There are various approaches and methods to achieving optimal web accessibility and user experience. Often, user testing focuses on website functionality to meet the needs of the largest market, so developers can frequently overlook accessibility testing for websites in the initial construction phases. When initiating web accessibility testing, organizations may identify extensive violations that require fixes retroactively. Proactive web accessibility testing in the initial design stages can help ensure inclusion and engaging user experience for anyone before a website goes live. 

Accessibility is also the law. Section 508 compliance testing of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires all federal agencies and departments to ensure all communications and technology are accessible to everyone, regardless of ability. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also requires “places of public accommodation,” such as public-facing businesses, to have accessible websites, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Fortunately, web accessibility testing for ADA compliance helps determine which aspects of your website require attention and changes, evaluating, documenting, and verifying the levels of inclusion for your website and/or application. 

With three different methods of website accessibility testing, organizations can help ensure a website offers 360-degree accessibility to anyone based on the ADA and Section 508.

  • Manual testing – repeated, closely documented, hands-on group testing with people.
  • Automated testing – AI-powered solutions scan and test a website for accessibility nonconformance.
  • Hybrid testing – Blends manual and automated testing for a comprehensive approach.  

Manual Web Accessibility Testing

Manual website testing is a multifaceted process with various stakeholders involved, as it is more complex than automated testing. Planning and executing manual web accessibility testing is done in a controlled, repeatable manner to ensure feedback can translate into actionable items. Manual web accessibility testing requires ongoing repetition, as new issues could arise with website updates. 

Tips For Planning Manual Accessibility Testing for Websites

Research everything that’s required before starting with web accessibility testing. 

According to the UX Mastery Website’s usability testing guide, the five phases of manual website testing are:  

  1. Preparing your web design for testing
  2. Finding participants
  3. Outlining a test plan
  4. Becoming a moderator in the usability testing
  5. Presenting your findings

Prepare for each phase in advance to ensure the processes run smoothly and produce the most comprehensive results to take action. 

1. Plan Well

Make sure a dedicated web designer is on board for this project. They can help select relevant and critical features for your website, and their involvement in ADA compliance-testing will simplify the process of changes and updates required in later stages.

Web design accessibility guidelines are implemented to ensure full access and inclusion of any online user. Elements like color contrast of the text versus the website background, text size, and keyboard navigation abilities can help meet the needs of diverse users with disabilities. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) help you identify these key features, which can be included in your website’s manual accessibility test. We will break down more key features and elements of the website to test later in this blog post.

2. Honesty is Key

If you are looking for genuine, quality feedback to optimize website accessibility, staying open to positive and negative user experiences is critical. While there may be a range of website elements that some online visitors dislike or don’t understand, these insights could be paramount in optimizing a website to meet ADA compliance. If an individual with an impairment or condition has an accessibility concern, it’s likely that others in the same position may experience the same challenges. Listen to users testing accessibility for websites, as they may become an integral to acquiring insight and solutions for an inclusive user experience.

3. Take Accurate Notes

Making general notes or creating vague insights for website improvements are counter productive when coming back to your web designer following a manual audit and test. Make precise notes about accessibility issues and where in the website they require fixing when, and what’s required to fix the concern.

To ensure you capture every detail of the manual testing process, recording sessions is best practice but requires a tester’s consent in advance.

4. Conduct the Testing Somewhere Accessible

You wouldn’t want to hold a presentation on wheelchair accessibility in a venue that is completely inaccessible to wheelchairs, so why should accessibility testing for websites differ? Ensure that accessibility testing for websites is conducted within an inclusive environment that considers the tester’s needs. Check with testers in advance of their arrival to make sure you can accommodate each of them.

Some users will need to know your system’s keyboard navigation commands, as they might use keyboard navigation on another operating system. Others will need text-to-speech enabled. It’s best to try these features out on the computer they will be using to make sure they are ready to test the website. This also optimizes use of time and productivity to ensure the ideal set-up is readily available to testers, rather than having to implement tools and options on the fly.

While manual testing provides a solid sense of user experience and accessibility, it can incur repeated expenses, as it needs to be repeated periodically with updates to your website to maintain long-term goals. This is why many organizations adopt solutions for automated testing.

Automated Accessibility Testing for Websites

Accessibility testing tools are frequently used to predict and evaluate the levels of inclusion and performance of a website. Automated accessibility testing can highlight any issues that may arise with the website, suggesting modifications quickly or instantly, delivering consistent, real-time results to site owners. 

Web accessibility testing tools are often preferred for accuracy over manual testing, as testing is not limited to a small sample of testers, instead testing for overall accessibility needs.

Web Accessibility Testing: A Breakdown of What to Evaluate

Most websites require testing of standard sections and functionality, from titles and headers, to assistive technology capabilities like screen readers and keyboard navigation, to text accessibility, image alt text and more. We’ve created a breakdown of the basic sections to test and what to look for when evaluating them.

  • Page Titles

Page titles for your entire website are important, as they indicate the starting point for all end users and provide a sense of navigation, particularly those relying on assistive technologies. Page titles should accurately describe the page and ensure pages can be distinguished. Page Titles can appear in the tab of the given browser used, and they can also show up on Google and other search engines to help users reach a specific page of your website with greater ease, and for future reference when bookmarked.

  • Header Formats & Clarity

When screen readers and various assistive technologies scan content of websites, header tags and formatting are key in identifying sections and headings that provide context for online users. Content headers can and should be formatted based on H1, H2, and H3 hierarchies to help visually differentiate sections of your content, and in guiding screen readers and braille displays to identify headers for contextual relevance.

The heading codes in html are marked <h1>, <h2>, etc., and it’s important to ensure tags are in place for assistive technologies to to identify them.

  • Image Alternative Text or Alt Text

Every image included on your website that provides functional or informational context for users should include image alternative text. Ensuring alt text is clear, concise, and provides an accurate description of what the image conveys is especially important for anyone using screen readers, braille displays, or other assistive technologies. For an in-depth look at image alt text and its importance for digital accessibility, read our full blog post. 

  • Color Contrast & Resizing Text

Online users with visual impairments often require contrasting colors of background and text to engage with content. What’s most critical is that websites allow users to adapt the contrast between background and text based on their unique needs. People with dyslexia, for example, may find it difficult to engage with content that is bright colors. Ensuring your website can adjust is key for an inclusive online experience. The same principle applies to text sizes and fonts – they should always be adaptable based on the online users’ needs.

  • Keyboard Navigation & Screen Reader Accessibility

Some online users browse and engage with websites with the aid of keyboard navigation, screen users, or braille displays. To ensure this is possible, content that is functional and allows a usual click-through function should be accessible to these assistive technologies with either borders around links or highlights in fields of forms that can be completed or filled. Testing this area means going through the process of shortcuts and commands, tabbing through and away pages and functions, from links, to site navigation via menu links, dropdown options, and images. 

  • Interactive & Dynamic Multimedia

While user engagement is often elevated and enhanced with videos, carousels, pop-ups, and flashing media, to some these options both disrupt the seamless user experience with assistive technologies, and can incur actual symptomatic responses. The key is to ensure that any automated function of videos, media, audio, or flashing animation can be disabled. Individuals with epilepsy could experience seizures from flashing animation or certain types of videos, so this is an important measure to implement with web accessibility testing.

Userway’s Accessibility Testing Tools & Widget 

While using automated accessing testing tools could sound like a technical and complex process, web accessibility testing tools are designed to simplify processes. 

UserWay’s Accessibility Scanner maps your website, scanning, monitoring, and identifying violations, guiding you with remediations required according to priority to help ensure WCAG and ADA compliance. We also offer website audits that summarize any accessibility violations, both automated and manual.

Our Widget 4.0 also enhances accessibility with the ability for users to adjust text size, font, color contrast, and use screen readers, or adapt the UI for users with various disabilities or impairments.

Get started with the UserWay Widget 4.0 or our scanner, and join over 1 million websites globally using our accessibility solutions.


How will I know which changes to make to my website after using UserWay’s accessibility testing tools?

UserWay’s scanner scans and monitors your website for WCAG conformance, and provides you with a report of all the issues found on your site. 

Our website audit will provide you with clear, actionable checklists of every accessibility violation on your website and provide you with direct remediation instructions for you to follow. If you have difficulty implementing these changes, you can get 1-1 expert advice. 

Can UserWay help my website become WCAG compliant?

Yes. UserWay’s accessibility solutions can help you become WCAG 2.0 compliant and stay that way with our various solutions like the Accessibility Widget, Scanner, Audit, and MS Office add-on.

What happens if I don’t comply with accessibility guidelines like WCAG and the ADA?

If your website doesn’t comply with accessibility guidelines, your site is open to receiving litigation and potential legal repercussions. In 2022 there were 2387 web accessibility lawsuits filed with a 1.5% increase since 2021. UserWay can help keep your website compliant and safe from accessibility-related litigation.