There’s no two ways about it: Every website needs to be accessible. But corporations can do much more than throw a poorly thought out accessibility plan at the wall and see what sticks. Instead, decisionmakers at these enterprises should check out some of the amazingly thorough accessibility audits available across the Internet.
What Is An Accessibility Audit?
An accessibility audit is a professional evaluation that gauges how well your website and digital properties meet the needs of people with disabilities. Not only that, this variety of audit checks to see if your site and public-facing content conforms with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) technical standards, while also complying with guidelines from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
A quick glance at your site won’t tell you whether or not you meet these standards, nor does a few minutes actively engaging in your site features tell any kind of accessibility story. An accessibility audit examines every component of your website and tests each one with an expert’s eyes. At the end of the audit you receive a report—and if all goes according to plan, you can be confident that all barriers have been identified and are ready to be addressed.
In order for a website to be considered accessible, it must be capable of being navigated, understood, and perceived by everyone. Whether users have a vision or hearing disability, they should be able to access everything on the site, without exception. This includes users who might use assistive technology, such as screen readers.
There are generally three approaches to an accessibility audit.
An automated test scans your site and delivers a report on your digital asset’s problems with accessibility. An automated testing report flags accessibility barriers and categorizes them based on severity. You’ll also receive an accessibility health score, which can help you track improvements over time.
Building on what you gained from the automated test, manual testing goes after the WCAG criteria that could be missed by automated testing. What’s more, manual testing double checks any potential false positives with human eyes, evaluating certain features in a more in depth way. Some of the elements tested by this manual process include moving content, headings, landmarks, forms, frames, images, rich media, color contrast, and more.
Sometimes the only way to find out if a website is viable for people with disabilities is by actually diving in and attempting to use it. Also sometimes called “usability testing,” functional testing employs people with disabilities to confirm that the accessibility features are, indeed, accessibility. Individuals with disabilities who use assistive technologies can actually get involved in the accessibility audit and ensure that components such as screen readers are interacting properly with a website.
Why Engage In An Accessibility Audit?
Auditing your site with accessibility technology helps your company comply with legal and regulatory requirements, while also setting you up to support internal Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Optimizing your user’s digital experience puts your company in line to meet both of those intrinsically important points.
- Accessibility is the Law: Various global regulations mandate digital accessibility. This includes the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which applies to the private and public sectors and encompasses all areas of life, not just digital communications. Then there’s Section 508 and Section 504, which mandates digital accessibility for federal, and federally-funded agencies.
- Accessibility is Good for Business: There are currently more than 42 million people in the U.S. living with some form of disability. Worldwide, that number is close to 2 billion. That’s a global community of individuals that deserve access to services delivered via the Internet. Not only that, it’s a population that represents a large market opportunity that should not be overlooked.
Sources For An Accessibility Audit
Accessibility has become somewhat of a buzzword across many different industries with a substantial web presence. The prevalence of accessibility has led to the development of world-class accessibility auditing tools, available to corporations of all sizes and sectors.
Here are five of the top accessibility audits that can be deployed on your website, each adhering to WCAG, Section 508, and more.
Having worked with enterprise corporations such as Slack, Shopify, and Walmart, accessibility source Fable offers a suite of services that checks all the boxes on the way to full digital accessibility.
- Essential Accessibility
With an impressive client collection of its own—including Samsung, Marriott, and Hertz—Essential Accessibility brings together technology, processes, people, and legal expertise to transform sites into accessible assets.
Serving immediate accessibility needs as well as ongoing projects, Deque offers a combination of assessments, remediation, and training in a fully tailored program that matches your specific needs and guidelines.
- Level Access
Testing your site with Level Access helps you verify user experience with real people with disabilities. The seasoned accessibility auditing source boasts clients that include Nike, Adobe, Twitter, and Aetna.
With the ultimate goal of full WCAG and ADA web compliance, UseableNet develops a plan for accessibility that meets the long-term needs of multiple clients, including Mattel, JCPenny, Duracell, and many more.
A fully accessible website is an achievable goal. Not only that, accessibility in your online assets is crucial to any corporation’s customer service efforts. The tools for a successful accessibility audit are out there—as are the many reasons to fully engage in accessibility efforts.