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Fix accessibility fails with this free tool from Microsoft

Accessibility Insights

If you're building sites or apps, accessibility is something you really need to think about, if only so that you can maximise the audience for your work. All too often, though, designers and developers either leave it too late to approach accessibility properly, or they're simply not sure about the right way to do accessibility, and end up getting it wrong.

However a new free tool from Microsoft has arrived that makes it easy to give your site an accessibility audit, identify any problems and fix them – often in under five minutes. It's called Accessibility Insights and it's available now in two flavours: a Chrome extension for checking web apps and sites, and a standalone Windows version for fixing Windows apps. And we're pretty sure it could quickly become one of your go-to web design tools.

Accessibility Insights

Accessibility Insights provides a quick and easy accessibility fix

The web version of Accessibility Insights has two primary modes. FastPass is a lightweight process that enables you to quickly identify and fix the most common, high-impact accessibility failures; once you've added it to your Chrome extensions, it takes just a couple of clicks to generate a report that'll give a you a full rundown of what your site's doing wrong.

Alongside FastPass, there's also Assessment mode for anyone who wants to check for full compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA. As well as the automated test, there's a set of 20 manual tests designed to help you give your site a complete accessibility MOT.

Accessibility Insights

The FastPass mode swiftly audits your site for the most common fails

Accessibility Insights for Web also features a set of ad hoc tools for testing individual individual accessibility features such as colour, headings and landmarks, as well as guides on how to test them and why they matter.

Accessibility Insights

You can learn about accessibility while you fix things

Web designers and developers are less likely to be interested in the Windows version, but if you're in the app business it's definitely worth knowing about. Like the web version, it features FastPass mode for a quick accessibility audit, and there's also a Live Inspect mode for verifying UI Automation properties, plus a Troubleshooting mode for diagnosing and fixing specific accessibility issues.

Both versions of Accessibility Insights are available now; grab what you need and see how you can make your sites and apps more welcoming for all users.

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Learn more about accessibility and web design at Generate New York 

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Jim McCauley is a writer, editor and occasional podcaster, and is available for space parties.