Web accessibility checkers can and should be a part of your digital accessibility roadmap, however they are only a single piece of a broader web accessibility strategy.
What are accessibility checkers?
Web accessibility checkers automatically scan pages on your website or application and give a score based on the presence of certain failure criteria. These scanners typically allow for scanning against multiple WCAG rulesets (2.1 A, AA, and AAA, for example) and detail all of the code based failures that can be caught by these filters. While automatic scanners are a key tool to incorporate into your web accessibility strategies, one of their largest shortcomings is the ability to only catch approximately 35%-45% of WCAG 2.1 AA success criteria. This means that roughly 65% of the remaining failures go undetected. These have to be manually audited either by an experienced third party team, or through the use of a comprehensive auditing application like the Accessible Web Guided Audit tool.
What value do they bring?
Running an accessibility checker is typically the first step in any audit process and is an excellent way to begin understanding digital accessibility and the WCAG. Automated scanning can provide a general overview of your website or webapp’s accessibility and helps you understand the scope of work and resources needed to remediate your entire platform. This can also save you time and money ahead of a comprehensive manual audit as automated tests are always the first component of a comprehensive WCAG audit.
Site accessibility checkers serve a valuable role during the development of your site or application giving insight into accessibility health before pages are even published. Tools such as the Accessible Web Helper Chrome extension enable developers and designers to scan pan pages and check color contrast before they are even published.
Tools like Accessible Web RAMP that leverage the Axe Core ruleset can help monitor dev environments and give a high level view of accessibility throughout all stages of development. Once you’ve done the work to bring your site or application into conformance, web accessibility checkers will help to maintain accessibility over time through updates, routine posting, and website changes cause accessibility violations. Over time, this saves money, time, and resources all while maintaining a barrier-free experience for all users.