When accessibility comes up in relation to business, we’re quick to think of wheelchair ramps and handicap accessible bathrooms. But with so much business happening online and via smartphone, making digital landscapes accessible is just as important as doing so in our brick and mortar locations.
Importance of Website Accessibility
Website accessibility isn’t just the right thing to do so that our digital landscape can serve all populations; it is a vital step in protecting businesses from legal battles.
In 2018, website accessibility lawsuits filed in federal courts exploded to at least 2,258 – a 177 percent increase over 2017. High-profile cases such as that of a blind man who is suing Domino’s Pizza because he was unable to place an order online or through their mobile app are bringing the issue to the mainstream.
As more and more customers pay attention to website accessibility, now is the time to start considering the accessibility of your business’s website. The place to start is with an audit, which is used to determine what changes are necessary to bring your site into compliance.
Website Accessibility Guidelines
While the US government has not yet released federal standards for website accessibility, the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are considered the industry standard and provide a detailed explanation of what is required for a website to be compliant.
These guidelines are broken down into three different levels of accessibility:
- Level A – basic accessibility features
- Level AA – addresses the most common barriers for disabled users
- Level AAA – the most complex level of web accessibility
Our team recommends striving for Level AA website accessibility at the least, which ensures most users with disabilities are able to navigate and utilize the functionality of your website. For some businesses, it will also make sense to integrate some or all of the additional requirements of AAA accessibility.
How to Run a Quick Accessibility Audit
When it comes to accessibility audits, quick and thorough don’t happen simultaneously.
A quick audit can provide a list of issues needing to be resolved in order to reach accessibility, but some issues can only be determined with a more detailed and time-consuming audit conducted by a professional. That said, starting with a quick, automated audit can be a good way to determine how significant your accessibility problems are.
There are a number of automated tools available to quickly check the accessibility of your website, providing that first step in knowing what changes are necessary to be WCAG compliant.
Our team recommends the following tools for their level of detail and ease of use:
Accessibility Audit Tools:
- Chrome Developer Tools: This tool is built into the Chrome browser and provides a variety of audits including an accessibility audit. It can determine if the page’s elements are properly marked-up for screen readers.
- WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool): This website offers a free audit of individual pages and does a great job at breaking down accessibility issues by order of importance and giving clear analysis of where each issue can be found on the page.
- WebAIM: Color contrast plays a big role in accessibility, as it can determine how legible a website’s copy is. This is our favorite tool for checking contrast.
At Oneupweb, our user experience, website design, SEO and development teams are all well-versed in accessibility. We conduct in-depth accessibility reviews that dive deeper than any automated tool is able to. We’re able to identify accessibility issues directly related to the functionality of the website.