Evaluation tools

Tools can reduce the time and effort required to carry out evaluations, as they can automate tests or assist reviewers in the manual evaluation. However, we have some bad news:

  • The WCAG 2 does not provide an official tool to check the websites.
  • There is not any fully automatable, stand-alone evaluation tool, even non-official, which can perform the whole audit.
  • The W3C does not promote nor endorse any tool.
  • Tools’ results may be false or misleading, so an expert review has to embrace or dismiss them.

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How can I determine if a web technology is ‘accessibility supported’?

Let’s assume that nobody knows which technologies are and aren’t accessibility supported. Now what? Well, the WAI has tried to bring a definition, not very clear, but a definition after all:

a Web content technology is “accessibility supported” when users’ assistive technologies will work with the Web technologies AND when the accessibility features of mainstream technologies will work with the technology.

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The way we use the technology determines its accessibility support

Remember these categorical clauses? ‘Don’t do your web in Flash because it will not be accessible’ or ‘Avoid PDF, because a blind person won’t be capable to read it’. Industries participant in the redaction of the new guidelines have adopted a tougher line protecting their products from legal barriers. So that’s why there is no mention to which technology is accessible and which not, because it depends on the way that they are used. E.G. You can use plain, strict XHTML but it is not well formatted, it wont be accessible. But if you create your website with Flash and all the accessibility features on, it will be accessible.

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Guideline 1.1: Provide text alternatives

Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.

Text can be rendered in a visual, oral or tactile way. Even by any combination of them. So text information can be presented and manipulated in whatever form best meets the user needs. For example, a blind person can understand a picture if her browsers reads aloud the text alternative. Or a deaf person can understand an audio file if there is a text alternative on the screen.

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Guideline 1.2: Time-based Media

Provide alternatives for time-based media

You can use this guideline both for time-based media and synchronized media (with another format and/or time-based interactive components), including:

  • only audio
  • only video
  • audio and video combined
  • audio and/or video combined with interaction

Best practices

  • Prerecorded audio: Provide an alternative that presents equivalent information for prerecorded audio-only content.
  • Prerecorded video: Provide either an alternative for time-based media or an audio track to present equivalent information for prerecorded video-only content.
  • Prerecorded synchronized media: Provide an audio description or media alternative.
  • Prerecorded audio in synchronized media: Provide captions, and if possible, also sign language interpretation.
  • Live audio content in synchronized media (Live): provide captions.
  • Prerecorded video content in synchronized media (): Provide an audio description.
  • Embed interactive elements (for example links) in the alternative content where appropiate.

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Guideline 1.3: Present content in different ways

Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.

Your website audience has very different needs and preferences, so ensure that your content is available in a way that can be perceived by all users in different ways (visually, audibly, tactilely etc.).

If there is embedded information in a way that the structure and information cannot be rendered by the assistive technology, then it cannot be rendered in other formats as needed by the user. (e.g. text in an image).

WCAG 2 refers to structure as the way the parts of a Web page are organized in relation to each other; and the way a collection of Web pages is organized; and presentation as rendering of the content in a form that can be perceived by users.

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Guideline 1.4: Separate background from foreground

Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.

This guideline is about making the default presentation as easy to perceive as possible to people with disabilities: it’s about contrast, not only the ‘colors’ for visual content, but also for the ‘voices’ on audio content.

Best practices

  • Use readable fonts.
  • Text in images should be at least 14 points and has good contrast.
  • Links and controls must be highlighted when they receive keyboard focus.

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