Website Accessibility Checklist and Testing Tools
One of the greatest things you can do for your customers is to create a website that is fully accessible. It may seem like a daunting task, but having a website accessibility checklist on hand to reference as you build your site can help to alleviate any confusion and ensure that the proper steps are being taken to establish full accessibility compliance.
According to the CDC, approximately 61 million Americans – or 1 in 4 U.S. adults – live with some type of disability, which means there’s a pretty good chance your target audience includes individuals who fall within that demographic and who may require certain accommodations when navigating the web. And, just as certain types of brick-and-mortar locations are required to provide accommodations for individuals of all abilities, so too are their online counterparts. Fortunately, there are several really useful accessibility testing tools that, when combined with our website accessibility checklist below, can aid in making sure you are providing all of your website visitors with the best experience possible.
Web Accessibility Testing Tools
The World Wide Web Consortium lists on its website 132 different accessibility testing tools that can be used to evaluate your site. One of the most popular ones – which happens to be a completely free ADA compliance checker – is webaim.org’s WAVE tool. The WAVE tool scans your site for accessibility issues, including missing alt tags, styles and more, and then it highlights any areas that are not in compliance.
However, as useful as the WAVE tool is, no automated accessibility testing tools will ever be 100 percent accurate. As such, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the latest accessibility compliance requirements and utilize the WAVE tool as a complement to the checklist below.
Website Accessibility Checklist
- Label all images with alt text. Alternative text, or alt text, is plain text that is assigned to a photo. It allows a screen reader or similar technology to help hard-of-sight individuals determine what is on the screen. In order for these tools to “read” images, the images must be labeled on the back end with alt-text tags that describe the images in question.
- Allow for text resizing. When you design your site to accommodate text resizing, it means that a user can enable the text-only zoom in his or her browser, and the overall layout will remain the same and the site can still be navigated as intended. On text-heavy pages, like a blog post, it’s a good idea to offer a dedicated text-only version so the user can manipulate the copy however they need to for optimal readability.
- Design a high-contrast version of your site. Some individuals – including those with certain types of colorblindness ¬– have a difficult time differentiating between subtle color differences and are unable to read text that is too close in color to its background. You can make your site more visually accessible to these individuals by creating an alternate version of your site that is designed with extra contrast between elements, especially action items and blocks of text.
- Slow down flashing and blinking elements. For some people with epilepsy, flickering lights and flashes can trigger seizures. To avoid this risk, any website content that flashes or blinks should do so at a slow rate.
- Don’t forget about audio and video. Number one on the video accessibility checklist is captions, or subtitles, which allow someone who can’t hear what’s being said to understand what is happening in a video. Similarly, providing alt text on videos – just like with images – gives critical information about the video to someone who can’t see.
- Hire a website compliance expert. By hiring a website developer who is experienced in accessibility to review – or even build from scratch – your website’s HTML code and CSS, you have someone in your corner who can help you clean up any outdated code and ensure that best practices are being followed. They are your first and last line of defense against noncompliance.
Website accessibility is an important matter for any business that serves the public, and it is one that should be taken seriously. To ensure your website complies with all of the latest web accessibility regulations, first measure your site against our website accessibility checklist and then give us a call to learn more about how the team at Paradigm can help you fix your noncompliance issues.