As technology evolves, so do internal needs and processes. Sometimes in that evolution, a solution that was once perfect for our needs becomes a little less perfect, and a new contender emerges. With accessibility being an ever-present concern and focus for our web projects, we are constantly looking to enhance the way we approach this important concept.
Until recently, Pa11y has been our tool of choice for scanning our work and identifying accessibility issues. While Pa11y has served us very well, we’ve been continuously looking at other options in the space. Our goal was to find something that fit into our development process a bit more seamlessly. This is how we ultimately came upon our current accessibility scanning tool: Axe. Axe is a tool that is built to be directly integrated into a team’s development process. Numerous accessibility scanning methods and features are offered by Axe which we found very appealing.
There are a number of reasons for our switch to Axe, all giving us the ability to more accurately and efficiently resolve accessibility issues. Primarily, Axe has developed browser extensions for both Chrome and Firefox browsers. This gives anyone with the extension the ability to run accessibility reports on the project at any time in the process, preferably against the final CMS product. Reports can be generated by a user with the browser extension rather than needing to ask a developer to run a scan of the static build. Allowing more members of the team to independently run scans helps to optimize project efficiency by relying less on one or two specific team members to always need to run scans when requested.
Other features we’ve found especially useful:
- Error messages are more thorough and targeted.
- Axe reports provide detailed documentation on how to fix the identified problem.
- Issues reported will contain the entire markup element in the report, allowing for much easier code comparisons.
With an optimized accessibility process, we’ve made it really easy to switch to Axe. Our team is excited to continue working with Axe and using it to its fullest potential to ensure that any site we build maintains the accessibility levels we are constantly striving for.