A website accessibility audit is the process of assessing a digital property to see how well it accommodates the needs of people with disabilities. Such individuals often engage with the web in ways that are different from people without disabilities. If a website does not conform to accessibility web standards, people with disabilities will often have a frustrating and fruitless experience online.
People with disabilities sometimes rely on assistive technology to use the web. For example, users with visual impairments often use an assistive technology called a screen reader, which will convert text on a web page to audio output they can hear. They rely on a keyboard rather than a mouse to navigate through websites and accomplish tasks. If a site is set up to accommodate screen readers, the visually impaired person’s experience will be comparable to that of an individual without an impairment.
Another scenario for accommodating users with disabilities is more well-known: closed captioning. Most people are familiar with closed captions, having seen them on televisions at crowded bars, airports, doctor’s waiting rooms, etc. While the previously mentioned use cases for closed captions are helpful for people without hearing difficulties, deaf and hard of hearing individuals rely on closed captions for an experience that is similar to those with hearing. If a website has a video, including an option for closed captions ensures that everyone will be able to understand the content.
These are just a few examples of what experts conducting an accessibility audit will look for during the process.
How to conduct an accessibility audit and review
As you can see, there are many scenarios that can play out to accommodate users with disabilities. It can feel daunting to attempt to try to identify them all. Luckily, you don’t have to. An accessibility audit relies on what are known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to form the basis of the review. These guidelines are created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international assemblage of individuals who develop standards to propagate long-term web growth. Over several years, the W3C has released three versions of WCAG, the most recent being WCAG 2.1.
An individual looking to conduct an accessibility audit will run tests on a sampling of web pages that have enough diversity to represent the entire website. He or she will determine how well these web pages conform to WCAG success criteria. Like any other review, an accessibility audit can be comprehensive or high-level, depending on budget, resources, and time allowed to conduct the audit. TPGi offers a few types of accessibility reviews that will enable an organization with any size budget to get a better sense of the accessibility of its digital assets.
Tools for an accessibility audit and review
Individuals conducting a manual accessibility audit have a host of accessibility testing tools at their disposal. One such accessibility testing tool, ARC Toolkit, was created and is used by experts at TPGi for our accessibility reviews. If choosing tools to conduct an accessibility audit seems overwhelming, you can read more about the accessibility testing tools utilized by our experts on our blog.
Conducting an accessibility audit does require a certain level of proficiency with the concepts and fundamentals of digital accessibility in order to be a worthwhile endeavor. If you’re looking for guidance or an external resource to carry out an accessibility audit on your website, contact TPGi today.