Developers looking to improve the accessibility of their digital content will be relieved to hear that there are many tools available to help them. These tools go beyond widgets and software; education is equally as important. For how will you know what to look for and how to use the tools if you are not knowledgeable about digital accessibility first?
Educate yourself on accessibility
Let’s start with the basics. If you have yet to dip your toe into the accessibility pond, there are many great free resources available to you.
TPGi offers two different blogs catering to different audiences. The Business Blog covers high-level and introductory accessibility concepts, like explaining the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the history of accessibility, and why current accessibility overlays aren’t the silver bullet companies make them out to be. The Inclusion Blog, on the other hand, offers expert-level advice on accessibility code rules and concepts. Both are publicly accessible and make for some fun reading to enhance your accessibility knowledge!
The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative
The World Wide Web Consortium offers a tremendous trove of free resources as part of their Web Accessibility Initiative. From a short introductory training course on digital accessibility to a User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) Overview, there’s no shortage of great content.
TPGi’s e-learning platform, TPGi Tutor
While free content is great (who doesn’t love free stuff?), if you’re looking to supplement the free resources you’ve found, you may want to consider TPGi’s e-learning platform, TPGi Tutor. It’s chock full of modules that will get you up to speed on digital accessibility concepts and best practices in no time.
Testing tools for accessibility
Our developers utilize various testing tools when performing manual accessibility reviews, one of which is our free Chrome extension, ARC Toolkit. ARC Toolkit is a professional-level single-page testing tool that quickly identifies accessibility errors for faster remediation. Its intuitive interface makes it easy to master, and it’s a real time saver for developers.
By integrating a tool like ARC Toolkit into every page test, you will learn an incredible amount about accessibility and how to solve issues before they occur. The repetitive practice of finding and fixing a wide range of issues will help you expand your knowledge on accessibility best practices.
JAWS Inspect is our JAWS compatibility testing tool. JAWS is the most popular screen reader in the world. It’s an assistive technology that enables blind or visually impaired people to engage with the internet. When testing for JAWS compatibility, it’s best to use both the actual JAWS software and JAWS Inspect for a more comprehensive assessment. Still, JAWS Inspect is much easier to master for accessibility beginners!
ChromeDev Tools and Safari Web Developer Tools are excellent built-in browser tools whose utility is not limited to accessibility testing. If you’re a developer, you probably already use or have heard of them, but now is your chance to expand your knowledge on using them for accessibility!
Automated testing tools for accessibility
While not a replacement for an actual manual review performed by a developer, an automated accessibility testing tool can be very helpful in establishing a sense of the overall accessibility of your site. When used consistently over time, it also documents progress and helps you identify trends, helping you to fix problems at the root instead of playing catch-up all the time. TPGi’s automated accessibility monitoring solution, ARC Monitoring, is an affordable way to keep abreast of your site’s state of accessibility without breaking the bank.
You can even get a free website accessibility scan to see how your site fares. You’ll get prioritized recommendations and real insights you can act immediately to improve your website’s accessibility.
This year for the ADA’s 30th anniversary, take stock of where you stand on accessibility and then vow to go one step further. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of making all your digital content accessible, remember: it doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you’re always improving your accessibility. There is no such thing as an entirely accessible site (just as no website could ever be considered “bug-free), but there are sites that do a great job accommodating all different types of users. And these organizations all started from the same place you are right now!
For help in maintaining, improving, or starting your accessibility journey, contact TPGi today.