Review: Wave Toolbar Shows Accessibility of Websites

Have you ever wondered how accessible your web site is? Or are you a web designer who would like to know about making a web site easier for people with screen reading software to access?  The WAVE toolbar can answer those questions for you.  This Firefox add-on was created by WebAIM – Web Accessibility In Mind – and is absolutely free.   WAVE allows you to find out if your web site is up to current Section 508 standards and guidelines set by the Web Accessibility Initiative.

Simply open Firefox or download the browser and go to the WAVE Toolbar web site.  Once you download the add-on, you must restart Firefox.

To run the WAVE toolbar, open Firefox and type in a web address.  Then, click on any of the icons in the toolbar to get a WAVE report of the accessibility.

Colored icons will then appear on the web page, where different colors indicate specific alerts with the content on the page.  If you put the cursor of your mouse over the colored icon, a box will appear that will explain the alert.  Common alerts are:

  • An error will be present if an image is not linked to text.  All of the images in the INDATA blog are appropriately labeled with text that makes sense to the image to avoid this issue.
  • “Problematic Link Text” means that the text for a link does not make sense to the screen reader.  An example would be if you make the letter “A” a link for the text on the screen to get bigger.  The screen reader is not going to know what “A” is.  An alternative option would be to make a link that says “Enlarge Text on Page.”
  • “Pop-up Window” is an alert that tells the user a pop-up window will occur if they click on the link.
  • “Alert to PDF” lets a person know that clicking a link will bring up a PDF document.

You’ll notice that the indicators often appear around links, pictures and tables.  This can give you an indication of how a person who uses a screen reading software will read the page. Here is an image of what the WAVE looks like when used on the INDATA blog site:

WAVE test on INDATA Blog
WAVE test on INDATA Blog

California State University has a web site that offers more instruction on the difference indicators that will show up after running the WAVE toolbar, and the WAVE blog can keep you informed on upgrades.

INDATA works with business in Indiana to review their web sites’ accessibility.  If you are interested in learning more about how to make your web site accessible and you are located in Indiana, contact me at  My next post will include information on accessibility concerning social media sites.

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