aDesigner from IBM Tokyo Research Laboratory

Chieko Asakawa and the IBM Tokyo Research Laboratory have done it again. The originators of IBM Home Page Reader have a new web accessibility evaluation tool called aDesigner which is available from the IBM AlphaWorks Emerging Technologies site. It's free.

aDesigner is the first new approach to accessibility evaluation that I have seen in a couple of years. When I experimented with it, I found that the tool picked up errors that others missed and more importantly, I knew that the errors had been found. I was not inundated with hundreds of warnings and cautions; I could see the serious issues that were being raised.

There are several neat graphical tricks for visualizing the accessibility of the page. The length of time it takes to get to portions of the page when listening with a screen reader are indicated by background shades of blue. When it takes more than 90 seconds (a parameter) the text is obliterated by the dark blue background. Adding skip links or headings can significantly lighten up your page. A neat representation of the idea of screen reader navigation.

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