Accessibility will become more important the coming years. The European Accessibility Act (EAA) is a central law for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) in Europe. It formulates accessibility requirements according to WCAG level AA for goods and services and thus also makes companies responsible. On June 28 in 2025 most companies must ensure that newly marketed products and services covered by the Act are accessible.
As software developers we have to make sure that our software related to e-commerce, banking services, services related to air, bus, rail and waterborne passenger transport and access to audio-visual media services such as tv broadcast is easy to use for at least 87 million people.
For this many people with disabilities, including older people, accessibility is a precondition for participation in society on equal basis. How can we make sure of that as developers and QA?
There are a couple of tools already out there to help us identify common accessibility problems within our software. In this blog post, we will compare and review some of the most popular web accessibility tools and determine which ones are the best.
Axe is a free and open-source accessibility testing tool that provides comprehensive testing and reporting for web applications. Axe can be used as a browser extension, command-line tool, or integrated into your continuous integration and deployment process. Axe is powered by the Accessibility Rules Engine, which is a set of rules that can be customized to meet the specific needs of your website.
- Axe provides detailed reports on accessibility issues
- Axe integrates with popular development tools like Chrome DevTools and Jenkins.
- Axe is not a complete accessibility solution and should be used in conjunction with other tools.
- Axe will point out some color contrast issues that still need to be tested manually.
- Axe's comprehensive reports can be overwhelming and difficult to understand for beginners.
Lighthouse is a free and open-source web performance and accessibility testing tool developed by Google. Lighthouse can be used as a browser extension, command-line tool, or integrated into your continuous integration and deployment process. Lighthouse provides a comprehensive report on web performance, accessibility, best practices, and search engine optimization.
- Lighthouse is easy to use and provides comprehensive reports on accessibility issues.
- Lighthouse is integrated with Google Chrome's developer tools and can be used with other browsers.
- Lighthouse can be used to improve other factors like SEO, performance and best practices in addition to accessibility.
- Lighthouse's accessibility testing is limited to basic issues. It does use axe-core for accessibility audit, but it does not run the tests that the axe extension does.
- Because of this, Lighthouse can give a 100% accessibility rating while a site is not accessible.
Wave is a free web accessibility evaluation tool developed by WebAIM. Wave can be used as a browser extension or integrated into your web page. Wave provides a detailed report on accessibility issues and provides solutions for fixing them.
- Wave is integrated with popular web browsers and can be used with any web page.
- Wave uses icons on the tested page to point out issues, it’s easy to read
- Wave's reports provide recommendations for fixing issues.
- Wave's icon overlay can get confused. Because the icons provide no other information about the element on the page you have to dig deeper to find out what’s going on when that happens.
Tenon is a web accessibility testing tool that provides comprehensive testing and reporting for web applications. Tenon can be used as a browser extension or integrated into your continuous integration and deployment process. Tenon provides a detailed report on accessibility issues and provides solutions for fixing them.
- Tenon does not require anything to be downloaded or installed on your computer because it’s a web service that only needs the page url under test.
- Tenon provides a "Suggest" feature that suggests solutions for fixing issues.
- Tenon can be used to test web applications for accessibility and compliance with regulations like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Tenon is a paid service, and pricing can be a barrier for smaller organizations.
- The page needs to be publicly available so Tenon’s web service can check the URL passed.
After reviewing and comparing these popular web accessibility tools, it is difficult to determine which tool is the best.
Each tool has its strengths and weaknesses, and the tool you choose will depend on your specific skills, needs and requirements.
WAVE is great for beginners, while axe is better for the more experienced user. Tenon is also excellent tool that can be used to supplement your accessibility testing efforts. Lighthouse is nice for a quick check, although it should never be your only check because of the basic implementation.
Ultimately, the best approach to web accessibility is to use a combination of these tools and to ensure that your development team is knowledgeable about web accessibility standards and best practices. Use Aria-attributes for input elements for example. Additionally, it's essential to involve users with disabilities in the testing and design process to ensure that your website is truly accessible to all. And don’t forget to educate content authors of the web application. Things like using the correct headings, alternate text for images that are not decorative and enabling captions for videos are important. With the right tools and practices, you can create a website that is accessible, user-friendly, and inclusive for all users.