Accessibility Quick Checks

There are tools and methods that can be used to perform quick accessibility checks on a web page. None of these methods are a substitute for a complete assessment. Quick checks can give you an idea of where issues may lie, but if the goal is a site that is compliant with WCAG 2.1 AA, a more complete review is needed.

Quick checks are not enough to fully confirm the accessibility of a site. A web page can pass these checks, yet still have significant issues.

Automated Tools

Automated accessibility tools review the front-end code that makes up a site. They identify roughly 25% of all accessibility issues. They can generate false positives and false negatives and cannot identify errors of intent. Within those limitations, they are a reasonable starting point for quick checks.

Recommended tools:

  • WAVE offers both a page checker and a browser extension
  • axe is a browser extension available for Chrome or Firefox

Manual Checks

Manual testing helps uncover issues that are missed by the automated tools.

Quick Checks

  • Contrast. Set the brightness of your mobile device to its lowest setting, open the website and begin browsing. Can you read everything?
  • Zoom. Open the website and click Ctrl + (Windows) or Command + (Mac) several times. Does any text get cut off? Is the site still usable at the biggest setting?
  • Heads. Use an automated tool to make sure all heads are wrapped in the correct H tag. WAVE is a good choice since it identifies heads directly on screen. Many accessibility tools use heads to navigate a page.

Keyboard-Only Navigation

Testing keyboard-only accessibility is strongly recommended. Sites that can be navigated using only a keyboard are more likely to work well with other accessibility technologies such as switches.

  • To test, press tab to move between interactive elements, and press enter or space to interact with them.
  • Make sure you can navigate to different pages on the site.
  • Make sure all interactive elements such as forms can be completed.
  • All interactive elements should have a visible focus style, so that you can see where you are on the page.
  • Focus should follow the logical order of elements on the page and should not jump around.
More on keyboard accessibility

Screen Reader Testing

Testing with a screen reader has a steeper learning curve, but it’s a great way to identify problems that are difficult to detect visually. Using a screen reader offers some understanding of how a visually impaired person accesses a website. Learn more about the benefits of testing with screen readers.

Using NVDA (Windows)
Using VoiceOver (Mac)
VoiceOver for mobile (iOS)

W3C WAI Easy Checks

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative has published checks that can uncover whether a website has addressed accessibility in a basic way.

Easy Checks - A First Review of Web Accessibility