Why Experts + Automation Is a Winning Formula for Accessibility

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Why Experts + Automation Is a Winning Formula for Accessibility

Posted October 25, 2023

AudioEye

Posted October 25, 2023

A purple accessibility symbol, with an icon of a person on the left and a gear on the right.
A purple accessibility symbol, with an icon of a person on the left and a gear on the right.

Learn about the pros and cons of different approaches to digital accessibility — and why AudioEye's combination of Expert Audits and powerful automation has resulted in the accessibility industry's lowest rate of valid legal claims.

When it comes to digital accessibility, there are a few different approaches.

On one side, you have automated accessibility solutions that promise to make digital accessibility simple, streamlined, and easy.

On the other side, you have digital accessibility consultants who claim automated solutions make things worse — and that manual audits are the only way to make websites accessible and compliant.

Like most things in life, we think the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

There are clear benefits to each approach. But they also have limitations that make them an incomplete solution — and can lead to customer websites that aren’t truly accessible or compliant.

In this post, we’ll examine the pros and cons of each approach — and explain how blending the two can help you deliver an accessible browsing experience to every website visitor.

A stylized web page, with an icon of a human on the left side and a magnifying glass with an accessibility symbol on the right side.

The pros and cons of automated solutions and manual audits

If you talk to any digital accessibility vendor, it’s no surprise that they’re going to highlight the strongest areas of their product or service:

  • Automation-only solutions will tout their ability to quickly and efficiently improve your site’s accessibility, without burdening your internal teams or resources.
  • Accessibility consultants will highlight the precision of their manual audits — and how human experts are the only way to uncover many of the WCAG violations that lead to legal claims.

With so much focus on what each approach does differently and better, it begs the question: Why not take the best of each to deliver a more comprehensive approach to accessibility?

There’s clear value in the speed, convenience, and scalability of automation. However, automation alone cannot identify or remediate every accessibility issue — which can leave websites non-conformant with accessibility standards like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

The ability to uncover additional accessibility issues — especially those related to usability (i.e., using assistive technology to browse websites) and subjective content (i.e., the accuracy of image alt text descriptions) — is a key differentiator for manual audits compared to simple, rules-based automation.

Unfortunately, manual audits are ill-equipped to keep pace with the sheer size and changing nature of most websites. Each website update is a chance to accidentally introduce new accessibility issues. If you’re only auditing your website 1-2 times per year, it’s easy for accessibility issues to slip through the cracks.

Worse, many of these consultancies simply leave customers with a long list of issues to fix themselves — which can put tremendous strain on internal teams that might not be trained in the best practices of digital accessibility.

What are the other benefits of a combined approach to digital accessibility?

Combining expert audits with powerful automation doesn’t just help you test for more WCAG criteria; it also creates a symbiotic environment where human experts drive smarter automation.

At AudioEye, our certified accessibility experts write custom-coded JavaScript fixes for issues identified in the Expert Audit and deliver them automatically to your website.

And because we have our human experts focus on your highest-trafficked pages and page templates, these custom remediations are able to resolve more of the accessibility issues that would otherwise impact your website visitors — without having to rebuild large sections of your site.

A stylized webpage that shows a number of accessibility issues, next to an icon of gears.

Want to be truly accessible and compliant? It takes experts plus automation.

We’re excited that more organizations are looking into the accessibility of their digital experiences. But there’s still work to be done. And it starts with transparency.

Accessibility vendors need to be honest about the limitations of their solutions — and avoid falling into the trap of promising a silver bullet.

Automation alone cannot deliver fully accessible digital experiences, just like a manual audit every few months cannot hope to stay ahead of every accessibility issue. It takes a combination of the two — and steady input from members of the disability community — to build a more accessible digital future.

Want to see how your website stacks up today? Start with an automated scan of your site, then request an Expert Audit to uncover additional accessibility issues getting between you and your customers.

Ready to test your website for accessibility?

Scan your website now.

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