Auditing Your Website for Accessibility

What is web accessibility? According to the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), it’s as follows:

Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can:

– perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web
– contribute to the Web

In a nutshell, the idea behind accessibility is that anyone – regardless of disability or assistive technologies they are using – can use your website. It’s a simple concept, yet it’s only recently that the web has moved towards building sites for everyone.

Accessible Parking Sign

How Accessible Is My Website?

The simple answer is: It requires some testing to find out.

While most websites built within the past few years shouldn’t have major accessibility issues, just about every single one can benefit from some tweaks.

I’ve audited a number of websites over the past few years, using both automated tools and manual techniques. If you’re an existing client and would like me to take a look at your site, please get in touch! I can provide you with a report of recommended changes.

What Does an Accessibility Audit Include?

When I audit a website, I’m looking for the following items in particular:

  • Ensuring that fonts are legible and large enough to read;
  • The color contrast between the foreground and background of content pass WCAG AA Standards;
  • Images use alternative text, where necessary, to provide descriptions for the visually impaired;
  • The website’s navigation has been built with computer-readable text and can be used via a keyboard;

The Good News

If a website is lacking in one or more of these areas, it’s often quite easy to fix! In many cases, it’s an hour or two of labor and re-testing. Obviously, more complex cases may take a bit more effort to rectify.

The Disclaimer

While fixing these types of issues can greatly help your website, there is no guarantee that they will prevent someone from filing a complaint. The main reason is that, while we have some accessibility guidelines, we don’t necessarily have very clear laws on the matter. What counts as “accessible enough” isn’t set in stone.

Sadly, anyone can file a complaint for any reason. That doesn’t mean a complaint would pass muster, but it is the reality of our society.

What You Can Do

First and foremost, making an effort to improve accessibility is vital.

Going beyond that, however, is to place your own disclaimer regarding accessibility on your website. Something like:

Our company is committed to making this website compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We want to ensure that our visitors can access and understand our content.

If, at any time, you have specific questions or concerns about the accessibility of any particular part of our website, please contact us. If you do encounter an accessibility issue, please be sure to specify it in your message. We welcome any feedback on how to improve the site’s accessibility for all users.

At the very least, this statement shows that you are aware of accessibility and want to ensure that folks can use your website. It’s better to engage than enrage 🙂

How Much Will This Cost?

An important question – one that requires a website accessibility audit (which is free for existing clients, by the way). Based on the results of that audit, I can then provide you with a cost to clean up any issues.

One thing to note is that, the older your website is, the more likely we are to find some issues. And, larger sites will require a bit more time and effort to both audit and clean up.

Lastly, remember that accessibility is no longer optional. It is both the right thing to do morally and legally. A few hours spent fixing things up now can make a world of difference.