Digital Accessibility Audits: Dos and Don’ts

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Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

There’s a general misconception in the world of web accessibility about the way digital accessibility audits should be carried out, with many holding the belief that manual audits are better. 

Well, I beg to differ. The thing about web accessibility is that web technologies are incredibly dynamic. Furthermore, regulatory laws are constantly being reviewed, and with each review comes new recommendations. In 2018, the European Standards Organizations published an updated version of the EN 301 549 “Accessibility requirements for ICT products and services”, in which they referenced the WCAG 2.1 directly; as opposed to the previous version which merely included WCAG 2.0 as an “electronic attachment”.

The only way to consistently stay compliant and provide the best possible accessible experience for your customers is with the help of automated web accessibility solutions that can adapt to any changes in technology and regulations, and fast too.

What Is an Accessibility Audit and Why Should I Audit My Website?

An accessibility audit is a detailed analysis of a website (both background and foreground elements) to determine whether it is up to acceptable web accessibility standards. Based on the region where you are, there might be some regulations requiring web content to be accessible to people with disabilities. The generally accepted reference material for website accessibility is the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidleines).

WCAG is an international standard created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an active community of the foremost accessibility specialists and organizations. Although WCAG compliance is not a legal requirement on its own nor is WCAG specifically cited in the ADA as the technical standard to follow, it would still benefit your organization to strive for WCAG compliance. The WCAG standard has been tried and tested and is under routine development by accessibility experts, making it a reliable standard.  

I’ll be straight with you, you’re required by the law to enable people with disabilities to access your website. But for your website to be made accessible it first has to go through an audit process to identify the extent to which it doesn’t meet the WCAG standards. Now, for the most part, it’s best to aim for WCAG 2.0 level AA. You can aim higher if you like, but you’ll be safe if your website meets the WCAG 2.0 level AA standards.

Recommendations for Digital Accessibility Audits

Make It an Iterative Part of the Web Development Process

A web accessibility audit is best done when your website is being developed, so that appropriate fixes can be initiated. However, if you didn’t do it during the development process, you can still do it here on Equally AI. We’ll give you a standard audit for free with elaborate reports and recommendations for fixes.

Perform Audits Regularly as You Scale

Accessibility audits don’t end after you comply with the WCAG standards. As long as your website experiences growth, the tendency to break something exists. Make accessibility audits a regular part of your yearly plan. You can’t be too careful; you don’t want to receive a demand letter after your latest website upgrade. Endeavor to perform frequent audits and fixes.

Establish Internal Standing Policies

Educate your staff on accessibility best practices. Organize webinars to demonstrate the importance of web accessibility in your operations procedures.

Incorporate your accessibility goals into other policies and procedures. Thus, responsibility will be spread, and accessibility will become a daily part of life.

Regularly Consult with People Who Have disabilities

This is a very important practice that a lot of companies overlook. Every now and then, you should invite web accessibility consultants who have disabilities to test your systems for conformance. No one knows the difficulties related to navigating an inaccessible website like people who use screen readers and other assistive technologies.

Don’t

Think You Can Handle It All by Yourself

A web accessibility audit is a complex and iterative process. You may not be able to handle all the intricacies and technicalities it has. Don’t make the mistake of performing an audit by yourself without the insight of a trained professional or a web accessibility solution. You run the risk of relying on false results to fix your website. A demand letter might just be knocking at the door.

Assume It’s a One-off Process

As mentioned earlier, a web accessibility audit is not a one-off process. You can’t simply perform an audit, make the recommended fixes and forget all about it. Well, actually you can if you’re using an automated web accessibility solution like Equally AI.

Key Takeaways 

  • A web accessibility audit is an iterative process of analyzing a website to determine its level of conformance to established guidelines.
  • It’s best done by experts who can handle your website as you scale.
  • Performing an audit by yourself may predispose you to legal risks.
  • Making your website accessible is the right thing to do and it begins with an accessibility audit

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