Website accessibility has become increasingly important in recent years as more people rely on the internet to access information and services. Accessible websites allow people with disabilities to use the web more easily, improving their quality of life and ensuring they are not excluded from important opportunities. However, only a small percentage of websites are fully accessible. To discover whether your website is accessible, you need to perform an accessibility audit on it.
What is an accessibility audit?
An accessibility audit is a process of evaluating a website’s compliance with accessibility standards and guidelines. The most common set of guidelines, WCAG 2.1, has different levels (A, AA, and AAA) that indicate the type of elements to be optimized for accessibility.
Performing an accessibility audit helps you identify areas where the website falls short and provides recommendations for improving accessibility. An effective accessibility audit looks beyond what the user can see on the browser and analyzes the HTML code. An accessibility audit can help your organization ensure that your website is accessible to all users and comply with legal requirements.
What are the benefits of performing an accessibility audit?
An accessibility audit can be costly and time-consuming. However, the benefits outweigh the costs. There are many benefits of conducting an accessibility audit for a website.
1. Expanded reach
First and foremost, an accessibility audit ensures that people with disabilities can visit your website and enjoy your content. By improving accessibility, organizations can reach a wider audience and ensure that everyone has equal access to their content and services.
2. Compliance with accessibility laws
Secondly, conducting an accessibility audit can help organizations comply with legal requirements. Many countries have laws and regulations that require websites to be accessible to people with disabilities. For example, in the United States, Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that websites be accessible to people with disabilities, and failure to comply with the ADA can result in legal action. Conducting an accessibility audit can help organizations identify areas where they are not compliant with legal requirements and take steps to improve accessibility.
3. Improved user experiencež
Thirdly, an accessibility audit can improve the overall user experience of a website. By identifying and fixing accessibility issues, organizations can make their website more user-friendly and easier to navigate for all users. This can result in increased user engagement and satisfaction, which can lead to increased traffic and revenue.
How to conduct an accessibility audit
There are several steps involved in conducting an accessibility audit. The first step is to select an accessibility standard to use as a benchmark for the audit. Some common accessibility standards include the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Section 508 Standards developed by the U.S. government.
The next step is to evaluate the website against the standard. This is typically done using automated testing tools that scan the website for accessibility issues. These tools can identify issues such as missing alt text for images, lack of keyboard accessibility, and incorrect use of headings. However, you must remember that automated testing tools can only identify a subset of accessibility issues, and manual testing is also necessary.
The third step in conducting an accessibility audit is to perform manual testing. This involves using assistive technologies, such as screen readers and voice recognition software, to test the website for accessibility. Manual testing can identify issues that automated tools may miss, such as issues with color contrast or complex interactions.
After you have evaluated your website, the next step is to compile a list of accessibility issues and prioritize them based on severity. Issues that prevent users from accessing important content or completing essential tasks should be given the highest priority.
The final step in conducting an accessibility audit is to develop a plan for addressing the identified issues. This may involve making changes to the website’s design, content, or code. For example, alt text may need to be added to images, keyboard accessibility may need to be improved, or headings may need to be restructured. It is important to involve web developers and designers in this process to ensure that changes are made effectively and efficiently.
Accessibility audit for a more inclusive internet
In conclusion, conducting an accessibility audit is an important step in ensuring that a website is accessible to all users and complies with legal requirements. An accessibility audit can improve the user experience, increase engagement and revenue, and ensure that people with disabilities can benefit from online opportunities. By following the steps outlined above, organizations can conduct a thorough accessibility audit and develop a plan for improving accessibility on their website.