This blog talks about accessibility audits to ensure a website is perceivable, operable, and understandable for people with disabilities. It involves automated and manual checks against guidelines like WCAG 2.0. Audits expand reach, improve SEO, meet legal requirements, and enhance user experience.

Globally, 1.3 billion people experience some kind of disability. You don’t want to lose about 16 percent of the world’s population from becoming visitors to your website.  And to ensure this doesn’t happen, making your website accessible to everyone is important.  Now, how do you know or determine that your website is accessible? The solution lies in understanding how to do an accessibility audit or accessibility testing An accessibility audit means comprehensively testing a web application to ensure that everyone, including people with disabilities, can access its content. It ensures that your website is easily operable, perceivable, and understandable. It also improves productivity and helps you to avoid legal issues.  Besides improving your website performance and usability, a web accessibility audit has many other benefits. It expands your reach to new demographics, improves the SEO for your website, supports internationalization, and helps your business adhere to legal requirements.

Table of Content:

Types of Accessibility Audits

There are two types of audits you can opt for – automated audits and manual audits.

1. Automated Audits

Automated audits are useful for checking the accessibility of websites that have a large number of pages. These types of audits use software that automatically scans your web pages and provides results immediately. These results help you evaluate the accessibility compliance level of your website.

2. Manual Audits

Manual audits require an audit expert to check for access barriers manually across your website. The audit expert simulates the issues people with disabilities may face while checking your website. These types of audits help ensure thorough testing and comprehensive feedback but are extremely time-extensive.  Before choosing either of the two audits, you should check whether they comply with non-negotiable laws, such as Section 508, WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).  Since now you know about the types of audits that exist – let’s find out how you can conduct one. Also Read: What is Web Content Accessibility (WCAG) Audit?

Go through the WCAG 2.0

WCAG 2.0 provides helpful suggestions and rules to make your website and its content more accessible to people who suffer from disabilities such as deafness, photosensitivity, blindness, etc.  For your website to be considered accessible by law, it should meet the four major principles of WCAG 2.0 – perceptible, robustness, understandability, and operability.  More specifically, your website should follow goals like:
  • Alt-text should be present for non-text content. 
  • Content should be easy to find and navigate for users. 
  • Language should be readable and understandable. 
  • Web pages should follow a consistent and predictable pattern. 
  • Content should be presented in different mediums. 

Make a Sample for Web Pages

A crucial step in learning how to audit a website for accessibility is to create a representative sample of web pages from your site. Once you have understood the main aspects of WCAG 2.0, you need to make a sample from every website you have. This sample needs to include the following things:
  • Website homepage
  • Text-based content pages
  • Interactive transactions and tools like forms
  • Pages containing login function
  • Pages with audio, image, video, and pop-up windows
  • PDFs and similar documents embedded in your website
  • Navigation pages containing features like your search feature
  • Pages containing information about how to contact you, your privacy policy, terms and conditions, etc. 

Run Checks on the Sample

1. Begin with WCAG compliance checks on the text-based content pages by checking the following:
  • Your heading is coded and styled properly
  • When the stylesheets are disabled, your pages are still usable
  • Your instructions are displayed appropriately
  • Your links explain the purpose of being there, and it makes sense
  • Your pages are titled properly
2. Now, run audits on the multimedia-based pages by checking the following:
  • Images, along with charts and diagrams, have an alt-text description
  • Video-based content is properly described with subtitles
  • An additional audio explanation is present for image-based content in videos and audio
  • The text contained within images is properly styled
3. Now, run checks on the interactive transactions and tools-based pages by checking the following:
  • Form fields are marked-up correctly
  • Field labels in forms make clear what information the users need to provide
  • Form labels are consistent from one form to another
  • A warning is issued before the users are timed-out
  • When incorrect information is provided, the users receive helpful error messages to help them correct it. 
  • Users are provided with a chance to review their answers before the submission of a form. 
4. Once you are done with the above checks, run checks on the technological aspect of your sample by checking the following:
  • Your website is accessible on all devices, such as a phone, tablets, etc., with flexible page orientation. 
  • Users are able to navigate your website easily with only a keyboard. 
  • Color contrast is set correctly on web pages
  • Pop-ups and flashing content are easy to disable
  • Your website is navigable in different ways
  • The language your web pages are using is correctly specified. 
When you are through with these checks, you can create a WCAG review checklist and then compare it with your WCAG audit to know the areas in which your website’s accessibility is lagging. Doing this will help you prioritize the things you need to improve and help you understand the expense and time it will take to fix the accessibility issues.  Once you are done with this, you can start modifying your website by making changes to it in compliance with the WCAG 2.0 criteria. Also Read: What’s The Difference Between An Accessibility Test And An Accessibility Audit?

The End Note

Conducting an accessibility audit compliant with legal guidelines helps avoid lawsuits, deliver a better user experience, enhance your website’s and business’s reputation, and build brand recognition. An accessibility audit service can ensure a smooth and efficient audit process. However, conducting an audit can be a very time-consuming process. That’s why it’s always better to take the help of accessibility consulting services to conduct audits. For this, you can take the help of Hurix Digital. Hurix provides the best of both worlds – we use software tools and manual intervention for conducting accessibility audits.  Equipped with a team of top-notch IAAP-certified professionals who are well-versed in global accessibility requirements, Hurix also offers WCAG audit reports and VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) reports. Moreover, Hurix helps you improve the accessibility of your website and extend your reach to more people. To have access to the best accessibility solutions, get in touch with us.