How to Run a Web Accessibility Audit

Download Now: Free Web Accessibility Checklist
William Coad



In 2023, having an inclusive and easy-to-follow web product is essential. Your visitors want an easy experience, and you're expected to deliver. That includes making your website inclusive for everyone. A web accessibility audit can help you meet these standards.

person conducts a web accessibility audit on a computer

Having an accessible digital product is in high demand and can set you apart from the competition. Accessibility will only become more important with the growth of digital space.

Let's dive into how you can check for accessibility and the tools that can help.

Download Now: Free Website Accessibility Checklist

Table of Contents

Why Website Accessibility Audits Matter

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 6 people worldwide – experience significant disability. The Pew Research Center found that 75% of people with disabilities use the internet daily in the U.S. alone.

Your digital offerings want to provide an inclusive experience for this large audience. In fact, 38.6% of employees reported that their product’s level of accessibility was called out as a reason for purchase by customers.

Accessibility is also the law across the globe. The U.S. has the Americans with Disabilities Act. The U.K. has The Equality Act. Many other accessibility laws exist globally. Your company needs to be compliant with accessibility laws to avoid lawsuits. An audit will help you evaluate what you’re doing well and where to improve.

Website Accessibility Checklist

This checklist will help you make the following more accessible on your website:

  • Web Pages
  • Navigation
  • Video & Media
  • And More!
Learn more

    Download Free

    All fields are required.

    You're all set!

    Click this link to access this resource at any time.

    Legal Concerns

    There are increasing litigation and regulations set in place that require accessibility. The ADA and Section 508 (a 1986 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) have these requirements. Your legal team can highlight the financial risks of a lawsuit.

    In 2022 alone, 3,255 lawsuits were filed — a 12% increase over 2021. An audit can help you mitigate these risks and improve your user experience.

    Digital accessibility audit, graphic showing issues to website accessibility: temporary accessibility barrier, device issues, situational, accessibility barrier, bandwidth issues.

    Image Source

    The main precedent for these cases is the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) versus Target. The lawsuit alleged that the business giant violated the California Unruh Civil Rights Act and the ADA fair treatment for disabilities provision. The case highlighted the importance of fair treatment for all disability types.

    Target eventually settled with a $6 million lawsuit. Target also committed to monitoring the accessibility of their stores by the NFB for three years. The company also trained web designers to include accessibility features and fair treatment.

    Serving All Clients

    With that being said, it's not all about compliance. A considerable portion of the world’s population has a disability. Auditing your website and digital products will help you improve your accessibility so you can serve more clients.

    According to the WHO, 15% of the world’s population has a disability, while 26% of the U.S. population does. If you want to serve all people who come looking to do business with you, it’s imperative to make sure your online assets are inclusive.

    Improved SEO

    Web accessibility is not only important for people with disabilities, but it also has many benefits for search engine optimization (SEO). When web accessibility in mind, search engine crawlers can more easily read and understand the content on your site. This is crucial for ranking well in search results.

    Accessible websites typically have descriptive alt tags, title tags, and headings, which help search engines understand the purpose and relevance of the content. Additionally, accessibility features such as transcripts and video captions can provide keyword-rich content that can boost SEO.

    When should you run an accessibility audit?

    The earlier, the better. If you are just establishing yourself in the webspace or even planning a redesign, take the opportunity to run an audit. Not only will you ensure equality for all users, but you can also point out glaring issues that may have been missed in the initial design.

    Digital accessibility audit displaying the results of an audit.

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    Types of Web Accessibility Audits

    There are two main types of digital accessibility audits you should focus on:

    • Manual accessibility.
    • Automated accessibility.

    We'll explore each below.

    Manual Accessibility Audits

    These audits can be the most beneficial, as they are the more thorough of the two. Manual access audits give you the ability to test compatibility for keyboards, screen readers, and devices alike. You can get an in-depth look into the format of your current organization’s page.

    The only drawback is that the manual audit requires a specialist, which can be costly. But considering the repercussions of an inaccessible website, we think the expense is justified.

    Automated Accessibility Audits

    The automated audit is exactly how it sounds, automated. Basically, you use a service to plug in your organization’s web information. This seven then scans your site for potential risks.

    These audits are less thorough, so if Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) compliance is what you're aiming for, an automated audit won’t be enough on its own.

    Alternatively, you can do a hybrid web audit that combines the automated functions with a specialist reviewing the progress and checking for at-risk areas.

    Website Accessibility Checklist

    This checklist will help you make the following more accessible on your website:

    • Web Pages
    • Navigation
    • Video & Media
    • And More!
    Learn more

      Download Free

      All fields are required.

      You're all set!

      Click this link to access this resource at any time.

      How to Conduct a Web Accessibility Audit

      First, review this comprehensive checklist to make sure you cover all aspects of web accessibility. Then, a reliable web accessibility audit tool is a must. Features to look for in a good tool are:

      • The ability to perform audits on all types of web content, including HTML, PDFs, and media files.
      • The ability to provide detailed recommendations for fixing found issues.
      • The ability to handle large websites with multiple subdomains.
      • Can Identify issues and compile them in accordance with WCAG.

      Web Content Types

      Making sure the tool you select is capable of handling the job load no matter how big is paramount. Websites and digital products alike come in a range of formats. Make sure your tools have the ability to efficiently manage all types of media on your site. This including HTML, PDFs, and media files.

      Detailed Recommendations

      Knowing is half the battle. If your tool is not giving accurate or detailed information about your audit, it's going to fail. When selecting your auditing tool and services, verify that it includes detailed read-outs of the issues. Your auditing tool should also give recommendations on how to fix them.

      Websites With Subdomains

      Making sure the tool is capable of handling your organization is equally important. It's not enough to just pick a program and go with it. The tool needs to be able to handle the size and volume of your website and all of its subdomains.

      WCAG Standards

      Most importantly, you want to be sure that the resolutions your tool offers comply with legal standards(as that's what the audit is for).

      Ensure that the tool will compile the data and base recommendations on the WCAG for compliance. This will make sure your organization maintains compliance and makes consistent improvements.

      Check out these tools to find the one which is best fit for your needs.

      What to Look for During Your Audit

      During your audit, you want to focus on WCAG compliance, making sure your organization‘s digital services fit those guidelines. Pay attention to the detailed explanations of the tool you’ve selected. When your audit is complete, you can maintain accessibility by assigning roles within your organization dedicated to these standards.

      Focusing on the detailed recommendations made by your audit tool will also go a long way. Areas that need the most improvement should be your first focus. The audit will provide you with a clear picture of what you need to do to reach compliance standards.

      Web accessibility audit chart: Middle circle says, “Digital accessibility focus.” It’s surrounded by other circles which say, “Accessibility assessment,” “accessibility audit,” “remediation,” “document remediation,” “accessibility certification VPAT,” and “Accessibility assurance program.”

      Image Source

      Getting Started with Accessibility Audits

      Being inclusive is a must for businesses today. Not only is it required by law, but it also helps you reach and serve more clients.

      Start with a digital accessibility audit to see what you’re doing well and where you need to improve. Remember, widget tools and overlays do not equal compliance. Put in the extra effort to create a meaningful experience from the ground up.

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