When it comes to assessing the functionality of a website, one of the things that needs to be assessed is its accessibility.
What does that mean? In plain English, it means ensuring that your website is accessible to people who have disabilities and would struggle to access the website if they were to do so with traditional means.
So, when you are conducting a website accessibility audit, what does that usually involve?
First, it may only be part of your website that needs to be audited, or you may be performing an accessibility audit of the entire site. Either way, you need to define the parameters and set out the accessibility testing tools that you are going to use. To do this, you will need to hire a team of auditors, which will usually be composed of website developers and testers who have disabilities. At this stage, you will also need to determine whether you are going to use automatic or manual testing.
This is a fast way to narrow down the issues a website may have with its accessibility.
Indeed, these tools can identify key issues such as missing alt text, incorrect or improper heading structures, and so on. They can also generate reports, which will highlight the part of the website that needs attention.
This is where you will need to call in those website developers that were mentioned earlier. They will conduct a thorough assessment of your website using WCAG guidelines, as well as using commonly used devices that those who have disabilities use, like screen readers. If there are any videos on your website, this kind of testing will make sure that there are captioning or transcripts, too.
Now, on to the content that is on your website.
This will typically be made up of text, videos, images, and other kinds of media. An accessibility review will ensure that all of it complies with current accessibility standards and that any documents on the site, like PDFs, can be edited or viewed in different formats, which will allow zooming in.
It may seem obvious, but the content on your website may not be very readable, thus making it challenging for people who have learning disabilities to comprehend. So, this will also need to be assessed and altered as required.
So, when the website has been reviewed, what do you do? In an ideal world, you implement all of the changes, but this may involve taking the website down, which is not ideal for your SEO or potential sales. This can lead to a sticking point based on what steps to take next with upgrading the accessibility of your website.
You need to prioritize the issues found based on their ease of remediation and their impact on the website itself. This is best done by cataloging all of the issues by their severity and ensuring that once the issues have been remedied, they are tested both manually and automatically.