Top Five Free Web Page Accessibility Validators

By Robert Gravelle

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    HTML Validators

    It's a lot easier to incorporate accessibility into your site while designing it than than after coding is done, and it often pays to run your pages through an HTML validator. It's one of the most sure-fire ways to make certain that you haven't overlooked something crucial. In today's article, we're going to be looking at some freely available tools and services that you can put to good use on your own web pages.

What to Test

The W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG - pronounced as a word "wuh-cag") 1.0 consists of three priority levels that act as an industry standard. The first level, Priority 1, covers items on web pages that must be made accessible in order for individuals with disabilities to access the content at all. The second level, Priority 2, includes items on web pages that should be made accessible to allow a wider group of users to access the content. The third level, Priority 3, describes items on web pages that can be made accessible to allow the widest amount of individuals with disabilities to use the site. For more information about WCAG 1.0 visit the W3 web site.

Similarly, Section 508 of the United States Rehabilitation Act outlines the requirements for making federally-funded websites accessible to individuals with disabilities. The standards detail how different components of websites need to be designed to make the web content accessible. The U.S. federal government has 16 standards that are used to define web accessibility. For more information about Section 508 visit the WebAIM Section 508 checklist.

A Few Beneficial Features

Besides knowing which standards to validate against, there are other factors that you may want to look for in an HTML validator tool. For instance, an error list is a good start, but does the tool also provide suggestions for fixing the problems? Depending on how many pages you have to check, you may want to find a tool that supports batch or even site-wide processing; most online tools can only accept one page at a time. What reports are generated? The level of detail can vary greatly. Can the tool simulate a text only view, without images, formatting, colors, or multimedia, so that you can determine if the page content is still intelligible?



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