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Do-It-Yourself Digital Accessibility Auditing


The Accessibility Laws, Policies, and Standards page that linked below is not currently available. It is in the final stages of approval and will be available soon. In the meantime, these are the design guidelines you should refer to:


This page only covers the processes and tools used for auditing digital documents, digital tools, and websites. To assess the accessibility of physical objects and environments, please rely on the appropriate design standards listed on the accessibility laws, policies, and standards page to design your assessment process.

Step 1: Know What the Standards Are

Before conducting an accessibility audit, you should first be familiar with the accessibility laws and standards that Clemson adheres to. You will need to refer back to these laws and standards whenever your assessments need clarification.

Step 2: Automated Testing

While automated testing is estimated to catch only around 20% to 25% of accessibility issues, it is still a great place to start, especially for beginners. Use the appropriate automated assessment tools listed below to estimate your content's level of accessibility. Each link will take you to a user guide or download page for the respective tool.

Automated Accessibility Auditing Tools
Program AssessedAuditing Tool
Microsoft Office Built-in Accessibility Checker
OpenOffice/LibreOffice AccessODF add-on
Google Suite Grackle Add-ons
Adobe Acrobat DC Built-in Checker
Color Contrast for All Programs
(Color Contrast Requirements)
Web Pages WAVE*

*There is a WAVE web site where you can submit URLs to be audited and there are WAVE web browser add-ons that can be used to get around password protection.

The following may also be helpful for identifying web accessibility issues:

Additional accessibility auditing tools are available (especially for web pages), so if these do not suit your needs, use your preferred search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) and/or app store to find one that will.

Step 3: Manual Testing

To get a more accurate measure of your accessibility, manually test your product using the tips and tools below.

Screen Readers

To catch most accessibility issues, explore your product with one of the screen reader programs listed below. For the best results, use one of the screen readers most commonly used by persons with disabilities. For your convenience, the list below has been arranged from most used at the top to least used based on WebAIM's annual survey results for 2017.

Automated Accessibility Auditing Tools
ReaderUse WithUser Guides
JAWS (costs $) Windows only,
Internet Explorer
JAWS Commands
NVDA (free) Windows,
Mozilla Firefox
NVDA Operation
VoiceOver (free) iOS only,
VoiceOver Commands
Chromevox (free) Chromebooks, Google Chrome Chromevox Commands
Narrator (free) Windows only,
Narrator Commands
Talkback (free) Android OS only Talkback Operation
Orca (free) Linux OS Orca Operation

Before starting your screen reader, learn how to turn the screen reader on and off. If you are annoyed by the voice or are startled by how loud the voice is, you will want to be able to quickly turn it off.

Afterwards, determine your screen reader's modifier key (a key or combination of keys that are held down while other commands are entered). JAWS and NVDA have Insert as their modifier, although NVDA can be set to use Caps Lock. VoiceOver uses Caps Lock or Ctrl + Option as its modifier.

To begin exploring with a desktop computer or laptop, set your mouse aside or turn it off then start using the Tab key, Shift + Tab keys, and the directional arrow keys to navigate. Depending on your screen reader, some of these navigation commands may require that the modifier key(s)be pressed before the nagivations occur. To activate links or buttons, you will generally use either the spacebar or the enter key.

To begin exploring with a touch screen device, swipe left or right and then doubletap to activate.

As you explore, pay attention to reading order; verbalization of graphics; and the ability to access, activate, and/or exit every feature. If you cannot reach, activate, or exit a feature through the screen reader's commands or gestures, check that the product you're exploring doesn't have specific commands for doing so. If it does not, then there is a strong probability that you have discovered an accessibility issue that needs repair. Additionally, if you do not have a visible indication for where you are in the product as you navigate (i.e. a "focus ring") then this too is an accessibility issue.


To find additional accessibility issues, run the following simulations. Some of these simulations cannot be applied to documents.

Simulations for Manual Testing
Mobile Viewing View web content through a smart phone, tablet, or mobile device emulator and verify that the content is responsive (i.e. is optimally formatted for a mobile device).
Disable CSS Use your browser's developer tools or Web Developer add-on/toolbar to disable CSS then check the reading order and verify that there is no information conveyed through color, shape, size, or location alone.
Disable Images Use your browser's developer tools or Web Developer add-on/toolbar to disable images then check that all images have alt text and/or text equivalents nearby.
Magnify Use Ctrl or Cmmnd + = (think of it as Ctrl + plus or Ctrl + increase) or your device's built-in magnification software then explore the product, paying close attention to how easy or difficult it is to find and interpret information. When finished, if you used the keyboard commands to magnify, use Ctrl or Cmmnd + 0 to return to normal.
Low Vision:
and more
Google Chrome has extensions (SEE, No Coffee, ChromeLens) that can simulate various vision impairments. Using the colorblindness simulators are perhaps the most important of these as most of the other conditions often require the use of a screen reader to compensate. With the colorblindness simulator, you should look for strong contrasts between colored text, their backgrounds, and surrounding text. Additionally, verify that there is no information conveyed through color alone.
Hearing Impairment Mute your computer's speakers and explore the product, paying close attention to whether or not auditory information is also conveyed through text or visual cues.

Step 4: More Tests

If you have completed all of the tests above, then you have likely improved the accessibility of your product significantly. This said, there is still no guarantee that your product is or will remain 100% accessible. Routine check-ups and regular testing by persons with disabilities will best ensure that your product continually meets accessibility requirements.