WordPress Website Accessibility Audits

What is an accessibility audit?

A WordPress accessibility audit is an audit of the front end of your website. It is a combination of some automated tests (less than 25%) and actual human testing using a lengthy checklist on both desktop & mobile. At the end, you get a summary report detailing the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Most people start with a limited scope audit, which just includes 5 pages of their website.

  • Homepage
  • Service landing page
  • Contact page
  • Main blog page
  • Individual blog page

For many websites, this is a decent sampling of your website and covers most of your content types. Issues found here are typically recurring over other pages of the same type, and there isn’t a need to individually audit those other pages.

Why not just use an overlay widget?

In the digital world, people with disabilities navigate the Web in a variety of ways depending on their needs. Some people may use specialized software and hardware to interact with the Web, others may adjust platform and browser settings to accommodate their needs. No matter how people access the Web, everyone has their own strategies to do so.

edX Accessibility course module 2.2.1

I want to emphasize the point here, “Everyone has their own strategies”. Most people with a disability already have a system in place for using web pages. Adding an overlay widget is basically asking them to interact in a special and different way with your web page. You are asking them to learn a new tool and a new approach just to use your website. Does that sound friendly?

It would be similar to saying to a wheelchair user that they can’t bring their own wheelchair into your building. They have to use your specially designed power wheelchair with tons of fancy buttons in order to visit your building.

Think about it another way. Many of these overlay tools are currently under fire from many accessibility groups because the accessibility overlay widget has literally made websites less accessible. Yes, less. Do you really want to use a tool already facing numerous lawsuits?

Recently, we were working with a client who wanted the “quick fix” of an overlay widget. It turned their accessible menu into an inaccessible menu. The overlay widget literally made their menu unusable by keyboard!

How is your audit helpful to you?

Accessibility can be a big confusing mess for a lot of people. So we group the audit into categories, so you can decide what is most important to you.

Items commonly found in lawsuits

While we are not lawyers and can’t give you legal advice, there are some common trends among lawsuits for accessibility. We’ll compare your site against these common trends to see whether it has the same problems others were sued for. After all, it’s best to learn from the mistakes of others.

Items that impact your SEO

A lot of accessibility issues are also SEO issues. By making your website easy for a disabled person to read, you can actually improve how well a search engine reads it.

Items that impact how average, non-disabled people use your website

So there are a lot of accessibility issues that also impact regular people. For example, low contrast text just makes your website painful for regular people to try and read. Instructions that randomly disappear make it hard for people to understand what the heck they are doing on your site. Tiny tap buttons on your mobile site make it nearly impossible for someone riding the metro to click the button.

The ‘sobering up in a coffee shop’ test

In this section, we evaluate your website as if our eyes are tired, our brain is tired, and we are half distracted by everything going on around us. My dogs generally assist greatly with this test.

Items impacting assistive technologies

This section will go into which part of the guidelines affect primarily just those with impairment.

Items not found to be applicable

On many websites, some sections of the guidelines just aren’t relevant for the content you have. For example, the guidelines for video won’t be checked if you have no video. So that stuff will end up here.

What type of audit do you need?

Are you looking to comply with section 508 or in general with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Section 508 applies to certain government agencies as well as certain organizations that receive funding from the government. If you receive payments from the government or are otherwise closely tied to it, you should contact your government contact to find out if you need to comply with section 508.

At the current time, only WCAG 2.0 level AA or section 508 audits are available, and only for websites whose business is US based.