Our accessibility evaluation methodology is used to evaluate how well your website or software product complies with some set of accessibility standards, usually one or both of the following:
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 , an international set of standards from the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
- Section 508, the Federal standards in the United States. For websites, §1194.22 of Section 508 applies; for software products, §1194.21 applies. As of July 2011, the Section 508 Refresh is still in process; this update will bring Section 508 more in line with WCAG 2.0.
TecEd uses a combination of methods to evaluate accessibility.
Automated Accessibility Evaluation
Automated evaluation of web pages identifies accessibility issues that lend themselves easily to detection by software—for example, the absence of page code that provides alternative descriptions for images. Automated tools are also useful for detecting possible violations that must be verified by a skilled accessibility evaluator, by inspection or interaction with the web page.
Manual Accessibility Evaluation
In manual evaluation, an accessibility evaluator uses direct inspection and helper tools (such as special browser add-ons) to confirm issues found by automated tools, look for other issues that automatic tools cannot detect, and assess accessibility content for meaning and usability. For example, only a human evaluator can determine if the alternative text for an image is a meaningful equivalent of that image.
Screen Reader Accessibility Evaluation
Another manual method TecEd uses is screen reader evaluation. In this method, an evaluator uses screen reader software (typically, JAWS from Freedom Scientific) to simulate the experience of visually impaired users. As the screen reader reads a web page out loud, the evaluator listens for the types of accessibility issues that screen reader users may experience.
Because visually impaired screen reader users typically use a keyboard rather than a mouse, this method also provides insights into keyboard accessibility for people who use other keyboards or keyboard emulators, such as users with impaired motor abilities.
In addition to identifying issues with the accessibility of your website, TecEd’s evaluation recommends accessibility improvements that will benefit all users—and your business.