Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI)

Section 508 manual website evaluation tools

These developer tools may be used to assist in manual evaluation of accessibility. Although specifically assembled here to accompany the Section 508 manual evaluation and its reference page, they offer many additional capabilities for general web development use. This is by no means a complete or even nearly-complete listing of such tools, and even these will not all be needed for any given project.

Text reference

There are many reference books that may be helpful; the most comprehensive and current of these that I've seen is Web Accessibility by Jim Thatcher (ISBN 1-59059-638-2). It is the one text cited in the reference page of this site. Besides the specific references given on that page, it contains an Appendix B, "Guide to the Section 508 Standards," which presents additional information on each checkpoint. More information is available at jimthatcher.com. (www.jimthatcher.com/)

Mozilla Firefox

  • Firefox browser, latest version, downloaded from Mozilla.com. (www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/)
  • (FF/developer) Firefox web development toolbar. In Firefox, open the add-ons page, (addons.mozilla.org/firefox/60/) and click "Install now" (it installs automatically). Then close and reopen Firefox to finish the installation. (Note: there are similar toolbars for Internet Explorer, but the Firefox version seems to be the most complete and easiest to use.)
  • (FF/Illinois) University of Illinois Accessibility Extension. (http://firefox.cita.uiuc.edu/) This is very similar to the toolbar listed above, but contains a few functions that are available nowhere else.
  • (FF/Fangs) Fangs text-reader simulation for Firefox. Install like the developer toolbar above, from Sourceforge. (sourceforge.net/projects/fangs) To use, right-click the page and select "View Fangs" from the context menu. You may have to click the "Reload" button to bring up the voice-formatted text.
  • (FF/Firevox) Charles Chen's free page reader, FireVox. (firevox.clcworld.net/downloads.html)

Microsoft Internet Explorer

  • (IE/AIS) The Accessible Information Solutions (AIS) toolbar is available from Vision Australia. (www.visionaustralia.org.au/info.aspx?page=614) Many of its functions open in a new window; you will have to disable popup blockers to use them.

Browser agnostic

  • Colour Contrast Analyser version 1.1 (yes, it's UK spelling, and yes, the version has to be 1.1 not 1.0). This is not the same as the one linked from the IE/AIS toolbar. Go to the Vision Australia download page, (www.visionaustralia.org.au/info.aspx?page=628#download) and click the first link under "Download." Save the .zip file and extract it to a convenient place. You may want to make a shortcut to the .exe file on your desktop.
  • Low vision stylesheet, lowvis.css. Save to any convenient folder on your computer. (www.tomjewett.com/accessibility/lowvis.css)
    • In FireFox, from the Web Developer toolbar, select CSS -> Add User Style Sheet, browse to wherever you stored it and click the Open button. When you are finished, just un-check the "Add User Style Sheet" on the toolbar CSS menu.
    • In Microsoft Internet Explorer, select Tools -> Internet Options... -> Accessibility... and check the "Format documents using my style sheets" box. Using the Browse button, open the lowvis.css style sheet from wherever you stored it, and click OK to both the Accessibility and the Internet Options panels. When you are finished, simply un-check the "...my style sheets" box on the Accessibility panel.
    • Note: this low-vision style sheet was developed by accessibility expert Dr. Wayne Dick for his personal use. (He also uses a voice reader along with it.) It represents just one possible adaptation for low vision; other users will require very different styles or techniques.
  • The most popular full-screen text reader, Jaws®, is available in a demo version that runs for 40 minutes at a time before requiring the computer to be re-booted. (www.freedomscientific.com/fs_downloads/jaws.asp)

Copyright © 2007, by Tom Jewett, jewett@csulb.edu. Links to this site are welcome and encouraged. Individual copies may be printed for non-commercial classroom or personal use; however, this material may not be reposted to other web sites or newsgroups, or included in any printed or electronic publication, whether modified or not, without specific permission from the author.