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Updates to the open source IBM Accessibility Checker make scanning entire sites and applications more effective


Most developers know they need to make their websites and applications accessible, but enabling accessibility across an entire site or application can feel like a daunting task.

To recognize Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 20, the IBM Accessibility team is releasing a new multi-scan report capability in the open source IBM Accessibility Checker that makes it easier than ever to discover — and fix — multiple accessibility issues across your entire website.

Remind me what the Accessibility Checker does

As a reminder, the Accessibility Checker is a tool in the Equal Access Toolkit that gives developers and testers information about their web page’s accessibility, including identifying what is wrong, why it should be fixed, and how to address it.

The Chrome and Firefox browser extensions for the tool have over 6,500 downloads. The continuous integration plug-ins for Node and Karma are averaging 20 thousand downloads per week. From talking to users of the tool, we learned that many developers and testers are working on the flow of a user’s experience through their entire app or site rather than a singular page. We listened to this feedback and built our new multi-scan tool so that users can scan multiple pages and store the results during the same session.

Image of the new multi scan update in the IBM Accessibility Checker

How the new update works

The new multi-scan capability:

  • Scans an entire site or app with simple page clicks.
  • Rolls up all results into a single Excel workbook so you can export a summary of everything that was found.
  • Gives you the choice to evaluate a whole page, all occurrences of a single element, or just one component
  • Enables robust filtering of results. You can view by role, requirements, or rules or filter by violations, needs review, recommendations or all of the above.
  • Lets you select a scan result item (ie Violation) and have it highlight where that issue is in the code and on the page. You can see what exactly is wrong in the code and on the screen at the same time.
  • Reduces the workload dramatically by giving you the ability to exercise your application and test dynamic states without forcing a page reload.

The Accessibility Checker offers the ability to label each scan and provides handy thumbnails of the scanned content to help the user in choosing which scans they want to include in their report. Having all of the issues rolled-up into a single report helps the team prioritize work that may be affecting many pages across the user experience.

See the tool in action

The updated IBM Accessibility Checker can capture multi-scan across experiences from IBM Design on Vimeo.

Summary

On May 20, 2021 the world will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). According to the GAAD web site, the purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access and inclusion. Personally, I think 10 years is too long to still be talking about awareness. I would love for the second A in GAAD to stand for “Action”.

Our Accessibility Checker was IBM’s attempt at putting action into accessibility awareness. We’re pleased with how many developers are using our tool, and hope that this latest enhancement makes it even more useful for creating websites and applications that everyone can use.

I admit that this tool and the guidance that IBM has in the Equal Access Toolkit are just part of the puzzle in helping teams improve their digital accessibility. With so many accessibility tools out there, though, we should be at a time and a place where there is no confusion or delays as to why or how to make digital properties accessible. Use our Accessibility Checker to build accessibility in from the start – and give us feedback on how to make the tool even more effective for your developers and testers.