Review Your Content

"We need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability."

- Stevie Wonder

The University at Albany utilizes a distributed content management system in order to publish and maintain information across multiple sites. While the OpenText/RedDot and Drupal systems include accessibility features and ensure that the numerous web editors work within a unified and accessible template, there is still the possibility that the site you are editing may contain inaccessible content.

How to Identify Accessibility Errors

Since every feature and function of a webpage could benefit from inclusive design, there is no one correct place to start when conducting an accessibility audit. Furthermore, depending on your role, you may not be able to directly address the issues you encounter when reviewing a website within the albany.edu domain. That said, with the features of an accessible website in mind, and the help of free and provided tools, you can locate errors and make a positive impact on user experience in a matter of minutes.

Using Siteimprove

UAlbany web editors have access to Siteimprove software, which helps them identify and fix accessibility issues on their web pages. Siteimprove automatically crawls the albany.edu website and identifies issues with accessibility compliance — such as missing alternative text, generic links, buttons without descriptions and more — and then organizes tasks based on their severity. Siteimprove can also help web editors identify and fix quality assurance issues, such as broken links, misspellings, outdated attachments and more. If you need help with or training on Siteimprove, please contact marketingservices@albany.edu.

More Tools and Tips
Accessibility Checklists

The use of a checklist can be beneficial for creating a roadmap and developing a structure to guide your own approach to locating accessibility errors on multiple webpages.

Contrast Checkers

Some users require low luminance (lower brightness) in order to read the text on a webpage, while others have an easier time with brightly colored text on a dark background.

Given the diversity of visual preferences, it is recommended that webpages are designed with the proper contrast ratio so that information remains visible when visitors use the color adjustment tools built into popular browsers according to their unique needs.

There are a variety of online tools available for testing the contrast of both individual images and entire webpages. Some require that you enter the hex code of a given color combination to test the contrast, while others can scan pages based on the URL alone.

Tools that Require Hex Codes

Tools that Do Not Require Hex Codes

Screen Reading Software

Screen readers are used to convert web content into "synthesized speech" in order to provide an alternative form of visual information.

This type of software comes in many forms — some products are incredibly advanced and complex, with an astonishing price tag to match, while other more “developer-friendly” tools can be obtained for free for the purpose of evaluating websites for accessibility.

The following table lists several free and popular tools, as well as compatible operating systems and recommended browsers:

Name of Software Operating System Chrome Firefox Internet Explorer Safari
JAWS Windows Compatible Compatible Compatible  
ZoomText Windows Compatible Compatible Compatible  
VoiceOver Mac Compatible Compatible   Compatible
NVDA Windows Compatible Compatible Compatible  
ChromeVOX Chrome (OS) Compatible      
Window-Eyes Windows   Compatible Compatible  

Note: Click on the software's name to learn more.

Based on a survey conducted by WebAIM in 2015, there is evidence to suggest that JAWS (developed by Freedom Scientific) continues to have the largest user base, followed by ZoomText and Window-Eyes.

Link Checkers

It is recommended that you test your links on a regular basis, either manually or by using software that can crawl webpages and locate 404 errors.

While some software includes link-checking functionality as part of a larger suite of products, there are also free tools available for page-by-page link scans.

The W3C Link Checker automatically scans pages for both broken links and links that could be updated (currently pointing to redirects).

The free version of Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider tool scans pages for broken links and runs on both Windows and Mac OS. Once you run the scan, you can export the results in a CSV or Excel file.

Search Terms

One quick way to find some of the accessibility errors listed on this site is by using the search function in your web browser of choice.

Start by opening the source code of the page you would like to evaluate, activate the search bar and enter the following terms into the empty text field:

“id=” – This search will highlight all the elements with given IDs, allowing you to check for duplicate IDs manually. Read the full description of the element ID guidelines.

“click” – This term may lead you to vague link language (for example: “click here”) that could be made more descriptive and meaningful. Read about link language. This search could also reveal script functions that require the use of the mouse (for example: “onClick” in Javascript). Read about accessible Javascript.

“img” – This search will highlight all the image elements on a page, allowing you to ensure that informative images have an alt tag and that the alt tags of decorative images contain empty quotation marks. Read the full description of the image alt tag guidelines.

“h1” – By searching this term, you can check that the page has at least one “h1” header element with a title that describes the main content of the page. Read the full description of the header markup guidelines.

“title” – This term will lead you to the <title> element of the page header, which should describe the purpose of the page. Read the full description of the page title guidelines.

Assigning Priority

You have identified the accessibility errors on your webpages. Now, where to go from here?

Before any edits are made, it is a good idea to create a triage system for web fixes based on the content of the pages and/or the severity of the accessibility issues you have identified.

Here are two examples of web edit hierarchies that you can draw from to organize your own workflow:

WCAG 1.0 Priority Levels

This system was used until 2008 to evaluate whether web content met the conformance requirements set by the W3C.
 

WCAG Priority 1

A web content developer must satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it impossible to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint is a basic requirement for some groups to be able to use web documents.

Examples of Priority 1 Checkpoints:

  • Ensure that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup.
     
  • For data tables, identify row and column headers.
     

WCAG Priority 2

A web content developer should satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will remove significant barriers to accessing web documents.

Examples of Priority 2 Checkpoints:

  • Use header elements to convey document structure and use them according to specification.
     
  • Until user agents allow users to turn off spawned windows, do not cause pop-ups or other windows to appear and do not change the current window without informing the user.
     

WCAG Priority 3

A web content developer may address this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it somewhat difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will improve access to web documents.

Examples of Priority 3 Checkpoints:

  • Create a style of presentation that is consistent across pages.
     
  • Identify the primary natural language of a document.
     

Penn State Blockers

Penn State has divided the most prevalent features of their website into two categories: “Blockers” and “Beyond the Blockers.”

“Blocker” items may prevent users from understanding the content on your webpage completely, while "Beyond the Blockers" items include considerations that were given a lower priority rating in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.
 

Examples of “Blockers”:

Examples from “Beyond the Blockers”: