Tuesday, July 19, 2005

IBM's aDesigner: Useful accessibility testing app

IBM alphaWorks aDesigner is described as "A disability simulator that helps Web designers ensure that their pages are accessible and usable by the visually impaired." It is a desktop client based on Java and Eclipse technology.

What is particularly nice about it is that it allows me conduct accessibility tests on web applications that require authentication; where external online accessibility validators like WebXACT (previously called Bobby) and Cynthia Says wouldn't be able to access. To be fair I believe you can purchase a version of Bobby that can be configured to work with authentication protected web pages ( there is also a desktop version of Cynthia Says which might possibly also work). Although I'm easily discouraged from using any software that I have to pay for.

Unlike with the online versions of Cynthia Says and WebXACT, with aDesigner I was able to login to my instance of uPortal and test the pages directly. Prior to this tool I had to conduct any accessibility testing on static dumps of the portal pages.

Also as far as I can make out it is free for Academic use. The only possible downside I can see so far is that you need to register with the IBM site to download it.

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