Bobby Offline

After over 11 years, the internet standard for accessibility is no more.Bobby Offline
Bobby, the standard for checking web site accessibility since 1996, is no longer “publicly available” from IBM.

The Center for Applied Special Technology, or CAST, sold Bobby to Watchfire in 2002 where it was renamed WebXACT. Watchfire is, now at least, an IBM subsidiary. And now IBM has made WebXACT, né Bobby, part of its “enterprise platform,” striking a crucial blow against making the web accessible.

You can read their explanation for yourself.

There are alternatives, but none work as well as Bobby did.

TAW’s Web Accessibility Test is good, very good, but it lacks Section 508 support. For non-governmental projects, this is probably fine, since WCAG is a stricter standard, but for government work, it’s nice to be able to say you verified the Section 508 guidelines.

CynthiaSays is out of date (its list of browsers stops at the 6.0 series and doesn’t include Firefox) and doesn’t actually check much, though it will give you a list of things to check yourself.

Wave, from WebAIM, presents a much prettier interface, but it doesn’t give you a list of criteria and tell you how you fared, and doesn’t tell you which standards it uses.

And of course, all of these lack the “Bobby Approved” badge that had become so meaningful.