Ensure Digital Inclusivity with a Website Accessibility Checklist

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Ensure Digital Inclusivity with a Website Accessibility Checklist

Posted February 27, 2024


Posted February 27, 2024

Checklist next to accessibility symbol.
Checklist next to accessibility symbol.

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AudioEye’s accessibility checklist can help you create a more accessible, inclusive website. Learn which accessibility features you need to have to meet accessibility standards and how AudioEye can help enhance accessibility and usability.

The focus on accessibility has risen steadily over the last few decades. Governments worldwide have passed legislation to ensure people with disabilities are not discriminated against and have equal access to public places, housing, transportation, and, more recently, the internet. Just as a physical storefront must have a ramp for wheelchair access, websites must be accessible to all individuals — regardless of their abilities. 

In addition to being a legal requirement, website accessibility is a fundamental aspect of inclusivity. It ensures that everyone — including those with physical or cognitive disabilities — can navigate and interact with digital content. 

So how do you create an accessible website? 

The first step: understanding why accessibility is important and which legal requirements apply to your website.

The Importance of Website Accessibility

With accessibility issues prevalent on most websites, people with disabilities are three times as likely to say they never go online and are less likely to report using the internet on a daily basis. This is largely due to the majority of the web being inaccessible to people with disabilities. From broken links and missing alternative text to inaccessible images and audio content, the prevalence of accessibility errors has made it difficult, if not impossible for the disabled community to use the internet. Because of this, many choose to stay off the web. 

For example, AudioEye research of more than two million homepages found an average of 37 accessibility errors per page — many of which prevent users from accomplishing key tasks online. Some of the most noteworthy findings include:

  • 56% of images are not accessible to people with visual impairments such as blindness, color blindness, low vision, or cataracts
  • 64% of pages contain links that are not clear or understandable to people with disabilities
  • 1 in 4 forms are missing descriptive labels for people with disabilities

These are just the issues that AudioEye discovered — an abundance of other issues exist on web pages that create a difficult, confusing, and frustrating experience for users.

Organizations have a responsibility — both legally and ethically — to resolve these issues and enhance accessibility across their site.

To help businesses enhance accessibility, we’ve put together an accessibility checklist. The list contains success criteria that ensure digital content is accessible to all users, fulfills accessibility legal requirements, and conforms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

The AudioEye Accessibility Checklist

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) states that content must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust to be accessible. More commonly known as POUR, the principles categorize web accessibility into four aspects. We’ve broken our accessibility checklist into these same categories to help you get started.

Perceivable Content

Information and user interface components must be perceivable to users, including those with visual impairments. This means that content cannot be invisible to any of a user’s senses. Users should also be able to understand the information being presented.

To ensure content is perceivable, your website should:

  • Avoid using color alone to convey information. This may hinder users who are blind or colorblind from distinguishing between web elements. Additionally, users who rely on assistive technologies such as screen readers may not be able to clearly see information while outside or in a brightly lit environment.
  • Have an appropriate color contrast ratio. For users with visual impairments, it's critical they be able to distinguish between the foreground and background color. According to WCAG, websites should have a color contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for larger text. This ensures users with visual impairments can distinguish between web elements.
  • Avoid using excessively large pages, images, or fonts. Extra large images are hard for screen readers or screen magnifiers to understand. They can also cause excessive scrolling or disorientation. Ensure users have the ability to resize text or images as needed as well.
  • Include captions for multimedia content: Users who are deaf or hard of hearing rely on captions to consume multimedia content such as videos or audio descriptions. Captions are also necessary when users are in a loud environment.
  • Have appropriate warning and error messages. Don’t limit error messages to audio-only as users who are deaf or hard of hearing may not be able to hear them. Consider conveying error messages through pop-ups or text highlights.
  • Include alternative text. Alternative text (or alt text) provides a written description of images, sounds, videos, graphs, and other non-text content. This ensures screen readers can identify these components and accurately describe them to disabled users.
  • Avoid text entry where possible. Users with motor disabilities may struggle to enter their information in form fields. To make forms more accessible, consider providing alternative input forms such as voice-to-text or autofill.

Operable User Interface

All users should be able to use an online interface. WCAG specifies that online platforms — including mobile devices — cannot have interactions that a user cannot perform. 

For your website to be operable, it must have:

  • Alternative navigation methods. Not all users rely on a mouse to navigate digital content. Your website should be keyboard accessible and be optimized for screen readers. Additionally, you’ll need to ensure the tab order on your site is logical and follows the page’s flow of information.
  • Appropriate header structure. Keyboard and screen reader users rely on headings to understand the importance of content on a page. Your web pages should follow the page title, H1, H2, and H3 order as this helps users navigate an online page. 
  • Strong focus order. To ensure content is accessible to keyboard users, it’s important to include keyboard focus on a page. Keyboard focus refers to providing a visual indication of where a user is at one page. This prevents users from getting lost in page content and ensures they can easily navigate through your website.
  • No keyboard traps: Keyboard traps happen when a user cannot move away from an interactive element. These can occur in drop-down menus, hyperlinks, or input boxes (such as dialog boxes). Your site should be free of traps so users can easily navigate around.
  • Appropriate screen time. Users should be able to read and interact with content at their own pace. This means users should be able to customize page scrolling, video playback speed, and interactive elements (i.e. carousels, marquees, animations, slider menus, etc.) Any time limits on your web pages should be used sparingly.

Understandable Information and User Interface

The information and operation of your user interface must be understandable by all users. More simply, users should be able to clearly understand the information being presented to them and how to use your website. 

To achieve this, your site should have:

  • The right hierarchical structure. Your content should be organized in a logical, hierarchical manner, meaning the most important information is presented first followed by subsequent content. The correct use of headings is critical in ensuring seamless navigation.
  • Accessible forms. Ensure your forms can be filled out by keyboard-only users and provide more than one form input method. Any errors should be easily identified either through auditory or visual means and provide clear directions on how to correct them. Additionally, make it easy for users to submit a completed form with easy-to-identify buttons.
  • Clear, engaging content. Keep the use of language concise and easily comprehensible. In addition to being grammatically correct, content should also avoid fluff and the use of jargon. Not only is this a business best practice, but it also ensures users who are not native English speakers or those with cognitive disabilities can comprehend your content.
  • The ability to stop, hide, or pause content. Users should be able to stop, hide, or pause animations, moving content, or flashes as necessary. Not only is this a conformance standard in WCAG, but it also ensures users with epilepsy, motion sensitivity conditions, or cognitive or learning disabilities can focus on and understand content.
  • Accessible links. When including external or internal links, be sure to include link descriptions and the appropriate link text. For users using screen readers, these elements describe what will happen when clicking on a link, such as where the link will take them and if the link opens in a new window.

Robust Content and Reliable Interpretation

Your website should have content robust enough to be understood reliably by various users, including people who rely on assistive technology. As technology advances and user needs change, your content needs to remain accessible. 

A few of the guidelines around robust content include:

  • Parsing. Parsing refers to how screen readers or web browsers read and understand your website. Your site should be optimized for these different technologies to ensure they don’t have difficulty parsing your code. 
  • Up-to-date technology. WCAG recommends ensuring your site supports the latest web browsers and assistive technologies. This ensures users have an innovative, modern experience. 
  • Secure programming and code. Bugs, security breaches, and other security vulnerabilities can put your site at risk as well as hinder accessibility. You’ll want to regularly test your code to eliminate these vulnerabilities and maintain accessibility.
  • Responsive design. Accessibility starts with a responsive design. Your site should be able to seamlessly adapt to different devices, screen sizes, and user preferences. To build a responsive design, you’ll need to ensure you’re using the right semantic HTML and ARIA roles. You can read more about that here.

Following the checklist above enables you to conform with the last WCAG 2.2 standards and meet minimum accessibility legal requirements. However, it’s important to remember the checklist above serves as a starting point. You’ll need to continuously find and fix accessibility issues as well as monitor ongoing accessibility to ensure continued compliance and inclusivity.

How to Conduct an Accessibility Check

As we mentioned, the checklist above serves as a great starting point for increasing accessibility. To maximize website accessibility, you need to find and fix the existing accessibility issues on your site. This starts with an accessibility check.

While you can follow the seven-step process for checking accessibility as outlined by Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM), the process can be time consuming and complex. To streamline the process, we recommend using a website accessibility checker. These solutions conduct a careful audit of your site to find where existing accessibility issues are and provide guidance for remediation. 

For example, AudioEye’s Website Accessibility Checker performs an in-depth, point-in-time scan of your most used pages to uncover accessibility issues and lists them in a detailed report. Our software automatically fixes common accessibility issues while our team of human testers goes to work finding and fixing more complex issues. 

By identifying and understanding accessibility issues first, you can create a more strategic approach to resolving issues. This helps to save time, maximize resources, and optimize accessibility across your digital content.

Committing to Digital Accessibility

As the focus on accessibility continues, it’s important to adopt the mindset of continuous accessibility. The checklist above serves as a great starting point for finding and fixing existing accessibility issues, but accessibility requires regular monitoring and improvement to ensure continuous compliance.

For most organizations, this requires a mindset shift. Rather than viewing accessibility as an obligation or checkbox, it should be treated like a fundamental aspect of your overall user experience. Applying the accessibility principles discussed above to your design and development processes not only showcases your commitment to diversity and equity, but also expands your reach into a wider audience. Additionally, you create a more inclusive and impactful online presence.

With AudioEye, your path to accessibility is easy. We provide a suite of tools designed to help you find and fix existing accessibility issues as well as maintain accessibility moving forward. From our Website Accessibility Checker and Color Contrast Checker to our Expert Audits and Developer Tools, AudioEye has everything you need to create an accessible, inclusive website.

Want to see AudioEye in action? Book a free demo today.

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