniques for implementation of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and Section 508 standards.
  7. TAWTAWOnline: TAW (Web Accessibility Test) is an online tool for the accessibility analysis of Web sites based on the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0), which provides a useful in-page feedback. Its goal is to analyze the level of accessibility in the design and development of Web pages to allow access for all, regardless of their specific characteristics.
  8. Testing Accessibility with StyleTesting Accessibility with Style: A web-based system that performs some automated WCAG 1.0 tests and then guides the user through tests which need to be done or confirmed manually. Hera is multilingual (you can change on the fly), and a translation interface is available to easily add new languages. The system is written in PHP and is available for adaptation under the GPL open-source license.
  9. Total ValidatorTotal Validator: Total Validator in a five-in-one validation tool that comprises an HTML validator, an accessibility validator, a spell checker, a broken link checker, and an ability to take screenshots with different browsers on different platforms.
  10. WAEXWAEX online: WAEX is a Web Accessibility Evaluator in a single XSLT file used to generate accessibility reports. These reports include constraint evaluation of the XHTML specification not expressed or expressible in the DTD/Schema of XHTML.
  11. IDI Web Accessibility CheckerIDI Web Accessibility Checker: One way to validate whether a site is accessible is to use this tool. When you enter the URL in the entry field on this page and select the “Check it” button, the return results will show how you can alter the page to become more accessible according to the guidelines you choose.
  12. JISCWeb Accessibility Self-Evaluation Tool: This simple web accessibility self-evaluation tool has been designed to provide Web developers with a simple and pragmatic step-by-step approach to conducting an internal or self-evaluation. This tool is suitable for use with institutional websites, personal academic homepages and other information sites. However, this tool is not suitable on its own as a tool for the evaluation of e-learning or e-resource material. This is a download.
  13. Web Metrics TestbedWeb Metrics Testbed: Uability and accessibility testing tools for websites: Web Static Analyzer Tool (WebSAT) – checks HTML against typical usability guidelines. Web Category Analysis Tool (WebCAT) – helps a usability engineer with web category analysis/card sort, Web Variable Instrumenter Program (WebVIP) instruments a website to log of user interaction, Framework for Logging Usability Data (FLUD) – a file format and parser for representation of user interaction logs, FLUDViz – produces a 2D visualization of a single user session, VisVIP – produces a 3D visualization of user navigation paths, TreeDec – adds navigation aids to website pages. Note: WebMetrics project is no longer actively supported, and the tests are downloads. So, if you have issues with the tools, you won’t have support.
  14. Web Page Backward Compatibility ViewerWeb Page Backward Compatibility Viewer: Check all the boxes to learn whether the Web site in question passes or fails the tests. Or, you can add checked boxes as you go along with the tests to determine how simple you can make the site. The point is to remove all the barriers possible from the site to make it more accessible to any user.

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Validation – Other

An accessible site begins with correct code. The sites listed below will test your HTML, CSS, and other code so that you can correct errors before you begin to test for accessibility. Sometimes these corrections will be all you need to make your site accessible. Some of the tools listed below are downloads or extensions.

  1. AboutURLAboutURL: This site provides links to various tools that will validate a domain. You also can learn more about traffic details and other information all through offsite links to other Web sites.
  2. AnyBrowserAnyBrowser: Tools relevant for accessibility include viewing in various screen sizes and viewing with images are replaced by ALT text. Also available are HTML validation, link checking, search engine tools, and other browser compatibility tests.
  3. CSE HTML ValidatorCSE HTML Validator: Although this link leads to a commercial product, the free test is located halfway down the page. And, it’s a good test, so the commercial product might be worth your while if you want to go in that direction.
  4. Dr. WatsonDoctor Watson: Dr. Watson for Windows is a program error debugger that gathers information about your computer when an error (or user-mode fault) occurs with a program. This is a free service to analyze your web page on the Internet.
  5. HTML TidyHTML Tidy: A quorum of developers have pitched in on a SourceForge project to maintain and further develop Dave Raggett’s excellent HTML Tidy program. We have two primary goals. First, to provide a home where all the patches and fixes that folks contribute can be collected and incorporated into the program. Second, a library form of Tidy has been created to make it easier to incorporate Tidy into other software.
  6. Mozilla HTML ValidatorHTML Validator: HTML Validator is a Mozilla extension that adds HTML validation inside Firefox and Mozilla. The number of errors of a HTML page is seen on the form of an icon in the status bar when browsing. The details of the errors are seen when looking the HTML source of the page. The extension is based on the HTML Tidy shown immediately above.
  7. OcawaOcawa: Ocawa runs accessibility tests based on the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines using a built-in expert system. The Ocawa website offers free single or multiple page site audits with output reports highlighting all inaccessible aspects of a page source. An Ocawa Server can be installed for unlimited testing for large clients and intranet facilities. Ocawa was developed by Urbilog and France Telecom R & D.
  8. W3C CSS ValidatorW3C CSS Validation Service: W3C CSS Validation Service is a free service that checks Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in (X)HTML documents or standalone for conformance to W3C recommendations.
  9. W3C Markup ValidatorW3C Markup Validation Service: a free service that checks Web documents in formats like HTML and XHTML for conformance to W3C Recommendations and other standards.

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Bonus Sites

We thought we could stop at 100, but we were wrong. Since republishing this article in November 2012, these additional sites have been suggested to us as good Web accessibility resources.

  1. Bobby ApprovedBobby Approved: Over the years, “Bobby Approved” site designs have powered an easy, practical approach to website accessibility. But how do you get that classic Bobby approval icon for your site today?
  2. Loop11Loop11: Loop11 is a tool that offers online usability and accessibility testing. A webmaster or developer using the tool can test the user experience of any website, and easily and effectively discover any navigational or accessibility flaws.

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