August 26, 2013

Free Tools to Test Your Nonprofit’s Website for Accessibility

The BIG Question

Does your nonprofit have an accessible website? As a starting point, try testing your site using these free tools:

  • Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE) by WebAIM. Enter a website address and the tool will give you information on accessibility errors and warnings, displayed right near the corresponding element on the web page, along with information on correcting issues it finds.
  • This site provides (very!) detailed analysis for color usage on a web page, including contrast ratio, brightness difference and color difference.
  • Additionally, if you’d like a taste of what it’s like to use screen reader software, like people with vision-related disabilities often do, open your organization’s website using the free, browser-based screen reader tool WebAnywhere. It’s can be a real eye-opener!

Wait…What is Web Accessibility?

People generally associate the topic of web accessibility with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but I like to think of web accessibility as the practice of making websites with content, features and functionality that people of all abilities can access and use.

Benefits of an Accessible Website

There are many benefits to having a website programmed to accessibility standards, including:

  • The site works in any browser and on any mobile device.
  • Greater search engine visibility.
  • Ability to easily update content or appearance without having to re-do the entire site.
  • Faster access on low bandwidth or mobile devices.

For More Information

There are two main sources in the United States for guidelines on Web accessibility:

  1. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 by the Web Accessibility Initiative at the World Wide Web Consortium
  2. Section 508 guidelines by the U.S. Federal Government
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Cindy Leonard
Cindy Leonard is the Consulting Team Leader at the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University. She works with the consulting team to maximize client satisfaction and identify areas for growth. Additionally, she creates and teaches a variety of Bayer Center classes, convenes Bagels & Bytes meetings and organizes the annual TechNow conference. Cindy’s consulting specialty is helping nonprofits to leverage technology to meet their missions. An experienced website designer, she adds website planning, design and assessment to the portfolio of services at the Bayer Center. She has presented at conferences for a variety of organizations, including the Nonprofit Technology Network, the Alliance for Nonprofit Management, the Pennsylvania Association for Nonprofit Organizations, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Pennsylvania Pathways for Victim Services. Cindy is a co-founding member and vice-president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network and serves on the Editorial Committee for the Nonprofit Technology Network’s professional journal Change. Cindy holds a B.S. in Computer Science, an M.B.A. and a M.Ed. in Instructional Design Technology, all from Seton Hill University.
Interest Categories: Websites
Tags: accessibility, website accessibility