What to Expect When Your Business's Website Is Audited for Accessibility
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What to Expect When Your Business's Website Is Audited for Accessibility
Kate Gingold
/ Categories: The Sprocket Report

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What to Expect When Your Business's Website Is Audited for Accessibility

Chances are good your website is not ADA accessible, but you may be unaware of the fact until you get it audited. Here’s what you will find out:

We mentioned last time that July is Disability Pride Month, making this a perfect time to talk about how websites should comply with the American with Disabilities Act. (ADA) If you are not sure how your website performs, you can have it audited to identify problems so they can be corrected.

What an audit looks for

An ADA compliance audit measures your website against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Technology moves fast, so there are occasional changes to the Guidelines. As of this writing, the current standard is WCAG 2.2.

Your website may be Compliant or Non-compliant. Non-compliance will be further detailed by the number of problems as well as the severity of those problems. Some items on the checklist may not be relevant to your website and they won’t count against you.

The three disabilities addressed

WCAG seeks to address difficulties for website users with three kinds of disability: Vision, Motor, and Cognitive.

Correction for vision disabilities makes up the greatest portion of the audit checklist. Modifying your design for poor vision is one thing, but you also need to consider how your website works with screen-reading technology for those who have no vision.

Correcting for motor disabilities also has to do with design but in different ways from vision modification. Modifications for cognitive disabilities include good website structure and well-written content, which helps everyone.

Website elements that are evaluated

Readability is the main issue on a website. For those with poor vision, including people with color blindness or who need reading glasses, font sizes need to be big enough and well-spaced to be easily read. The contrast between the text color and the background should be 4.5 to 1. None of that green text on a red background for the holidays!

People who use screen-reading technology have extra problems with web pages. Screen-readers narrate all the text on a page, even if it’s unimportant to the user like tracking code for marketing purposes. Modifications behind the scenes can help users skip to the main sections of your website such as Menu or Home.

Graphics are another big issue for screen-readers. They can identify that there is an image, but they can’t explain what the image is. Every graphic such as logos, photos, and decorative elements should be identified using text, including any text that appears in the graphic itself.

Other elements that will be evaluated are a website’s menu, clickable links, titles, tables, forms, and similar items, as they are found on your business’s website.

Examples of problems and corrections

Messy, disorganized structure will be flagged as non-compliant, but it’s also a poor practice for your SEO. Those with cognitive disabilities are better able to navigate when there is a consistent hierarchy of pages and an H1 (headline 1) tag on each page that clearly identifies the main topic.

Links to other pages, whether on your own site or to another site, should say that this leads to a new page and what the user can expect to find if they go there. This helps those with both visual and cognitive disabilities from getting lost when navigating your pages.

Large, well-spaced buttons that explain functionality help users with motor skill difficulties manage your website’s functions, as well as assisting those with visual and cognitive disabilities.

Corrections like these are best done by your web professional since most require getting into the code. Or you may choose to add a toolbar that is installed on your current website which provides the user options for modifying the pages as needed. Either way, you’ll want to start with an Accessibility Audit to see whether or not you are compliant. Sprocket Websites is happy to audit your site for free. Just give us a call and we will get started.

Photo by Markus Winkler

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Kate Gingold

Kate GingoldKate Gingold

I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.

Other posts by Kate Gingold
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I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.

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