When we talk to customers they sometimes bring up the various free accessibility testing tools and ask why they shouldn’t just use one of them instead of OzART.
It’s a fair question.
There are a couple of pretty decent tools available for free, and if their limitations are acceptable to you then they’re not a bad start. So you need to ask yourself some questions when choosing an appropriate tool or combination of tools.
How and what am I testing?
If you’re looking to test individual pages interactively, then WAVE is pretty useful. What it won’t do, though, is grab all your pages and present comprehensive reports.
For that you’ll need a more sophisticated tool like OzART. OzART fetches all of the content that is to be evaluated, crawls your site, and then provides nice big consolidated reports to work from: rather than looking at all of the problems on a single page, you’ll be looking at all instances of a problem across the entire site, and you’ll be able to pinpoint cases where an individual issue occurs across many pages.
How many people are doing the testing work?
If you’re relying on one of the free tools and have more than one person doing the testing, you’ll need to keep track of who is testing what separately. You’ll also need some sort of issue tracker and manually enter data. It can be quite an overhead.
Compare this to OzART: everyone is working from the same view of the data, in a single web application, and the work done by one person is visible to all other team members.
How much do you know about web accessibility?
There’s a lot of information out there about web accessibility. You could “just” read WCAG 2.0 and its supplementary material. If you’re an accessibility specialist you probably should have. But it’s dry and confusing in places and assumes a background in web accessibility that you may simply not have.
For each problem OzART looks for, it includes details on how to interpret the report being presented along with guidance on what the problem is, why it’s a problem, and how to avoid it. Including example code in many cases.
In short: if you know what you’re doing and you only have a few pages to work on, the free tools will be quite useful. Heck, we use them ourselves sometimes.
But if you have a lot of material to go over, or you have a team working on it, or you aren’t an accessibility specialist, a more sophisticated tool like OzART is worth your time.