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Why Manual Testing is Critical for Accessibility Compliance

Despite an increasing number of automated tools to evaluate websites for accessibility, manual accessibility testing is more important than ever for evaluating real world accessibility of websites. This is because many accessibility barriers can escape detection with automated accessibility scanners. Also, testing with assistive technology devices is the best way to get a real-world picture of accessibility, and to determine compatibility with common assistive technology devices including screen readers, braille displays, screen magnifiers, and other AT software/devices.

Also, manual tools can be used to:

  • Evaluate the extent and impact of WCAG failures on website accessibility
  • Identify accessibility improvements needed to ensure the best experience for assistive technology users
  • Complete a conformance evaluation and make a conformance claim (aligns with W3C recommendations for evaluating websites for accessibility).

Strengths of Automated Accessibility Scanners

Screenshot of Wave Accessibility Tool for Google Chrome

Automated tools are great for getting a mile-high view of website accessibility. They are also excellent tools for identifying programmatic errors that might impact accessibility such as missing alternate text, duplicate element IDs, empty buttons and links, and other errors. Premium automated tools (i.e. Siteimprove) also have the benefit of scanning larger selections of pages than might be impractical to test manually using assistive technology devices.

Here is a list of some free tools to identify HTML/CSS errors and WCAG 2.0 failures:

Also, there are many premium tools to evaluate website accessibility conformance and to document WCAG failures. Siteimprove, SortSite and Compliance Sheriff allow users to scan a much larger selection of pages to identify WCAG failures.

Strengths of Manual Accessibility Testing

Photo: Blind person using a Braille display

Manual testing involves testing websites with assistive technology devices to evaluate compatibility and identify any accessibility barriers. Manual accessibility testing is the best way to get a real-world picture of accessibility compliance, and to identify significant barriers for assistive technology users.

There is no replacement for real-world testing for accessibility compliance, and manual testing can identify many errors that automated tools might miss including:

Keyboard Accessibility problems – missing keyboard focus, forms and menus that do not work with a keyboard only, inaccessible dialogs, and other accessibility errors.

Contrast Errors – Automated tools are an excellent tool to identify potential contrast problems, but they have some inherent limitations. Automated tools like Wave’s contrast tool do not account for background images, text styling, and other effects that might impact the readability of text.

Error Reporting – problems with form field validation and error reporting can only be evaluated properly using assistive technology devices.

Here are some great free tools that we use for manual accessibility testing and evaluation:

To effectively evaluate website accessibility with assistive technology devices, the W3C also recommends employing both expert AT users and people with disabilities to get a complete picture of accessibility.


Evaluating websites for accessibility requires both manual and automated testing to get a complete picture of accessibility.

Automated tools are an excellent choice for identifying programmatic errors that might impact accessibility, while manual testing is essential to evaluate compatibility of websites with assistive technology devices. Together, manual and automated testing can be used to evaluate website accessibility, and to verify and document accessibility compliance with the W3Cs Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

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Check out our industry-leading audit and evaluation services, or contact us for a free consultation or quote.

Accessibility of 2020 Presidential Candidates’ Websites

A recent article in Time highlights the inaccessibility of campaign websites for the 2020 presidential election candidates. Staff at the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind tested campaign websites for compatibility with assistive technology devices, and found that none of the websites were fully compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Domino’s Petitions the US Supreme Court to Review Website Accessibility Decision

Domino’s corporation has petitioned the US Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision that allowed an accessibility lawsuit against it to proceed. The lawsuit was filed by Guillermo Robles in September 2016.

Mr. Robles contends that he was not able to order a custom pizza online using Dominoes website and mobile app.

Aurora Design and Consulting featured on Inside the ADA

Aurora Design and Consulting was featured on “Inside the ADA” on LA Talk radio on June 5th, 2019. President and CEO, Trip Rems, joined the hosts of Inside the ADA to discuss the state of ADA Title III and website accessibility.

Topics included:

  • Introduction to website accessibility
  • Overview of ADA Title III and the WCAG 2.0
  • Legal trends in website accessibility

Apple Voice Control widens voice accessibility to iOS, MacOS

A complete voice-operated interface opens up Apple’s iPhones and computers to people with physical motor limitations.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is Thursday, May 16, 2019. This is the eighth annual GAAD event promoting accessibility awareness for design, development, usability, and related communities.

The purpose of Global Accessibility Awareness Day is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

Learn more about Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Quick Tips for Developing an Accessible WordPress Site

WordPress is a great platform for developing accessible websites. This open source content management system (CMS) is well-documented and has a diverse and growing development community.

To ensure that your new WordPress site is accessible, it’s important to select an accessibility-ready theme, test plugins for accessibility, use accessible publishing techniques, and test new your pages for accessibility.

Choose an Accessible Theme

The first step in developing an accessible WordPress site is to choose an accessibility-ready theme. Accessibility-ready themes are built with accessibility in mind and include all of the basic features needed to create an accessible website including: keyboard accessible navigation, standards compliant HTML/CSS, responsive layouts, and more.

Screenshot of WordPress Accessibility Ready Theme Directory

The WordPress theme directory includes a growing list of accessibility-ready themes. Also, there are some premium accessibility-ready themes available for purchase on Envato Market (ThemeForest).

To verify that a theme is accessibility-compliant, we recommend scanning the theme demo for your selected theme with Wave Accessibility Tool. Also, it’s important to check and confirm that accessibility-ready themes are fully keyboard accessible.

If you decide to invest in a custom WordPress theme, be sure to choose a developer who specializes in accessible website development. Check out our custom accessibility-certified WordPress packages for more information.

Use Accessible Plugins

While WordPress is a great platform for building accessible websites, there are many plugins in the WordPress plugin library are not fully accessible at this time. To ensure that your website is fully accessible, its important to test and verify that pages and functionality added by third-party plugins are accessible.

To test plugins, we recommend using an automated accessibility scanner (i.e. Wave Accessibility Tool) to scan plugin demos for accessibility errors. If a demo is not available for a plugin, you can install and test the plugin output on your own website.

Here is a brief list of a few plugins that we have found to have good support for accessibility:

Use the WYSIWYG Editor to Publish Accessible Posts

Screenshot of WordPress WYSIWYG EditorThe new (Gutenberg) and classic editors in WordPress include a number of features to help you publish accessible WordPress posts. Here are some tips to ensure that your posts are accessible for assistive technology users:

  • Use styles for headings (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) to structure your pages
  • Format lists using the bulleted and numbered list options in the WYSIWYG editor.
  • Format quotes using the blockquote option in WordPress.
  • Add alternate text descriptions for images (excluding decorative images), and add a link to a page with a long-description for complex graphics.
  • Use correct HTML encodings for special characters (under Special Character in WordPress).

Test Your Pages for Accessibility

Use an automated accessibility scanner to test your new pages for accessibility. We recommend using Wave Accessibility Tool for this task. Wave is feature rich and includes a graphical display of WCAG failures, contrast warnings, ARIA landmarks, and other information.

Wave Accessibility Tool

There is also an extension for Wave Accessibility Tool for Google Chrome that allows you to test pages that require cookies (i.e. for authenticated users).


By taking some time to evaluate accessible themes and plugins for WordPress, you can ensure that your new site is built on a solid foundation for accessibility. Building on this foundation, you can use the publishing tools in WordPress to create accessible content for your users and reach the widest audience possible for your products and services.

Need Help Developing an Accessible WordPress Site?

Check out our affordable accessibility-certified WordPress website packages.

50 Colleges Hit With ADA Lawsuits

Inside Higher Education – Lindsay McKenzie

Jason Camacho, a blind resident of Brooklyn, N.Y., is suing 50 colleges over the accessibility of their websites.

The 50 lawsuits, filed in November, say the colleges are in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, as their websites are not accessible to people with disabilities. Camacho uses a screen reader and said he experienced barriers when trying to access the colleges’ websites.

Essential Accessibility Plugins for WordPress

Three WordPress Plugins that You Can Install Today to Improve the Accessibility of Your Website

Developing a fully accessible website presents numerous challenges. Luckily, the WordPress Plugin library includes a number of free plugins that can help you improve the accessibility of your website today. In this article we’ll cover five plugins that you can install today to immediately improve the accessibility of your website.

Max Mega Menu

Max Mega Menu

Inaccessible drop down and mega menus are a common accessibility problem in WordPress CMS. Many custom navigation walker scripts do not generate keyboard accessible menus, and are missing other accessibility features (including keyboard focus for menu links).

Max Mega Menu plugin converts existing WordPress menus into accessible flyout and mega menus. The plugin addresses common keyboard accessibility problems present in many custom WordPress navigation walker scripts and includes styling for links to ensure that link focus is visible for navigation tabs and submenu links.

Max Mega Menu plugin also allows developers and website owners to customize link and menu styles directly in the WordPress dashboard—making menu setup quick and easy.

Learn more about Max Mega Menu Plugin

WP Accessibility

WP Accessibility

WP Accessibility is a free plugin that addresses a number of common accessibility problems in WordPress themes. The plugin includes options to add skip links with user-defined targets, language and text direction attributes to HTML, and styles for links to ensure that keyboard focus is visible. The plugin also includes a toolbar to allow users to toggle contrast, font size, and color saturation settings for your theme.

WP Accessibility is an excellent choice for developers and site owners who would like to take the first step to improve accessibility for assistive technology users.

Learn more about WP Accessibility

Simple Sitemap

Site Map Illustration

Adding an HTML sitemap is one of the easiest ways to improve accessibility of your website. A sitemap gives users another navigation aid to access content on your website.

The Simple Sitemap plugin helps improve accessibility and SEO by generating a responsive HTML sitemap for your website. The plugin allows you to customize your HTML sitemap to include specific post types and gives you full control over how the sitemap displays on your pages.


The plugins covered in this article are not a complete accessibility solution for WordPress CMS. They do provide a good starting point to address some common accessibility errors in WordPress.

Max Mega Menu is an excellent choice for upgrading your menu systems for keyboard accessibility, while WP Accessibility provides some essential accessibility tools for WordPress CMS. WP Sitemap is an excellent choice for adding a simple HTML sitemap to your website.

When used with a standards-compliant theme and accessible publishing techniques, these plugins can provide a firm foundation upon which to build an accessible website.

If you have questions about accessibility plugins, or need help with your website, please contact us.

Blind advocates challenge state’s failure to provide accessible forms of communication to blind Medi-Cal consumers

Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) – October 22, 2018

A coalition of blind advocates today filed a class action lawsuit in Federal Court against the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and three counties for failing to provide Medi-Cal notices in accessible formats, such as Braille. The plaintiffs are the California Council of the Blind and three individuals.

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