WAVE Guide

Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool

What is WAVE?

WAVE is a web evaluation tool that provides feedback about the current accessibility of your web pages. The feedback you receive is based on Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 A and AA standards and can make diagnosing your accessibility issues easier.

While WAVE provides plenty of good feedback, it can never replace manual testing of your page content.

How do I use this tool?

There are two ways to use this tool:

  1. Go to the official WAVE website and enter a web address in the provided search bar
  2. Install the WAVE browser extension and scan any web page you are visiting

Many people find the browser extension to be the most convenient option, but there are times when you won't have access to install a browser extension, so the official website still serves a purpose.

WebAIM provides their own quick reference for using WAVE for website testing.

How do I read a WAVE Report?

WAVE accessibility evaluator showing errors and alerts for google.com

Indicator Levels

WAVE creates a full report that includes information for developers. For regular users, you really need to pay attention to the errors marked with red and yellow icons. These are called errors and alerts.

  1. Errors are marked in red and are considered major issues that need to be fixed on your web page. 
  2. Alerts are marked with yellow indicators and are potential issues that will affect your site visitors. However, the scanner's logic is less certain that these are critical issues.

Of the two types of accessibility reports, red errors should be prioritized before yellow alerts.  These errors, alerts and contrast errors all have explanations within WAVE via built in help documentation.  The WAVE website also has documentation for each error.

Contrast Errors

WAVE will also inform you if your color choices are not meeting WCAG 2.0 AA contrast standards. For specific information, view our color contrast guide.

Features, Structural Elements and HTML5 & ARIA Reports

These areas of the WAVE report are for developers and UI/UX designers and can be ignored by content editors.

I cannot find the error on my page!

If you click on an error in the left-hand column of WAVE and it does not immediately take you to the area on the page where the error/alert exists, then it may be an error detected in the source code. At this point, you should click the No Styles menu to see if the error being reported is part of a visually hidden element.

If you still cannot see the error, then it might be a template error that may not be available for you to fix. Please report any potential template errors to Gato Support Staff.

Please note: some errors may be hidden in the sidebar of your webpage. Ensure that you make your sidebar visible if you cannot find an error on the page.

Pope Tech (Dinolytics)

The university uses Pope Tech to run full site scans and issue reports to site owners and managers about their websites. This report can run on a schedule and be emailed directly to authorized individuals without any special login credentials or access.

This tool keeps historic data so that you can track your progress and understand how to schedule your resources to keep up with new errors as they are introduced by editors. 

Since it incorporates WAVE into its software, the scans are easy to read and provide plenty of guidance about the importance of the accessibility issues being discovered.

Still having trouble?

This topic and more are covered in our accessibility training course. Continue to our training page for more information.