Tools & Resources

This page provides a list of tools and resources that support accessible development, primarily of web and multimedia content and applications. The list was compiled with input from developers across the University of Washington, and is a work in progress. To contribute to this list on the Know-Wiki, please see comment below.

Web and IT Accessibility Tutorials

  • Usability and Accessibility Testing Portal (PDF file). How to create and setup your AccessWorks Usability Portal and PayPal account.
  • One Guideline at a Time – WCAG 2.o Made Easy by Olga Revilla. WCAG 2 is the next generation of guidelines for a most accessible Web. There are changes from the original WCAG that address contemporary design techniques. This is a useful tutorial for understanding how to approach and use WCAG2 most effectively.
  • Introduction to Accessible Information Technology in Education This self-paced online course focuses on accessibility issues that relate to information technology and related law and policy issues in education. Developed at the UW by the National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education (AccessIT).
  • WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind)Introductory tutorial, articles for audiences of all levels of expertise, a blog, and a discussion list
  • HTCTU Traninings and TutorialsDeveloped by the High Tech Center Training Unit of the California Community College system, these tutorials are extremely thorough and well-written, and cover a broad variety of topics related to IT accessibility.
  • Web Accessibility for Section 508A tutorial by accessibility consultant Jim Thatcher, thoroughly explains each of the Section 508 web accessibility standards with plenty of examples
  • Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information TechnologyThis is the official guide from the U.S. Access Board, the federal agency who developed the standards. This guide is easy to read, provides excellent examples, and covers all IT categories that are addressed by Section 508 (including web, software, multimedia, hardware, telecommunications, and standalone IT equipment)
  • Web Accessibility 101This online course on web accessibility policy, standards, and design is developed and maintained by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the first higher education institutions to implement a high-level web accessibility policy.
  • Building Accessible WebsitesFree, online, and recently upated version of the popular book by accessibility consultant Joe Clark
  • Dive Into AccessibilityAn on-line book by Mark Pilgrim, sub-titled “30 days to a more accessible web site”

Informative Websites and Blogs

  • Developer Guidelines from IBMThis excellent resource includes accessibility checklists for software accessibility, web accessibility, Java accessibility, hardware accessibility, and more.
  • Guild of Accessible Web Designers GAWD is “a worldwide association of professional organizations, web designers and developers working together to promote the use and preservation of accessible design standards”. Their blog explores a variety of interesting topics related to accessibility.
  • Boxes and ArrowsA general blog for Web designers, with lots of good articles about accessibility in the real technology world
  • A List ApartAs it describes itself, this website/blog “explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on web standards and best practices.”
  • Skills for Access“The Comprehensive Guide to Creating Accessible Multimedia for e-learning”
  • Pattern Tap – Designers don’t design in a vacuum. They find inspiration and influence from the world around them. Pattern Tap is a library of design concepts for designers and and front-end developers.

Web and IT Accessibility Resources from DO-IT

The DO-IT Center (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) at the UW has worked tirelessly since 1991 to to increase the participation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs and careers. In doing so DO-IT has developed a number of resources related to IT accessibility, including the resources listed below.

Guidelines and Standards

Standards Validation and Accessibility Evaluation Tools

The tools listed in this section are all free and have been recommended by web developers at the UW who have experience developing accessible websites. A wide variety of additional products are available for purchase. To explore the full spectrum of products in this area (free or otherwise), use the Simple or Advanced Search feature on the W3C’s Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools site.

  • W3C HTML ValidatorHaving valid code is a first step toward web accessibility and cross-browser compatibility. This tool checks the validity of your HTML, XHTML, and other XML-based file types.
  • HTML TidyA software library that evaluates and cleans up HTML, automatically generating a reformatted (i.e., “tidied”) version. HTML Tidy is integrated into the free web development editor HTML-Kit, is available in a Windows GUI version called TidyGUI, and is available in an HTML Tidy Web Interface as a service from UW Technology.
  • Functional Accessibility Evaluator (FAE)Online web accessibility evaluator from the University of Illinois at Urbana-champaign. Is capable of crawling a website and providing a summary report, plus reports for each individual page.
  • WAVEDeveloped by the folks at WebAIM, this online tool evaluates the accessibility of a web page and shows results using icons and indicators, embedded onto the original page.
  • Web Accessibility VerifierThis online checker was developed by the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at the University of Toronto, and is the successor to A-Prompt.
  • VisCheckEmulates websites as individual with various types of color blindness would perceive them.
  • Colour Contrast AnalyzerFor Web Pages, from Vision Australia, a Windows program for evaluating whether your choice of colorswill work for people with color-blindness.
  • FireEyes free automated accessibility testing tool.

Browser Toolbars, Add-ons, and Extensions

For Firefox

  • Firefox Web Developer ToolbarThis highly useful toolbar is packed with features, including many that help developers to create websites that are accessible.
  • Firefox Accessibility ExtensionDeveloped at the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, there is some overlap between this toolbar the the Web Developer Toolbar, but this one focuses more specifically on accessibility.
  • FirebugAn add-on for FireFox that greatly speeds up the process of cracking problems in Web page behaviors. As the product website explains, “you can edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page”.

For Internet Explorer and Opera

  • Internet Explorer Developer Tools. This toolkit is Microsoft’s answer to the Firefox web Developer Toolbar, is similarly feature-rich, and is built into IE8 (just press F12 to activate it). For IE prior to version 8, try the IE Developer Toolbar.
  • Web Accessibility ToolbarThis toolbar is similar to the Firefox Accessibility Extension, but has a more visual approach to presenting accessibility information. Versions are currently available for Internet Explorer and Opera. Continued development on this tool is led by the Web Accessibility Tools Consortium (WAT-C), an overall great resource for free accessibility tools.


Given the high level of interest in dynamic web programming among UW Web Developers, we have developed a separate page of resources specifically dedicated to AJAX Accessibility. Below is the short list of highlights, plus a couple of resources at the end not related to AJAX.

Assistive Technologies

When testing web pages and IT products with assistive technologies, it is important to be aware that no two assistive technology products are alike. Developers are cautioned to use these tools only as an approximate gauge of accessibility. What seems to work perfectly in Product A may be inaccessible in Product B. Therefore, developers should resist the tendency to develop sites and applications that work with a particular AT product, and focus instead on developing sites that comply with standards.

Some assistive technology vendors provide demo versions of their products, which typically time-out after a few minutes of operation. Product licenses vary as to whether using these demo versions is permissable for testing and development purposes. For information about available products and license restrictions, contact the Access Technology Lab.

Also, all major desktop operating systems are bundled with basic assistive technology utilities. For more information about these utilities consult the accessibility sites at Microsoft, Apple, and the Linux Accessibility Resource Site (LARS).

In addition, the following free screen readers can be useful for testing web pages.

  • ThunderFree screen reader
  • Fire VoxAn open source, freely available talking browser extension for the Firefox web browser.
  • NVDAAnother free, open source screen reader.
  • FangsScreen reader emulator from Standards Schmandards

Multimedia Accessibility

  • MAGpieFree tool for adding captions and audio description to videos, from National Center on Accessible Media at WGBHCaptionateTool from Manitu Group, embeds caption data directly into a Flash Video fileAutomatic Sync TechnologiesUpload videos and transcripts and have them captioned automatically within minutesCC For FlashAnother NCAM product, tools for supporting closed captioned video within FlashAdobe Accessibility BlogFeatures several articles on adding captions to Flash video