Monday, November 5, 2012

The new WAVE tool improves website accessibility. For free.

graphic for WAVE 5.0 beta
Image courtesy of the Center for Persons with Disabilities
If you would like to make your website accessible and don't know how, we have good news for you.

If you already use WebAIM's free WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation) tool, we still have good news for you.

WAVE allows developers to see at a glance where their pages might need some tweaking in order to be readable to everyone. It even helps bloggers who may be a little less code-savvy to fix errors. (My most common mistake is failing to add alternative text to photos. The tool shows me right where the errors are, so fixing them is much easier.)

Currently the team at WebAIM--an initiative of the College's Center for Persons with Disabiltiies--is working on a beta version of WAVE 5. And while I liked version 4, I like 5 better. It's more helpful to bloggers like me--people with good intentions but limited coding skills.

Here's more about it from the CPD's website:

For people with disabilities, surfing the Web can result in the online equivalent of a riptide or wipeout. Even assistive technology such as screen readers won’t help if the building blocks of a website—its HTML code—are not accessible.

To help web developers and designers create content that’s available to everyone, Web Accessibility In Mind, (WebAIM) at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities has developed a free web site evaluation tool called WAVE.

Users simply type in a URL, upload a file or paste in a piece of HTML code, and WAVE processes the code and looks for access or compliance issues. Users can also download a free toolbar within the Firefox web browser.

...The WAVE5 beta is much easier to use, because a new sidebar offers a color-coded, icon-laden summary of errors and alerts. With just a few mouse clicks, users can see the details of each error and alert, as well as a documentation box that lists the error, what it means, why it matters and how to fix it. Users can learn more about web accessibility as they are using the WAVE tool...

For a quick list of WAVE 5 features, visit the WebAIM blog.

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