Recommendations for Accessibility Software

Hey folks,

A client just got in touch asking if we could recommend any accessibility software. It’s not really our forté. Anyone got any suggestions? See enquiry below. Thanks all!

I am emailing to pick your brains about accessibility software. The contract for the one we use for our website – Browsealoud – is up for renewal. It is quite expensive (£2.5kish a year) and before recommitting I just wanted to get a better idea of what is available and what might be possible. I don’t know if this is an area you guys have worked in but I wondered if you had any suggestions for existing products or projects?


This got picked up privately by @maria but she said I could repost in case it is of interest to others:

"SiteImprove is a good service for monitoring and reporting on various aspects of the accessibility of a website. I don’t have extensive experience of it, but I was impressed with how in depth it is able to go - even reporting on the readability of different pages etc. We are interested in building our own, open source version of it, but that’s probably some way off!

However, if I understand correctly, Browsealoud is an add-on to the website itself, giving users of the website different ways to interact with the site.

There is some debate about whether or not these services help or hinder the accessibility experience, however I think the problems are when the underlying site isn’t fit for purpose. Sometimes such plugins are added on to sites that aren’t very accessible in the first place, hoping to magically fix any existing problems. There is an argument that when a site is well built, these services make accessibility more visible - perhaps to people who don’t need assistive technology, but do find websites hard to interact with.

Depending on the needs of your particular users, it might be that you could build the functionality or fixes you need natively into the site for a comparable cost of using their service.

Anyway, I realise I have said a lot but haven’t actually answered the original question - I’m afraid I don’t know of better alternatives, but I believe that Browsealoud is a respectable product. I’ll certainly keep my eyes open, and your question has piqued my interest, so I may delve into it a bit."

Thanks for starting this discussion Polly — this is something we want to do better here at GP and I’m hoping accessibility software of all stripes could be posted here.

I don’t have any alternatives to BrowseAloud (so will be keeping an eye on this thread for cheaper alternatives) but I can recommend this nifty tool Contrast that I use quite a bit for type legibility.

I had to look into this for one of my customers 12+ years ago, and, i haven’t updated that knowledge-base recently, so i know that i may be quoting from situations that have been superseded by newer technologies.

As i understand the accessibility legislation from then, if you were making a W3C compliant website, then the accessibility was built in, via the website-builders having to comply with existing industrial standards.

It used to be the standard compliance set-up for the USA ADA legislation, that a website had to be able to be used in the Lynx web-browser, as it is the standard text-only web-browser, so would be capable of feeding a website straight into a text-to-speech system.

Is this not the case anymore?