Automated Tools – Lighthouse, Deque axe, WAVE & AccessiBe
Automated accessibility Tools are software, plugins and code all designed to audit and maintain your website or applications accessibility rating. They measure your product against the current WCAG 2.1 web standards. They can perform surface level tests where they will perform checks against the WCAG 2.1 criteria such as images, colour contrast and heading structure.
Automated testing is very useful for getting surface level views of your website or application’s accessibility. They can easily tell if a heading structure is sequential in order. These tools can check if images have alt-text descriptions or if tables are correctly labeled. Screen readers need all this context to convey to the end user all the information on a site or app.
Automated testing does not fully test a website, application or digital document for all WCAG 2.1 Criteria. These tools can only perform surface level testing.
While they can decipher if an image has an alt-text label or not they can’t discern if the label is correct. The image could be of a cat, but the label reads “dog walking down a street with its owner”. Images might also offer no context and purely be designed as a decorative image. We can set an image to be decorative and thus a screen reader will ignore it, but these automated tools can’t get down to this level of detail.
Automated tools can’t yet replicated an end user. A screen reader user often due to poor website design and poor implementation of WCAG 2.1 standards can get stuck in menus or often have no access to these menus at all. The reading order and tabbing order both may not be logical and the screen reader can be placed in random parts of your website and miss important information. This creates the inability to complete simple tasks or locate certain sections of your website.
Manual testing on its own or combined with automated tools is the only current solution to completely auditing your website, app or digital document for all criteria in the WCAG 2.1 guidelines.
As part of our consultations, accessibility audits and training sessions we can identify and explain all the contextual nuisances that would apply to WCAG 2.1. If you have any questions or need any help with any digital accessibility issue please don’t hesitate to make contact with IA Labs