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HTML_Code Sniffer is a free product that detects accessibility violations and potential violations on behalf of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the U.S. Section 508 regulation. “HTML_CodeSniffer is a client-side script that checks HTML source code and detects violations of a defined coding standard.” (HTML_CodeSniffer). HTML_CodeSniffer allows researchers to run reports with four different standards. The report includes a description of the errors, warnings, and notices a webpage has.
The U.S. Section 508 regulation standards “define the types of technology covered and set forth provisions that establish a minimum level of accessibility” (Quick Reference Guide to Section 508). The criteria for web-based technology and information are based on access guidelines developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium. The standards aim to ensure that information like website graphics or animation is also available in an accessible format.“Generally this means use of text labels or descriptors for graphics and certain format elements (HTML already provides an “Alt 11 Text” tag for graphics which can serve as a verbal descriptor for graphics)” (Quick Reference Guide to Section 508). WCAG is a wide range of recommendations for making web content more accessible. Content will be more accessible to a wider range of disabilities, “including blindness and low vision, deafness & hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these” (Web Accessibility Initiative).
These guidelines cover a wide range of issues but they are not able to address the needs of people with all types, degrees, and combinations of disabilities. In addition, WCAG’s guidelines make web content more usable by older individuals with changing abilities due to aging and often improve usability for users in general.