IBM announced Monday a new set of open source tools for developers and testers who want to make sure their websites and apps are accessible to people with disabilities. The new Equal Access Toolkit and Checker integrates accessibility directly into developer workflows.
Accessibility features are becoming more and more important to designers and developers, as digital tools become an ubiquitous and essential part of everyday life. At the same time, many websites still have accessibility issues. For example, WebAIM, a non-profit association based in Utah, analyzed a million home pages at the start of the year, detecting at least one accessibility problem in more than 98% of the cases.
The technology industry is increasingly aware of this issue and offers tools to developers and end users that improve accessibility. It is also an issue that surfaces in legal and political discussions. In the United States last year, the Supreme Court opened the door to legal proceedings involving websites and mobile applications not accessible to people with disabilities.
An accessibility toolkit
The new IBM Equal Access Toolkit is a set of public guidelines for all members of a team creating an enterprise tool. It provides step-by-step advice so that team members receive appropriate accessibility advice when they need it.
In the meantime, the “Accessibility Checker” tool is part of an open suite of automation tools. It is a browser extension that can run diagnostics on code at any point during the development process. It generates a list of problems to be addressed, explains the problem and indicates where to solve it.
The tools are built on the same rules engine, which is kept up to date to meet the latest accessibility standards.
Accesibility Checker is available via GitHub, the Chrome Web Store or Firefox Browser Add-ons. If you want to run it in a batch configuration, you can get it through the NPM repository.