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Best web accessibility service of 2022

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
A person speaking into a smartphone.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Web accessibility software allows website owners and developers to make their sites fully accessible to all. This important software is designed to make it easy to be in compliance with the complex maze of standards.

Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) being applied to websites, this has become an increasingly important issue for website owners. This goes back to 2017, with the District Court Case: Juan Carlos Gill v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. (opens in new tab), which established a precedent in this area. In this case, the plaintiff brought suit when the Winn-Dixie website was not fully available to this user when he attempted to add a digital coupon to his card, and refill a prescription. While Winn-Dixie argued that a website was not the same as a physical location, and therefore the same ADA standards did not apply, the district court ruled in favor of the plaintiff. This then opened the door to websites needing to comply with ADA standards. 

Subsequently, the 11th Circuit Court ruled that the Title III standards of the ADA did in fact not apply to a website. However, the floodgates had already been opened to web accessibility lawsuits. Most smart businesses these days would rather comply with standards, rather than open themselves to endless litigation.

Most of these web accessibility providers can bring a site up to standards pretty quickly. Many start with the website installing a short portion of code provided by the web accessibility company onto the site. This then enables the software of the web accessibility provider to get to work. These are mostly functioning as a SaaS (opens in new tab) so that the software and process lives in the cloud, and the website team does not have to configure anything more complex than a simple line of code.

With code installed, an AI (opens in new tab) bot can crawl the site, find potential issues, and even offer solutions. Some providers also go beyond this to offer personal attention, and more tailored help to polish your website from a web accessibility perspective.

An important differentiating point between web accessibility services is the frequency of how often your site gets crawled. In some cases it can be as infrequent as once a month, while others do this task daily to constantly work on getting the site to the latest in standards.

Another important differentiator between services is the other services offered beyond web accessibility. While some providers are laser focused just in this area, others offer the web accessibility portion as one feature out of many other complementary functions, such as broken link checking, and a multilingual dictionary. Also, some of the providers offer direct coding help, such as a training seminar, or even one on one assistance, while other are more basic. Therefore, like anything else, it falls on the user to make an honest assessment of the needs prior to signing up for the service.

Therefore here we'll feature the best in web accessibility software, to offer suggestions for your consideration. These picks were chosen based on ease of use, pricing including a free tier or trial, and published user reviews.

(Image credit: EqualWeb)
A leader in web accessibility solutions

Reasons to buy

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Transparent pricing
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Free tools
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Online dashboard
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Favorable usable reviews

Reasons to avoid

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Phone support is optional extra
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No pricing on accessibility experts

EqualWeb (opens in new tab) uses a team of several background disciplines to foster web accessibility, along with prioritizing security of clients. Simplicity of installation is also prioritized, as the software gets installed via a Chrome browser plugin (opens in new tab), which then uses an automated algorithm to assess any HTML site for web accessibility issues, and according to this company identify 70% of potential concerns to WCAG 2.1 standards. This all gets laid out neatly in a Chrome browser sidebar, and then the remediation widget can go to work to correct the problems. We also appreciate that in those more complex situations where automated remediation falls short, that EqualWeb also offers a Full Remediation package.

Also a standout in pricing, EqualWeb is notable for offering a 7 day free trial of its services. Also available is a free tier with limited features, but a good way to become familiar with the service. We also appreciate that they back up the services of the in house accessibility experts with a $1,000,000 dollar guarantee.

Read the full EqualWeb review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Tenon)
Accessibility for all

Reasons to buy

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Free trial
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Free tier
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Upfront pricing
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Support videos
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Good options for support

Reasons to avoid

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Lack of user reviews
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Tenon site with potential issues

Tenon (opens in new tab) claims to be the first SaaS in the web accessibility space, and must be doing something right with a community of users that is over 11K in strength. This web accessibility provider endeavors to bring your site up to multiple standards that cover WCAG 2.0,  WCAG 2.1, and Section 508.

Tenon offers the option to run its service in the cloud, or for those with a security concern, to use it via a private cloud (opens in new tab) server. Rather than just fixing web accessibility problems one by one, Tenon can identify core system UI patterns, and then work with your developers to apply fixes en masse.

Users benefit from support options that include direct phone support, although it is limited to business hours. Chat and direct email are also options for those who prefer to type rather than get on the phone.

Rather than the one size fits all approach, Tenon offers a range of plans, in a sort of freemium approach. A notable feature is the free tier, with several affordable tiers available. Also of note is that while there is monthly pricing, there is also an annual discount.

Read the full Tenon review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Deque)
A trusted leader in web accessibility

Reasons to buy

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Free demo & 14 day trial
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High level of expertise
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Simplicity of browser based extension
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Mobile app testing support

Reasons to avoid

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Limited support options
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Opaque pricing
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Few user reviews
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Mobile app testing limited to higher tier

Deque (opens in new tab) is a web accessibility provider offers both an automated approach to monitoring your website, along with human expertise. It is a standout that not only does this service enhance compliance with disability standards, but has helped to drive them, by participating in W3C working groups for international guidelines.

Via a web browser extension, Deque performs automated testing, better known as “Intelligent Guided Testing” with results that can be saved, or have the option to export. It is also reassuring to know that not only are the problems identified, but also in-depth links are provided for solutions. Deque claims a particularly high rate of identification of issues via its testing, 83% which best its competition’s claims. 

An even higher level of analysis is offered via “Intelligent Guided Testing.” This is run via a different method, with developers answering questions about the site content, and generates an issue report.

While we take issue with the opaque pricing, we are encouraged by the free demo, and also the free 14-day trial period.

Read the full Deque review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Accessible360)
The human technology company

Reasons to buy

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Annual or monthly plans
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Handles a variety of digital content
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Step based approach
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Service includes help desk

Reasons to avoid

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Limited support options
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Totally opaque pricing
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Lack of user reviews
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Lack of free trial

Accessible360 (opens in new tab) is somewhat of a newcomer to web accessibility, and it nails the essentials down well. It has plenty of expertise for dealing with accessibility audits, and also skilled disability testers for an accurate assessment of websites areas of improvement.

This company manages to break down their process of improvement down into three simple steps. The first step is to Assess that the needs of the site are ascertained. The next step is to Enable, so that deficits can be remedied to comply with the WCAG 2.0 AA standard. The final step is called Stay, and this is designed to maintain the level of web accessibility that has been achieved with ongoing monitoring and alerts if any issues crop up.

While the approach is well done, some issues kept us from giving this service a higher ranking. This includes the lack of user reviews, and the lack of upfront pricing information. Support also covered the basics, such as a contact portal, email, and a phone number, but lacked some advanced options we would like to see like online chat.

Read the full Accessible360 review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: User1st)
Open the door to accessible digital content

Reasons to buy

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Customer service options
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Customizable filters
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Free demo
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DevOps integration

Reasons to avoid

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Below average user reviews for cost
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Opaque pricing

Drawing upon the diversity of its team, that covers the gamut from social advocates to web developers, User1st (opens in new tab) works with websites to open the digital door to content for those individuals that are disabled, whether on a temporary or permanent basis. This is accomplished via a SaaS approach remotely.

Via a process that accomplishes web accessibility in a comprehensive fashion, User1st indicates that it can find more errors than the competition. There is also the option for customizable filters to personalize the User1st tool for an individual site’s needs.

The uRemediate tool is also quite powerful. This serves, via a single line of code added to the site, for the creation of a web accessibility button. For a disabled individual that needs accommodation, just by pressing on the button the site can then be used in a fully compliant manner to WCAG 2.1 AA standards. Also impressive, feedback from users can then be generated about the accessibility, along with backend statistics. Finally, the same tool also handles benchmarking of the site, providing a comprehensive program survey that compares the site to industry standards, along with a gap analysis.

Read the full User1st review (opens in new tab).

We've also featured the bst text-to-speech software.

What types of disabilities are there?

The term disability puts a number of unrelated issues under the same umbrella. When building a web site, the entire range of potential issues should be accommodated. Here are some categories:

  • Visual: blindness, color blind, low vision
  • Hearing: a spectrum from mild hearing impairment to totally deaf
  • Cognitive: mentally challenged, dyslexia, autism
  • Speech: mute to speech impaired
  • Physical: impaired motor function, from mild to complete

WCAG

(Image credit: W3C)

What is WCAG?

WCAG (opens in new tab) stands for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. This is an international standard that gets approved by both the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The latest standard is 2.1, and was recommended in 2018. It provides for accommodations across a wide range of disabilities that includes vision, hearing, motor, and cognitive disorders, along with potential combinations of these limitations.

What is a P.O.U.R website?

This is an acronym for the actionable portion of the WCAG guidelines. It stands for perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. Adhering to these four principles helps to satisfy the needs of users with disabilities to web sites.

What is an assistive technology?

This is a piece of equipment that is designed to enhance the functional capacity for someone with a disability. Some can be quite simple, for example, a mouth stick that a person can place in their mouth and peck onto a keyboard. Others can be more complex, such as an oversized trackball to be able to control a keyboard and overcome fine motor movement deficits. At the higher end, some assistive technology is even more complex, such as dictation software.

What are the ways to test for compliance?

There are essentially two methods to test a site for web accessibility. The first is an automated AI approach. This can be done faster, and repeatedly more easily, but it may not find all issues. The second is with human testers, but this is more labor intensive.

Jonas P. DeMuro is a freelance reviewer covering wireless networking hardware.