Website Accessibility Checking on the Cheap

Options for automated whole-site error scanning abound, but most are cloud-based with subscription models that pound school technology budgets year after year.

Enter SortSite by PowerMapper. SortSite software scans entire websites for a plethora of issues (including PDF accessibility) and generates error reports in 3 different formats. The Developer Edition differs from the regular edition in that it accepts command line input, meaning its use can be scripted. At the time of this writing, SortSite Developer Edition perpetual academic license set us back less than $600.

The support pages at powermapper.com offer good tutorials on automating your scans, and should be reviewed thoroughly. We wanted to take our scans a step further and automate delivery of the scan report to an email inbox. Here’s how we did it:

Following is the text in our ssconfig file, significantly stripped down from the example on PowerMappers website.  Note that we created a directory named Output.

     <Site>
        <!– scan this URL –>
        <ProcessURL>http://www.mischoolweb.org/</ProcessURL>

        <!– for this scope, options are scopePage, scopeFolder or scopeSite –>
        <Scope>scopeSite</Scope>

         <!– save results in this directory – must have a trailing slash –>
         <ReportOutputPath>c:\Output/</ReportOutputPath>

      </Site>

Next, we installed SendEmail,  a command line email utility.  Then, created our batch file, which we set to run once a week with Jenkins, but could easily be scheduled to run via Task Scheduler.  The script also renames the file and appends a date to the name.

rem remove old scan data

rmdir /s /q c:\Output\

rem invoke SortSite

“c:\Program Files (x86)\PowerMapper Software\SortSite      5\SortSiteCmd.exe” C:\Input\mischoolweb.ssconfig

rem rename rich text report file with date appended to name.

ren c:\Output\FullReport-Word.rtf      MiSchoolWeb.WebScanReport._%date:~-4,4%%date:~-7,2%%date:~-10,2%.rtf

rem send the file as an email attachement

c:\SendEmail\sendemail.exe -f webmaster@mischoolweb.org -s       mail.mischoolweb.org:26 -xu sitescanreport@mischoolweb.org -xp secretpassword -t whoever@wherever.org -u Weekly Website Report -m Please find attached files courtesy of MISchoolWeb. -a c:\Output\MiSchoolWeb.WebScanReport._%date:~-4,4%%date:~-7,2%%date:~-10,2%.rtf

SortSite isn’t perfect.  Like all scanning tools, it can’t detect every issue, and oftentimes returns false errors.  But, the price can’t be beat, and it is good.  So what’s our next step?  Automate copying the html formatted report to a web server, then email the link.  Look for that post in the future.

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