Complete Guide to Website Accessibility Testing
Website accessibility testing for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With just a few steps, you can ensure that everyone has access to your content and maintain a professional image on behalf of your business. This blog post will provide some straightforward advice on how to test your site for ADA compliance and answer any questions that may come up along the way.
What is ADA Compliance?
The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance is a legal requirement that ensures public and private websites are accessible to people with disabilities. This act protects the rights of people with disabilities by ensuring they have the same access and opportunities to use digital products as those without disabilities. Although enacted in 1990, its implementation remains an ongoing process for many organizations.
Importance of Testing for ADA Compliance
Testing for ADA compliance is essential for any organization or business that wants to maintain a competitive edge. Ensuring your website complies with ADA regulations ensures that all customers, regardless of their ability or disability, can access your website and have an enjoyable experience. Additionally, ADA testing is also essential from a legal perspective – failing to comply with the law can result in costly penalties, so performing regular tests is necessary to avoid potential litigation.
Website Accessibility Testing in a Nutshell
Website accessibility testing certainly sounds like it should involve some rocket science or quantum mathematics. However, there’s no need to hire an entire squad of scientists to ensure your website is ADA-friendly: if you know what to look for, website accessibility testing can be done right at your fingertips! With the right resources and knowledge of best practices for accessibility, this guide, and a basic understanding of how to update your website (or access to a web developer to help!), you can update your site to be an inclusive experience for all your visitors.
Simply put, website accessibility testing has three main parts:
- Take inventory of your website’s content
- Track necessary changes and progress
- Test your website with assistive technology
Now, let’s dive into each part of website accessibility testing and discover what’s involved. Don’t worry—we’ll make it easy to follow along!
Create an Inventory of Website Content
Auditing website content for website accessibility testing can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The best way to embark on an effective website audit is by breaking down the components you need to evaluate. We like to divide content into two buckets: Assets and Structural.
Assets are parts of your website that add additional value to the site. They are often easy to update and need more simple changes. Some examples of website assets are:
Structural elements are a little more tricky and may need more advanced website development to ensure accessibility. Some examples of structured content are:
- Keyboard Accessibility
- Layout and Design
Prioritizing your website audit process through this list and thoroughly documenting your findings will help ensure accessibility requirements are met, and website usability is up to par. Ensure you review each page on your website, so you don’t miss anything.
Creating a website audit template with fields for each website component listed above is a great place to start to ensure organization in your website audit.
Compare With Accessibility Website Testing Guidelines
Once you have documented the data on your website according to the different components individually, you’ll gain valuable insights into how accessible and user-friendly your website is – helping guide necessary changes before launch or during maintenance.
These best practices aim to make your site easy to access for those with disabilities or different methods of use. Let’s review some key questions to make sure your site is as accessible as possible:
- Readability: Is the text easy to read and understand?
- Images: Are photos easy to view or have alternative text for adaptive technology?
- Videos: Are videos easy to access/hear/see with adaptive technology?
- Navigation: Is the site easy to navigate without a mouse?
Organizing your content with headings is one of the most critical best practices for accessibility. Headings provide structure and a way for readers to quickly navigate content. They also make it easier for people using screen readers to find what they need.
Images should have descriptive file names, alt text to describe the photo in the page’s context, and a high contrast ratio for visually impaired visitors.
Videos should include captions or transcripts for hearing-impaired visitors and audio descriptions for those with visual impairments.
Website text should be legible and have an appropriate font size. Additionally, the text should have a good contrast (i.e., dark text against a light background or vice versa).
Using plain language is important for making sure your content can be understood by everyone. Avoid jargon or technical vocabulary as much as possible, and be sure to use language that is easy to understand. You can also use simple examples and stories to make complex topics easier to understand.
Clear Link Descriptions
Links are an essential part of any website. But if your links aren’t clear and descriptive, clicking is like opening a door in a haunted house—you’ll never know what’s on the other side. Make sure the links are descriptive and make sense to everyone. Avoid using generic terms like “click here” or “learn more” and opt for descriptive link anchor texts like “find out more about accessibility best practices” or “learn how to make content more accessible.”
Fields should be labeled appropriately, and forms should be easy to navigate using the keyboard. Also, it’s helpful to include clear, descriptive error messages and guidance on how to fix them.
Use clear and descriptive link text, ensure keyboard-only users can navigate easily, and provide a way to bypass navigation elements.
After conducting a content audit, it is essential to track changes to ensure that the accessibility issues have been resolved. You can use tools such as Trello or Asana—both free project management tools— to manage your content, prioritize for quick wins, and monitor progress. Some people may also use a simple spreadsheet!
The benefit of formal tracking on your website accessibility testing is that you can prioritize easy changes. Remember, complete website accessibility can be a huge undertaking, but every piece of the accessibility pie matters when it comes to staying compliant and giving your website visitors a great experience.
Website Accessibility Testing with Assistive Technology
Now that you have an audit of the content, you must check your website with assistive technology that mimics how those with disabilities would use your site. Here are a few tips to get started on ADA compliance testing.
- Choose the right screen reader: Many different screen readers are available, each with its own features and capabilities. Choose a screen reader that is appropriate for your target audience and platform.
- Test with keyboard only: Disable your mouse and test your website using only the keyboard. This will help you identify any issues with keyboard accessibility.
- Use screen reader software: Use the screen reader software to navigate your website and ensure that it provides accurate and meaningful feedback. This will help you identify any issues with the website’s accessibility for users with visual impairments.
- Test for color contrast: Use tools like the Color Contrast Checker to ensure sufficient contrast between text and background.
- Test for font-size: Ensure that the font size can be easily increased or decreased using the browser’s zoom feature.
- Test with other assistive technologies: Test your website with other assistive technologies such as braille displays, voice recognition software, and switch controls to ensure that it is accessible to users with different needs.
By testing your website with screen readers and other adaptations, you can identify and address any accessibility issues and ensure your website is accessible to all users.
Web Design for a More Inclusive World
We hope this blog post gives you a better understanding of ADA compliance, why it is important to test for accessibility, and how to go about it. With our website accessibility cheat sheet, you can quickly access all the best practices for ADA compliance. Don’t forget to regularly check your website for accessibility, and ensure that all the changes you make are up to code.
Feeling overwhelmed? We’ve got you covered! With our expertise in ADA compliance best practices and website accessibility testing, we can help you find solutions to any accessibility issue.
We want to leave you with one last thought: website accessibility is a must-have, not a nice-to-have. We can all do our part to make the web more inclusive. So go ahead, do your part, and make sure your website is ADA-compliant.