How To Evaluate A Site for Accessibility
There are two steps involved in evaluating site accessibility:
- Technical Accessibility
- User Accessibility
The order that these are done in is not important, but understanding the difference between the two is.
- Technical Accessibility can be evaluated by a program or tool that checks the HTML for the presence of necessary code, such as "Alt tags." Checking for technical accessibility manually may be ineffecient, especially on a large website, so these tools are indespensible to the site designer because it saves time, and catches things that may otherwise be missed. Evaluation tools compile a list of things that must be fixed in order for a website to pass the compliance test. Some tools will only present the list to the user, while others will fix or repair the problem. There are many evaluation tools that are free, while some cost hundreds of dollars. This section examines the usage of the tools, Infocus and Bobby. It must be noted however, that these evaluation tools should not be the only thing relied upon to truly test a website.
- User Accessibility deals with whether the accessibility in a website is "equivalent." For instance, a user accessibility issue is whether or not an alt tag conveys the meaning and content of a photo accurately enough that the description is equivalent to actually seeing the image. For obvious reasons this cannot be evaluated by a tool or program. Some evaluation programs will bring these up as manual or user checks. While Many evaluation tools prompt a user to check for equivalency, which is helpful, the user must still make that evaluation themselves. It is possible that a website will pass the a technical evaluation with flying colors, but if the content is lacking, then it may still be of minimal assistance to a disabled user.