When Watchfire bought out the industry-standard accessibility checker, Bobby, a few notable things happened:
- The online service was restricted such that only a small number of validation tests could be performed online by any given user within a certain timeframe
- The free downloadable application (Bobby 3.2) was removed from the site, never to be seen again.
- To get a standalone application you’d have to buy the WebXM module as part of the Watchfire site management suite.
Now, this is all fine if you are in a large company that is happy to invest in such tools, but for the individual who cares about making his or her site accessible, this reduced options somewhat. There are other checkers online, I hear you cry, such as Cynthia Says, Ask Alice, The Wave and Webthing. What about offline? You could use Lift (as a plug-in for Dreamweaver or FrontPage) or A-Prompt to help author and check accessible pages. But there’s a new kid on the block to watch out for …
WaiZilla is an XUL-based accessibility checker that will integrate with Mozilla browsers (such as Netscape 7, Firebird and … erm Mozilla) and provide instant checks on local and online pages; it will also work on Windows, Mac and Linux. As project head honcho Tim Roberts puts it: "WaiZilla will be an open source implementation of an accessibility validation tool. Open source meaning it doesn’t cost 99 dollars."
The tool is not yet available for download, but Tim is looking for volunteers to help with this exciting project – more information about WaiZilla is available on this thread, along with Tim’s appeal for help. So, if you’re an XUL dude or a WCAG guru with some spare time on your hands, drop Tim a line and you can do your bit to further the cause of web standards.
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