Why Your Business Needs an Accessibility Audit
An accessibility audit is a thorough review of your website to check how accessible it is for all users, including those with disabilities.
Your website serves as your virtual storefront, and just like any physical space it should be accessible to everyone. An accessibility audit is your roadmap to inclusivity, a comprehensive evaluation that pinpoints how user-friendly and accessible your website is for all visitors–especially those with disabilities.
An accessibility audit may be focused on basic user experience, or it may be more in depth to ensure that your site complies with international accessibility guidelines, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). If you think of your website as a 24/7 storefront, an accessibility audit ensures that no one is left standing outside the door. But moreover, having an accessible website isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also a legal requirement and a smart business strategy that broadens your audience while minimizing the risk of costly litigation.
What’s Included in A Website Accessibility Audit
Every audit will vary, based on the size of the website, the platform it was built on, and its intended audience. Here’s a list of what an accessibility audit usually involves:
Step 1: Preliminary Research
- Define Objectives: Determine the goals of the audit, such as compliance with specific standards like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
- Identify Scope: Decide which parts of your website will be audited. This could be the entire site or just key pages and functionalities.
Step 2: Automated Testing
- Run Automated Tests: Use automated testing tools to scan your website for common accessibility issues.
- Compile Results: Document the results as a basis for further in-depth testing.
Step 3: Manual Testing
- Keyboard Navigation: Test if all features can be accessed without a mouse.
- Screen Reader Testing: Use screen readers to check if all elements are appropriately labeled and navigable.
- Browser Compatibility: Test the website’s accessibility features across different browsers to ensure consistent performance.
Step 4: Color Contrast and Visual Elements
- Check Color Contrast: Make sure there is sufficient contrast between text and background colors.
- Review Visual Indicators: Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.
Step 5: Forms, Fields, and CTA Buttons
- Label Forms: Check that all forms and fields are labeled for accessibility.
- Accessible CTA: Ensure Call to Action (CTA) buttons are easily navigable and can be triggered using a keyboard.
Step 6: Multimedia Elements
- Subtitles and Transcripts: Ensure that videos and audio content have subtitles or transcripts.
- Alt Text for Images: Confirm that all images have descriptive alt text.
Step 7: Language and Readability
- Page Language: Ensure that the language of the page is specified in the code.
- Readable Text: Check the readability of the text. Use plain language where possible.
Step 8: Document Findings and Recommendations
- Compile a Report: Create a detailed report that outlines your findings, including issues and recommendations for each issue identified.
Step 9: Review with Stakeholders
- Present Findings: Review the audit results with all key stakeholders, including web developers and content managers.
Step 10: Plan for Remediation
- Create an Action Plan: Based on the audit findings, create an action plan to rectify the issues.
Your Accessibility Audit is Just the First Step
An accessibility audit is the first step in an ongoing process of maintaining an accessible website. Once your website has been audited, you will need to work with your website developer or website agency to make changes as outlined in your audit.
Accessibility is an ongoing task, which you need to continue to monitor as you make changes and additions to your website. You should put a plan in place to regularly review and update your site to ensure it remains compliant with accessibility standards.