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Web Accessibility Testing at the ATAC


This document outlines our current approach to Web accessibility testing at the ATAC, which is useful during the development of new Web sites and for the monitoring of established Web sites.

Our ongoing effort to incorporate improved evaluation tools and testing techniques necessitates periodic revision of this document.

The latest version of this Web page is also available as a Microsoft Word Document

NOTE: Mention of specific evaluation tools in this document does not constitute endorsement by the ATAC, and use of any testing method does not guarantee conformance under the laws or regulations of any specific government or institution.

Our methods are founded on a solid understanding and implementation of emerging Web standards and accessibility guidelines, as well as the best practices shared among our colleagues.

Specifically, the ATAC would like to credit:

  • W3C Web Accessibility Initiative: Evaluating Web site accessibility: a multi-page resource suite that outlines different approaches for evaluating Web sites for accessibility. While it does not provide checkpoint-by-checkpoint testing techniques, it does provide general procedures and tips for evaluation in different situations, from evaluation during Web site development to ongoing monitoring of existing sites. The approaches in their pages are intended to supplement other content management and quality assurance procedures.
  • Sakai Project: Accessibility Testing Protocol by Brian Richwine, Sakai Accessibility Team Leader. We found these methods very effective in identifying accessibility issues in Sakai.
  • Committee on Institutional Cooperation's IT Accessibility Interest Group: Annual workshops have provided valuable insights into best practices for Web accessibility at Big Ten schools.
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Information Gathering

The first step in engaging the ATAC to help evaluate your Web site for accessibility begins at our Web site:

Here you will find a variety of resources that will help you understand the forces driving the need for Web Accessibility, as well as specific tips and techniques for the development and maintenance of accessible Web sites.

We ask that you familiarize yourself with the basic principles, addressing any identifiable challenges in your project prior to engaging the ATAC for evaluation.

When you are ready to arrange an evaluation, complete the
Request Help form

Please provide as many details as possible. We will review your information and contact you within two business days to set up an appointment.

Once we have gathered information about your Web site, we will prepare for the user-centered review by conducting a quick scan of your pages for obvious accessibility problems. We will notify you if these problems will significantly affect the testing process so you will have the opportunity to make corrections. Otherwise, we will set an appointment for the evaluation.

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User-Centered Review

While the user-centered review does not identify all of the problems on a Web site, it is an effective first step that can enhance your understanding of Web accessibility, offer you initial feedback, and help you focus on particular areas that might need improvement.

Focusing on some representative pages of your Web site, the user-centered review is conducted at the ATAC by Web Accessibility Specialists Mary Stores and Christina Wray.

Since Mary is blind, this initial evaluation will offer you the opportunity to observe how assistive technologies like screen readers and refreshable Braille displays help people with different kinds of abilities to interact with your Web pages.

Joe Humbert is the ATAC Webmaster and an advocate for building sites with standards and accessibility in mind. He is available during the user-centered review to answer any technical questions about accessibility issues raised by Mary's hands-on testing.

At a minimum, the user-centered review will answer these questions:

  • Can one navigate your Web pages using only the keyboard? Have you provided navigational elements such as headers, "skip over" links, and page anchors? Can all links and form controls be accessed?
  • Have you avoided using html tables for layout? If you have used tables, can one navigate them without a mouse? Are they described well? Do they make sense to the user?
  • Using his/her browser, can the user change font sizes without sacrificing usability?
  • Will the Web site be usable with style sheets turned off? What about JavaScript?
  • Have you tested your site at different screen resolutions to ensure the site is still usable without horizontal scrolling?
  • Are link titles and text unique and meaningful? Will they make sense out of context?
  • Is there enough contrast for people with low vision or color blindness?
  • Are images adequately described with alternative text?
  • Is audio available through text equivalents or captioning?
  • Have you removed blinking or flashing elements which may cause some people to experience seizures?
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Code Evaluation

Using semi-automated evaluation tools, we will examine your code for the desired level of conformance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0)

Using the applicable checkpoints from the Checklist of Checkpoints for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 , we will manually evaluate representative page samples while validating your code for well-formed markup in accordance with your stated specifications.

Some of the evaluation tools we may use to examine and validate your code include:

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Recommendation Report and Follow Up Testing

To facilitate developer repair and subsequent quality assurance, all the testing results will be summarized in a report attached to the Checklist of Checkpoints for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0

Wherever possible, we will recommend actions to address identified problems, expand on the positive aspects, and make your Web site more accessible. Once you have had sufficient time to complete any repairs and improvements, you may want to contact the ATAC for follow-up testing. We are always happy to help.

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