Picking the Right Accessible Website Certification
An accessible website certification from a reputable authority can help you showcase your efforts to create inclusive content.
If your website complies with the Section 508 standards or the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), you can get a certificate that validates your level of conformance on a specific date.
An accessible website certification shows website visitors that you’re committed to providing equal access for all users. Just as important, it gives you a place to share your accomplishments to date — and your long-term goals for accessibility.
Although certifications play an important role in promoting digital accessibility, not all credentials carry the same weight. Ideally, your certificate should be provided by a trusted third party and reference commonly used accessibility standards.
Below, we discuss how to evaluate certifications to find the one that best aligns with your business.
Key Features of an Accessible Website Certification
When you build for accessibility, you’re trying to deliver the best user experience to all users. A certification can show that you’ve included qualified third-party experts in this process.
To that end, your certification should present objective, accurate information about your current level of accessibility. It should appear alongside a detailed Accessibility Statement (and yes, every website needs an Accessibility Statement).
Some important factors to consider when deciding whether to pursue a web accessibility certification:
A reputable accessibility certification will measure your digital content against common standards such as WCAG, which is published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
WCAG contains success criteria that are written as testable pass-or-fail statements. These criteria are organized into three levels of conformance:
- Level A: The minimum level of conformance, Level A contains basic success criteria for removing serious accessibility barriers that affect a wide range of users.
Level AA: Level AA removes additional barriers and establishes a level of accessibility that works for most devices and assistive technologies, such as screen readers.
- Level AAA: The most strict level of conformance, Level AAA contains additional success criteria to establish the highest possible level of accessibility.
Most websites should aim for Level AA conformance, which the Department of Justice (DOJ) has identified as a reasonable standard for following the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Your web accessibility certificate should declare your WCAG conformance goal and the extent to which you’ve met that goal. It may also list applicable laws (such as the ADA) or industry-specific regulations that require web accessibility.
You’ll need to undergo an accessibility audit to earn an accessible website certification. An accessibility audit is a series of tests that evaluate your digital content against WCAG standards — ideally using both manual and automated tests.
Automated tests can identify many WCAG failures, but some types of barriers can only be identified (and resolved) by experienced human testers. Your accessibility partner should provide details about their manual testing and remediation process.
Manual testers should hold relevant credentials, which may include accreditations from the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP).
Resources for Long-Term Accessibility Compliance
Accessibility is an ongoing process, not a one-time project. Even if your site passes every WCAG success criteria during an audit, you should perform additional tests when your content changes.
Before pursuing a web accessibility certificate, make sure you have a strategy in place for maintaining your status as an accessible site. Your accessibility partner may offer resources to ensure future conformance and to address the ongoing needs of people with disabilities.
Is an Accessibility Certificate Required for ADA Compliance?
No. Because the ADA does not require websites to follow any specific technical standards, no third-party organization can provide a certification that proves ADA compliance.
However, the DOJ has indicated that businesses should refer to existing technical standards (specifically, WCAG) to fulfill their obligations under the ADA. The U.S. government uses WCAG standards when evaluating its own websites, and many international accessibility laws cite WCAG as a reasonable standard of accessibility.
In short: accessibility certificates aren’t required for compliance, but they can help show your efforts to follow applicable laws, mandates, and industry standards.
Building a More Accessible Website With AudioEye
At AudioEye, we believe that everyone should have equal access to the internet. We also believe that the best path to digital accessibility is one that combines the power of automation with the expertise of manual audits.
Through our continuous investment in research and development, we have created an automated test suite with 400+ test outcomes and 70+ automated fixes that allow us to solve the majority of common accessibility issues in real time.
However, some accessibility issues require the skill, experience, and judgment of human testers conducting manual reviews. For that reason, we also offer manual testing and remediation services through our custom plans.
The AudioEye Trusted Certification
The AudioEye Trusted Certification badge is provided to AudioEye Managed and Enterprise customers. It signifies that the organization holding the badge has:
- Made a sincere commitment to ensure the highest level of access for all users, regardless of ability;
Took steps to adhere to inclusive design principles and achieve — and maintain — substantial conformance with AudioEye’s interpretation of the WCAG;
Supplied users with access to a 24/7 Help Desk that allows them to report issues to, and receive feedback from, accessibility professionals;
Provided free cloud-based web personalization and enhancement tools that allow people to customize the user experience to meet their individual preferences.
No matter how large or complex your website, we’re ready to help you establish — and reach — your accessibility goals. Get started for free by using our Website Accessibility Checker to uncover the accessibility issues on your website:
Ready to test your website for accessibility?