Documents and content that are public-facing must be evaluated for compliance, with a goal of being accessible.
Several software programs now include an automatic testing tool to evaluate the accessibility of your document. A well known tool is the Check Accessibility tool in the Microsoft Office 365 Suite. This tool is present in almost all of Microsoft’s programs, and is particularly useful when authoring documents in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook.
For content such as social media copy, its accessibility can be evaluated in its original authoring platform (such as Microsoft Word), or can be automatically tested once live using a web accessibility checking tool.
Most tools are limited in their ability to verify the accessibility of a document regarding guidelines related to alternative text, captions, document structure, use of color, colour contrast of text, images of text, colour contrast of visual elements, and if hyperlinks were created properly.
These tools are also unable to test for best-practice recommendations for accessibility, such as incorporating best-practice for digital font styles.
Automatic Testing Tools
Manual testing will be necessary to verify the accessibility of a document due to automatic tools’ inability to properly evaluate guidelines related to alternative text, captions, document structure, use of color, colour contrast of text, images of text, colour contrast of visual elements, and if hyperlinks were created properly.
For alternative text, automatic testing can identify if alternative text is present, but not if it has been used appropriately.
In the case of colour contrast, the majority of automatic testing tools are unable to test colour contrast of layered elements. This is particularly true for diagrams or graphics that were created in another software, flattened into one image file, and imported into your document. Adjacent colours will need to be checked for text contrast and visual elements. If the hex code (colour code, # followed by six letters and/or numbers) of a colour is unknown, I recommend using the Colour Contrast Analyser application to sample colours directly from anywhere on your screen. If the colours are known and you wish to distribute these results, color.review is a very useful tool that visual illustrates colours and their contrasts.
Manual Testing Tools
- Colour Contrast Analyser (CCA) – Eye Dropper Application
- WebAIM – Guide to Alternative Text
Checklists within this Resource
There are several checklists that have been created to guide your automatic and manual testing process within this guide. They were created as a plain language alternative to the WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines and should help make your manual checking process a bit smoother.