Accessibility: February 2012 Archives

Three New Accessibility Toolbars for Firefox

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If you're being asked to accessify a Website, Firefox plugins can be some very handy tools to have, and I have recently discovered three new ones which extend my functionality in addition to the classic Accessibility Evaluation Toolbar .

All of these toolbars are designed primarily for spot checks on a single page. However, if your site is templated (even Dreamweaver templated) you can catch a lot of template errors doing a one-page check up. You can also quickly check objects which normally cause the biggest headaches - images ALT tags, ill-structured tables and improperly labelled form fields. Modern tools are also letting detect ARIA page structures (or the lack of them).

WAVE Toolbar

If you like the WAVE report (and I do), you may also want the WAVE Toolbar. This toolbar lets you do a WAVE scan on your current Web page, even pages which require a login. I've always liked the WAVE report because it captures a lot of data for multiple tests, and quickly lets you know where your problems are on the page.

Juicy Studios Toolbar

The studio that gave us the Colour Contrast Ratio Analyser also provides a Juicy Studio Accessibility Toolbar which includes (yes) a color contrast tool. which reports on every text/background combination on your page (a plus for more colorful home pages). They also provide a nice table analyzer tool which shows if a table has the SUMMARY and the TH attributes and checks for SCOPE.

Jim Thatcher Favelets

This Favelets set is from accessibility guru Jim Thatcher. They run similar tests as the other tools, but results are in pop-up windows which are a little more screen-reader friendly. It also includes a very nice ARIA tool (as does Juicy Studio). It also checks for the presence of a SKIP Link.

Penn State is implementing a centralized scanning service, but I like having these tools in addition to those...just in case.

Accessibility Improves Search Rank

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You may have heard several accessibility experts say that implementing accessibility can improve your rankings in Google, but the article SEO and Accessibility Overlap documents the different WCAG 2.0 requirements that also makes your site more Google friendly.

The reason for all this overlap? As author Liam McGee comments:

Google[bot] is blind. Googlebot doesn't use a mouse. Googlebot sometimes has trouble with javascript. Like a blind person using screenreader software, Googlebot relies on structural cues in the content - denoting headings, paragraphs, lists and more - to make more sense of the page.

It just goes to show that you never know WHO could be visiting your Web site.