Automated testing can be performed by writing automated tests or with automated accessibility testing tools. We will not be covering automated tests in this Handbook, but we’ll make an overview of one of the most popular testing tools called WAVE. These tools can’t tell you if the webpage is 100% accessible, but they can review it quickly and flag any accessibility violations in the page structure and HTML.
Web Accessibility Testing Tools - WAVE
There are many automated accessibility testing tools out there, but one of the most popular ones is WAVE. It is free, and you can review your page on their website, or you can install the WAVE browser extension for Chrome or Firefox and run it directly on the website you are testing.
The tool performs a quick evaluation of the webpage and then provides a summary with a detailed overview of errors found, along with alerts that point to potential accessibility issues.
Details section will contain the list of issues found, along with clickable icons that point to the corresponding point on the page and, this way, visually indicate the element on which the error was noted.
If you tap on an error or alert, you will get a short explanation of the issue with a reference link to what it means in the context of accessibility and a suggestion on how to fix it. You will also get an option to check the element's code tagged as an issue.
The reference tab in the WAVE UI contains a link to the relevant success criterion in WebAIM’s WCAG checklist for every issue raised by the tool.
It is important to note that while automated tools are a good place to start searching for accessibility issues, they won’t pick up every one of them, and sometimes they will actually return wrong results. Some of the results will require further investigation and manual inspection. That’s why manual accessibility testing should be a mandatory part of the process.