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Digital accessibility refers to whether a website or app functions for users with disabilities of various kinds, and how well it does so. Digital accessibility testing builds on the principles of usability testing, aiming specifically at potential site users with disabilities.
Auditing or testing a website for its level of functionality with screen readers, dynamic font adaptability, color contrast, and keyboard navigation ability (among other items) empowers development teams with key insights to assure people with disabilities don’t encounter barriers when attempting to access their digital platforms and services. Automated digital accessibility testing can build real-time accountability into new content as it is created and posted.
The Sooner, The Better
For many reasons, the sooner a website team discusses digital accessibility and testing, the better.
Not only will scaling websites begin to encounter a larger number of users with disabilities and need to accommodate them, but the larger the website the more severe and costly are the potential liabilities for violations. Site development is another issue. The nature of digital accessibility features requires specific back-end development measures in a site’s code and fundamental design features, meaning retrofitting a website to be compliant with digital accessibility standards can be costly and time-consuming.
There are several various approaches to implementing digital accessibility testing for the disabled community. These range from taking on the development process yourself to using artificial intelligence.
Do-It-Yourself Audit Testing
Using an audit tool, such as UserWay’s Web Accessibility Scanning & Monitoring tool, site hosts easily run scans of their webpages to identify non-compliant areas and features. Depending on the tool, these will give you the violation associated with the error and a recommended remedial action. In-house user experience research teams can also host testing sessions and provide developers with key insights to identify where solutions should be made.
This option is attractive for someone with a low budget, enough time bandwidth, comfortable with full-stack website development and for those who want more control over their platform. One major drawback to this approach is that a do-it-yourself approach doesn’t provide an expert’s knowledge of accessibility compliance.
Digital Accessibility Audit
Commissioning a digital accessibility audit or conducting user research testing with members of the disabled community is another possible option. For example, UserWay’s Accessibility Audit Report will rigorously analyze a website or app and provide clear, actionable checklists to improve the accessibility compliance of your website.
Unlike other audit providers, UserWay’s audit team provides both automated and manual reviews for more comprehensive and thorough accessibility research.
UserWay’s audit report provides critical insights on potential liabilities before they are encountered by customers. This report includes detailed references, as well as recommended content, structural and code changes that help guide teams through leveling their site accessibility up to compliance with the latest WCAG requirements.
The First Step Is Acknowledgement
As a wiser person once said: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” And that rings true for the reasons a web accessibility audit and testing process is vital. There could be hundreds of ADA and WCAG violations riddled throughout a website that a development team does not know about.
Many developers do not have the specific knowledge or experience to create an excellent user-friendly experience for those with disabilities, even if they have been studying development for years. And if they are familiar, mistakes are made that need to be identified to hedge against potential litigation.
The last place a business or website owner wants to find out about violations is from a process server handing over civil suit documents. Compared to brand damage and serious financial loss, the smart money is on setting your site or app up to undergo rigorous and comprehensive audits. And, ultimately, audits and testing are about keeping your organization accountable to its inclusive and non-discrimination principles.