What are Accessibility Testing Tools?
Website accessibility testing tools help organizations ensure their website is accessible and navigable for all users. This is especially critical for users with auditory, visual, physical, speech-related, or cognitive and neurological disabilities. Business websites often have certain barriers in place that, unwittingly, make it difficult for certain users to read, comprehend, navigate, or complete tasks. These tools are also often called accessibility checkers, ADA website checkers, and ADA compliance testing tools.
Accessibility testing tools run scans and monitor websites for things like:
Alternative text on images
Captions for multimedia content
Compatibility with assistive technologies
Level of color contrast between different page elements
Readability and comprehension of text
Missing or misplaced labels within the text
The output of these tests and scans are typically a score, set of metrics, or more detailed teardown of website elements. Web developers, designers, and writers can use this output to assess how ADA and WCAG compliant their website is, and make changes to make it more compliant.
There is a wide range of website accessibility testing tools available, ranging from free browser-based applications to comprehensive digital quality management or governance software like Crownpeak DQM, Siteimprove, Level Access AMP, and Monsido.
Website Compliance Standards
The W3C publishes web accessibility guidelines that organizations and businesses can follow when developing websites and webpages. These standards adhere to four core principles when evaluating how ADA or WCAG compliant a website is:
Is it perceivable?
Is it operable?
Is it understandable?
Is it robust?
Accessibility Testing Tool Features
Most accessibility testing tools allow users to run a test or scan of a specific webpage. More comprehensive tools will conduct automated scanning against the WCAG 2.1 guidelines and recommend website changes.
Free and Open Source Accessibility Testing Tools
There are several free and open-source web accessibility testing tools available. Most allow users to enter the URL of a specific page for testing. While the output of these tests or scans won’t be as thorough as the results for a paid test or audit, they can be a great starting place when updating a website to be more accessible.
Some examples of popular free accessibility testing tools include:
For individual users, website contributors, and freelancers—free or open-source accessibility tools are a good choice. But for businesses that want to routinely check their website for accessibility standards compliance, a paid solution is likely more appropriate.
Accessibility Testing Tools Comparison
Before deciding to either use a free or paid website accessibility tool, consider these key points:
Scope of the tool: Are you looking for website accessibility or digital governance software to use across your entire business? Or are you in the market for a simpler accessibility tool to check one or a few webpages for WCAG compliance? A paid web accessibility tool is better suited for businesses looking for more comprehensive software to conduct thorough website scans and audits. Free tools are great for individual users or more sporadic testing needs.
Automated tests vs. manual audits: Using software tools to do automated web accessibility testing can be a great first step to take. However, manual audits often go deeper and can provide more recommendations for how to improve your website’s ADA and WCAG compliance. Certain paid tools also provide robust recommendations for improving website compliance, while most paid tools don’t provide recommendations.
Along with free and paid website accessibility testing tools, there are multiple paid accessibility management software options.
Most web accessibility management software vendors do provide publicly available pricing. Interested buyers should reach out to these vendors directly for a quote.