Testing can be undertaken at any or all of three stages:
Rigourous testing is not easy and some of the tests, being manual, depend upon expertise. Note that accessibility and usability are treated as separate parts of the testing process: a site may be accessible but not usable. It should not be possible for a site to be considered usable if it is not accessible.
There are excellent guidelines for evaluating sites available from the W3C Education and Outreach Working Group: http://www.w3.org/WAI/eval/ (local). To assist with testing, it is worth using the checkpoint forms available from http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/full-checklist.html (local).
On-going maintenance of web sites can be burdensome, particularly if authoring is distributed among a number of people and not all are accessibility experts. In such a case, accessibility monitoring services may be useful.
When developing content using Macromedia's DreamWeaver, authors can access testing software developed by UseableNet, that can be seamlessly linked into DreamWeaver as extensions. UseableNet also provide an online, commercial, continuous accessibility maintenance service.
" Lift Online - Internet service from UsableNet can centrally monitor the accessibility of any public web site.
This new service can run reports on web sites against over 70 accessibility and usability rules including Section 508 and Level 1 W3C. Lift Online can be used in conjunction with Dreamweaver in order to monitor your live web sites. Any time your web site changes (in structure or presentation) you can use LIFT Online to quickly go through all the pages and highlight possible defects. This is ideal for when more than one department or person is adding content to a web site, as is the case with most government or educational sites. The service is provided from UsableNet Internet servers so the user can carry on work while LIFT Online produces the report. LIFT Online is a service that costs between $49 to $249 per year to check one or unlimited web sites making it a very affordable solution for all web designers or web teams to have as part of their overall usability testing efforts." See http://www.usablenet.com/.
See also curriculum for testing.
Last updated: 8 March 2002