Thursday, January 05, 2006

Automated web accessibility checks

Trenton Moss has published a concise article on sitepoint about the dangers of relying too much on automated web accessibility checking.

He rightly points out that the mere process of getting a successful result from an automated tool doesn't necessarily mean that your site is accessible especially in terms of content.

I would stretch this further to include things like good use of fonts, images, colours etc which are not necessarily looked at by web accessibility tools which tend to focus more on the quality of the underlining code and how this code would render for users with impairment.

Basically don't think that just because your site passes an automated validation test your site is accessible. You need to do manual readability and usability tests, as well as colour and contrast tests, to ensure users can read and use your site successfully.

But the best long term solution is for all online professionals (from programmers through to marketers) to build up a knowledge of accessibility issues and implement that knowledge from the start of a project without having to rely on testing to reveal problems.

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