While creators are doing more than ever to make their websites accessible, we still have a long way to go. A 2021 study found that the top 1 million homepages have an average of 51 errors each.
Accessibility issues include everything from insufficient contrast to missing alt text and unlabeled input forms. If you want to develop an accessible website, you need a website accessibility tool that can identify the subtle problems you would miss on your own. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best free and premium website accessibility tools available in 2023.
What Are Accessibility Testing Tools?
The internet is a necessity in contemporary life, and everyone should be able to access it equally. Making your website fully accessible maximizes your potential audience and contributes to a more equitable web. Unless you’re a trained accessibility expert, you have little to no chance of fully evaluating your own website.
Accessibility testing tools can analyze your website quickly to determine whether it’s accessible to people with disabilities. The leading platforms are generally compatible with common standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that outline the basic elements of an accessible website.
5 Top Testing Tools
WAVE is one of the biggest names in accessibility testing. It’s a free service offered to the community for free by WebAIM at Utah State University. WAVE has been available since 2001, which makes it one of the oldest continuously operating website accessibility testing tools.
You can access WAVE easily on its website or by downloading the Chrome, Firefox, or Edge extension. The main limitation of the website is that it can only be used to test a single site at a time. The extensions allow for testing entirely within your web browser, without any data being sent to WAVE.
WAVE is also available through a subscription-based application programming interface (API), and there’s a premium alternative called Pope Tech that caters to enterprise clients. Pope Tech starts at $165 per month or $150 per month, billed annually for clients with up to 1,000 unique pages.
TAW is a free website accessibility testing tool that accepts donations to help fund its services. While TAW was originally built for a Spanish-speaking audience, it’s also available in both English and Portuguese.
TAW is as easy to use as any other accessibility testing tool — enter your website’s URL to generate an analysis. The platform uses the standard WCAG, including WCAG version 2.1.
While TAW is entirely free to use, the team also offers several paid services including consulting, training, and certification. Check out the TAW website for more information about their mission.
aViewer is another free website accessibility testing tool that’s available on GitHub. Unfortunately, aViewer is currently limited to Windows, so macOS and Linux users need to look for another option.
While aViewer’s GitHub page hasn’t been updated since 2017, the software is also linked to a platform called TPGi. TPGi offers more of a managed service that’s ideal for businesses and other organizations.
The TPGi free plan comes with basic site accessibility testing, but you can only test five pages on each domain. This is a significant limitation, especially considering that many site owners only have a single domain yet far more than five pages to test. Furthermore, the free plan doesn’t offer any support for multiple users.
At $29 per seat, per month, the Essentials tier allows for multiple users and adds in extra help resources. Finally, Enterprise runs $59 per seat, per month, with an annual commitment, with advanced features like customizable rulesets, additional reporting options, and Zapier integration.
axe is a major accessibility testing platform that’s built for enterprise clients. It’s used by leading tech companies like Microsoft and Google, but there’s also a free browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge that’s ideal for small-scale users.
With the browser extension, you’ll be able to analyze your site and find ways to improve its accessibility. The extension has a strong review score of between 4.0 and 4.5 on the Chrome Web Store, with 89 ratings and more than 200,000 unique users.
At $40 per user, per month, the Pro plan introduces advanced features like machine learning-guided testing and the option to test specific components. You can also get started with a 14-day free trial of Pro before committing to a subscription. According to the axe website, DevTools Pro can help organizations reach 80% or more issue coverage.
Finally, larger clients can contact axe directly for a custom solution based on their needs. The Enterprise tier includes the full set of axe’s features, such as linting, a command line interface, and mobile testing on iOS and Android.
Tenon is another enterprise-level platform that’s built for teams and organizations. While axe at least offers a free extension, Tenon only offers a limited free trial — you have to pay for ongoing access to the platform.
Tenon was acquired by Level Access in November 2021. Level Access is a web accessibility platform that focuses on giving organizations the tools they need to make their content more accessible. However, Tenon still has a distinct website and provides its own contact information for customer support.
Pricing for Tenon is generally based on API calls. You can pay for a specific number of API calls at 4 cents each or pay as you go with a $5 monthly fee plus a base rate of 3 cents per call.
Alternatively, Tenon also provides three subscription tiers: Small (3,000 monthly calls for $90 per month), Medium (15,000 monthly calls for $450 per month), and Large (30,000 API calls for $750 per month).
Each subscription comes with a discount of roughly 8% when paid annually instead of monthly. The Medium and Large plans also come with free training, and users that need more calls or a private instance can work out a bespoke solution.
How Do You Use Accessibility Testing Tools?
Each of the applications on this list are a little different. Many platforms let you run tests by simply visiting the site and entering the URL. Meanwhile, some providers offer in-depth features that could come with more of a learning curve.
If you need to test a small number of websites quickly, you should be fine with a basic free tool. However, clients that are working on a larger scale or that have ongoing site accessibility testing needs may be better off with a premium service that caters to business clients.
What Should You Do Next?
At this point, you should be ready to test your site for accessibility issues. Accessibility testing is a cheap and easy way to make sure that content is available to as many people as possible. Check out these articles for more tips on improving your site’s accessibility: