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How can I check that an accessibility fix made on my website works with a screen reader?

Sean Needham avatar


Have you ever believed that users of assistive technology can use your site efficiently after some changes, but want to verify that fact for yourself?

Fortunately, there is a free Windows screen reader that you can use. It is called Nonvisual Desktop Access (NVDA) and can be downloaded from http://www.nvaccess.com.

NVDA is easy to install, and it’s relatively easy to learn the basics of its operation.

For example, you can browse the headings on your web page by pressing the letter H to go forward and Shift+H to go backward.

You can browse landmarks on your page by pressing D to go forward and Shift+D to go backward.
In addition, you can see your links in a list by pressing the NVDA key (either Insert or Capslock) +F7.

Of course, there are many NVDA commands – too many for an article of this nature to cover, however, NVDA has an excellent user guide within the tool.

Note: Testing with a screen reader alone does not guarantee accessibility for everyone. Further manual testing – with and without screen readers - is both needed and encouraged.

But what if the error is still flagged on the Siteimprove platform?

Once you have made changes to your site to address an issue, you should recheck the page or wait for a full re-crawl of your site in order for the error to clear. See the article “How to re-crawl a site, a page, multiple pages or a group” for further information on this.

After this, you can take the steps outlined below which are dependent on the version of Accessibility you are using. 

For old Accessibility product

If the issue is still being flagged in the old Accessibility Product., then please review the advice given in the section “How do I meet this criteria?” on the bottom left of the Page report.

How_do_I_meet_this_criteria

For NextGen Accessibility product

If the issue is still being flagged in the Next Generation Accessibility product, then review the advice given in the section “Why is this an issue?” on the left side of the Page report.

Why_is_this_an_issue tab on page report

You can also use the code examples provided on the page report, to get practical examples of code that would pass the check.

code_example on page report

A detailed description of the rules used is available for you on the Siteimprove next-generation Accessibility rules page.

If it is not clear why we are flagging the issue, or you are not sure that you’ve taken the correct steps to solve the issue, then please contact Siteimprove technical support for an explanation or further investigation.

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