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22 Apr, 2024
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3 Ways To Audit Your Website’s Accessibility

Making your website more accessible is only possible once you have a comprehensive understanding of the ways that it falls short of meeting current accessibility recommendations and requirements. Conducting an accessibility audit is the gold standard for determining your site’s level of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) compliance. 

Let’s take a look at three ways to audit your website’s accessibility.


Automated Accessibility Testing

Automated accessibility testing tools are software programs that scan websites for potential accessibility barriers based on established guidelines like the WCAG. These tools can identify a wide range of issues, from missing alternative text on images to insufficient color contrast, and provide actionable recommendations for remediation.

However, it's important to note that automated tests might not catch all accessibility barriers and may generate false positives or miss certain nuanced issues.

While automated tools offer several advantages, they do have limitations, including the:

  • Inability to Capture All Issues: Automated tools might miss certain nuanced accessibility barriers that require human judgment and interpretation.
  • False Positives and Negatives: These tools might generate false positives (flagging non-issues as problems) or false negatives (missing actual accessibility barriers).
  • Lack of Contextual Understanding: Automated tools may not understand the context or intent behind certain design elements, potentially misidentifying accessibility barriers.

Manual Accessibility Testing:

Manual accessibility testing involves a thorough human review of the website's elements, functionalities, and content. Manual testing helps in identifying complex accessibility issues that automated tools might overlook.

While automated tools offer valuable assistance, manual accessibility testing remains an irreplaceable component of building a web that welcomes everyone. By combining human ingenuity with technical expertise, we can create digital spaces where everyone can thrive, leaving no one behind in the online world. Performing manual accessibility tests complements the results from automated tools. 

Manual testing checks for keyboard navigation functionality, ensures proper semantic structure (such as headings and lists), verifies forms and interactive elements, reviews multimedia content for captions or audio descriptions, and assesses color contrast for readability. This hands-on approach allows for a more comprehensive evaluation of the website's accessibility.


User Testing with Individuals with Disabilities

This form of testing involves engaging real users with disabilities, such as blind or visually impaired individuals, to test your website's accessibility. Observing how users with diverse needs interact with your site provides invaluable insights into its usability and effectiveness. This involves inviting individuals with disabilities to navigate the website using assistive technologies like screen readers or voice recognition software and encouraging them to perform typical tasks a user might do on the site. Their feedback highlights specific barriers they encounter, allowing you to address these issues directly.


Follow-through by Addressing Audit Recommendations

After conducting testing sessions with automated programs, manual reviewers, and individuals with disabilities, it's crucial to implement the feedback and insights gathered by:

  • Prioritizing Accessibility Fixes: While there may be multiple deficiencies identified, focusing on improving the most critical areas first is important. Build a strategy for implementing changes based on this priority assessment.
  • Document Recommendations: Maintain a record of identified barriers and suggested improvements, aiding in continuous enhancement of accessibility.
  • Educate Development Teams: Share insights and recommendations across development teams to foster a culture of accessibility and inclusivity.
  • Iterative Design: Utilize an iterative design approach, continuously refining and improving the website based on user testing results and ongoing feedback.

Website accessibility requires a three-fold approach: automated testing for initial checks, manual assessment for a deeper understanding, and involving users with diverse abilities for authentic feedback. These steps, covering automated scans, hands-on evaluation, and real user experiences, collectively ensure a more inclusive digital space. Embracing this triad isn't just about compliance; it's about fostering inclusivity, guaranteeing that every user can navigate and engage effortlessly in the online sphere, irrespective of their abilities.

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