Accessibility tools: Automated testing

Automated accessibility testing is an easy way to find obvious errors. It should always be a check you do against anything you build, but it is not enough to guarantee accessibility.

It is recommended to use multiple automated checkers, as each one might find errors others do not, and as they’re really quick to run it doesn’t add much overhead.

A GDS audit of automated tools found that out of 142 known accessibility issues, the best tools only found around 30 to 40 percent. So it is important to make sure you do manual testing also.

Accessibility Insights

Accessibility Insights is a Microsoft tool which is available as a browser plugin. Like a lot of other plugins, it offers automated accessibility testing, but what sets it apart is the ability to guide you through a manual assessment.

The manual assessment feature of Accessibility Insights really sets it apart from other browser plugins, as we know from a GDS audit of automated tools, automated tools will not find everything and should not be relied upon.

The guided manual assessment will give you a better understanding of how accessible your website is, and it even provides a HTML report which can be downloaded and kept as evidence.

When using accessibility insights, it will only check the page you’re currently browsing, so it’s best to run it after you build a page rather than trying to go back through an entire site at the end.

Axe

Axe by Deque is available as a browser plugin, and AxeCore is available as a command line tool and can be part of your continuous integration pipeline.

Axe will check the page you are currently browsing, AxeCore can be programmed to check multiple pages and output any errors in bulk.

You can also use AxeCore with Gulp using the Gulp Axe Webdriver if you’re using a task runner.

Wave

Wave is a browser plugin created by WebAim. Like Axe and Accessibility Insights it will check the page you are currently browsing.