Today, we’re going to discuss how to use an accessibility overlay tool to improve user experience. An accessibility overlay tool is software that allows you to see the website or application as it would look for people with disabilities. This is important because it can help you identify and fix any potential problems users with disabilities might experience when using your website or application.
There are a number of different accessibility overlay tools available. Still, we’re going to be focusing on three in particular: Accessibility Viewer for Firefox, Chrome Accessibility Developer Tools, and Microsoft’s Inspect Element. Each of these tools has its strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to experiment with them all to find the one that works best for you.
Let’s go ahead and start looking at each tool, one by one.
Accessibility Viewer For Firefox
The first accessibility overlay tool is Accessibility Viewer for Firefox. It’s really easy to use an overlay that allows you to view the web page as it would look in the eyes of those with disabilities. All you have to do is right-click on the page and select “Inspect Element” from the menu that appears. In the window that pops up, click on the toolbox icon in the upper right-hand corner to reveal a list of tools, then scroll down until you find Accessibility Viewer. Click it to turn it on. Once activated, Accessibility Viewer will appear in the upper left-hand corner.
Chrome’s Accessibility Developer Tools
Now let’s look at Chrome’s Accessibility Developer Tools, which is very similar to the one built into Firefox. To activate it, right-click on the page and select “Inspect Element” from the menu that appears. This will open up a side panel with several tools, but the one we’re looking for is called Accessibility Developer Tools. Click it to activate. Once activated, the tool will appear in the upper right-hand corner of your browser’s toolbar.
Microsoft Inspect Element
The last tool we will look at is Microsoft’s Inspect Element, which is available for Internet Explorer and Edge. To activate it in IE or Edge, right-click on the page until a context menu appears. Then click “Inspect element” (in IE) or “Analyze element” (in Edge). A new tab will open up within your browser, and the tool will appear as a floating toolbar at the top.
Other Tools to Consider
In addition to the above three overlay tools, you can use many other tools to view a page as it would appear for those with disabilities. Here’s a quick list of some that experts recommend:
- The Accessibility Toolbar for Chrome & Firefox (free)
- ChromeVox (free, but not as good as the tools listed above)
- HighContrast (free, but not as good as the tools listed above)
- iPhone mobile Safari mobile browser on the desktop computer.
Final Thoughts on Accessibility Overlay Tools
From the above list, you can see quite a few options available to you. But what should you choose? Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer to this question. The best one for you is the one that works the best for your workflow and feels most comfortable to use. Of course, you’ll need to experiment with all of them first.