Testing Website Accessibility


As part of the campus-wide initiative to make sure that CSU's websites are accessible, these are the recommendations for testing websites for accessibility.

Process for Testing Websites

  1. Use an automated checker that references WCAG 2.0 standards.
  2. Manually check results of automated tools. (e.g. alt text may exist, but is it meaningful?)
  3. Test navigating with a keyboard only.
  4. Test with a screen reader.

Automated Testing Tools

WAVE Tool (Recommended)

WebAIM is a fantastic resource for all your questions about web accessibility. The website provides an evaluation tool that will check individual webpages for accessibility problems. There are two ways to access the tool:

The WAVE tool is our recommended tool for the campus initiative because it provides an accessibility report that is tied to WCAG 2.0 standards.

Need some help decoding your results? Most importantly, RED icons indicate accessibility errors that must be fixed. GREEN icons indicate areas you should review for appropriate handling. These items need human review - for example, alternate text may exist but that doesn't mean it is meaningful.

WebAIM provides a more in-depth explanation of how the WAVE tool works.

IE Web Accessibility Toolbar (WAT)

IE WAT is the toolbar referenced in the "Beginner" portions of the Web Checklist by George Mason University (see manual testing tools below).

This toolbar allows you to view accessibility information about a web page, such as tab reading order, headings, alt text, etc. It is a good supplemental tool in addition to the WAVE Tool.

Web Developer Toolbar

The Web Developer Toolbar is available for both Firefox and Chrome. It is a general tool, but it has some features that help to check the accessibility of your web page.

For tips on how to use the toolbar to test your webpage, WebAIM has a helpful tutorial.

Manual Testing Tools

The Web Checklist by George Mason University

The Web Checklist created by the Accessibility Team at George Mason University breaks accessibility testing down into categories from keyboard access to online forms and beyond. It is quite thorough without being overwhelming.

The checklist offers two ways to test each category. The beginner level uses the IE Web Accessibility Toolbar, and the intermediate level ventures into keyboard and screen reader testing with simple instructions.

The beginner sections of the checklist can also be used with WAVE tool if you know enough to adapt the instructions.

User Level Testing

The following guide was designed for screen reader users with visual impairments to give constructive feedback about the usability of websites. Although it was not designed for sighted users, it can still be a helpful tool, approaching web accessibility from the user point of view.

  • Testing Web Usability QuickStart Guide Download Word Version of Testing Web Usability Guide Download PDF Version of Testing Web Usability Guide

Screen Readers

One way to discover how your website works for users with visual impairments is to try navigating it using only your keyboard and a screen reader.

  • Be on the lookout for locations where the keyboard gets stuck or cannot reach at all.
  • Watch for content that you can see but do not hear from the screen reader.

JAWS (Windows)

NVDA (Windows Open-Source)

VoiceOver (Mac Built-in Accessibility Feature)