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What tools do you use to evaluate accessibility of your e-learning?

Fig. 1 As e-learning goes mobile are we thinking through the consequences for access?

What are your client’s expectations?

How should disability be addressed so that e-learning is inclusive rather than exclusive?

Can we go far enough?

What impact does this have on scoping, designing, building and testing a project?

Try some of these tools and recommend others:

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidance

Inclusive Design Institute

Information and implementation practices

ATutor – Accessibility Tools

Follow these guidelines:

Accessibility at the Open University

Select representative websites that you wish to check and select representative pages that match the following criteria:

  • Include all pages on which people are more likely to enter your site (“welcome page”, etc.)

e.g. Preliminary review of websites for accessibility

Include many pages with different layouts and functionality, such as:

  • Web pages with tables, forms, or dynamically generated results and the VLE log in page
  • Web pages with informative images such as diagrams or graphs

e.g. The Earth Sciences and Geography home page

  • Web pages with scripts or applications that with  functionality.

e.g. The Second page – video

Examine pages using browsers

Use browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, , Opera, Safari, or others and check the pages you selected while adjusting some settings in your browser or operating system as follows – some of these manual checks may need more software:Explorer

Turn off images, and check whether appropriate alternative text for the images is available.

1. Turn off the sound, and check whether audio content is still available through text equivalents.

2. Use browser controls to vary font-size: verify that the font size changes on the screen and that the page is still usable at larger font sizes.

3. Test with different screen resolution, and/or by resizing the application window to less than greatest, to verify that horizontal scrolling is not required (caution – test with different browsers, or check code for absolute sizing, to make sure that it is a content problem not a browser problem).

4. Change the display colour to gray-scale (or print out page in gray-scale or black and white) and see whether the colour contrast is adequate.

5. Without using the mouse, use the keyboard to navigate through the links and form controls on a page (such as, using the “Tab” key), making sure that you can use all links and form controls, and that the links clearly show what they lead to.

Examine pages using specialized browsers

Use a voice browser (such as Home Page Reader) or a text browser (such as Lynx) and check pages you selected while answering these questions:

1. Is equivalent information available through the voice or text browser as is available through the GUI browser?

2. Is the information presented in a meaningful order if read serially?

Use automated Web accessibility evaluation tools.

Use at least two automated Web accessibility evaluation tools to analyse pages you selected and note any problems indicated by the tools – these tools will only check the accessibility aspects that they can test automatically. Do not use the results from these tools to decide a conformance level without further manual testing.

WebAIM tools:


Achecker (The owners of  Aprompt discontinued it in 2007) which uses WCAG2.0 (level AA) guidelines.

This tool not only provided much more information but did so in list format with highlighted section of HTML. This was moving towards a conformance evaluation rather than a simple accessibility check.

Summarize results obtained from previous four tasks:

1. Summarize the types of problems met. What positive aspects do you recommend to continued or to expand on the site.

2. What problems did you find. What methods did you use. State whether this was a full conformance evaluation.

3. Recommend follow-up steps, including full conformance evaluation which includes validation of markup and other tests, and ways to deal with any problems identified.


Jonathan Vernon will be taking H810: Accessible online learning,  as part of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE). This is the last module in the FIVE required for the MA. It starts in September and completes in February 2013. Jonathan looks forward to graduating in 2013 with an MA in Open and Distance Education.

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