Web accessibility has assumed ever-greater importance as businesses generate more and more of their revenue online. Given that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are around 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide, making your site accessible to these individuals by performing ADA compliance testing is a must from a revenue optimization standpoint.
From a legal perspective, it also makes sense to make your website accessible to people with disabilities. Existing law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), requires that public accommodations be accessible to people with disabilities. In recent years, a legal ruling by the ninth circuit Federal Appeals Court and federal government policy have expanded the ADA’s scope to include public websites. Subsequently, numerous lawsuits, including a famous case against the Winn-Dixie supermarket chain, have been launched against sites that allegedly haven’t taken the steps necessary to make themselves accessible to people with disabilities.
Another benefit of website accessibility is improved site design – the principles underlying WCAG 2.1 (the most commonly used guidelines for making sure a website is accessible) promote site design that boosts the aesthetic appeal and navigability of your site for all users, not just those with disabilities.
Given all the advantages associated with website accessibility, many sites will utilize website accessibility checkers to gauge whether their site is in compliance with the WCAG 2.1 guidelines.
In addition to using a checker, there are also a number of website accessibility checks you can perform yourself. This article will discuss just what it meant by accessibility and detail 6 website tests you can run yourself for the purposes of ADA compliance testing.
What is Accessibility?
To make your website accessible to people with disabilities refers to designing it in such a way that these individuals can navigate the site easily, without encountering serious impediments.
In practice this usually means using ADA compliance testing to make sure that your site meets the main criteria of accessibility as specified in the WCAG 2.1 guidelines. These guidelines have been cited by the U.S. Department of Justice as acceptable criteria for determining whether a site is accessible to people with disabilities.
The guidelines incorporate the following principles of website design:
- Operable: Able to be navigated using a keyboard alone as well as by using a mouse.
- Perceivable: All users of your site should be able to easily find and process information on the site.
- Dynamic: Able to work with software such as screen readers that enables people with disabilities to use your site.
- Understandable: All visitors to your site should be able to understand the information presented there.
Following the WCAG 2.1 guidelines enables the design of websites that avoid issues that can make it difficult for individuals with disabilities to use them. These include:
- Colors, fonts and monitor contrast levels people with vision disabilities find hard to see.
- File types that can’t be read out loud.
- Audio files without transcriptions for those who have a hearing impairment.
- No text descriptions that can be read by screen readers for the images on a page.
6 Website Accessibility Checks
You can perform the following six accessibility checks yourself to help make your site accessible to people with disabilities:
- Contrast: To test the contrast on your page, open the Control panel and navigate to “Ease of Access Center.” Once there, click on the “Make the computer easier to see” button, then under the “High Contrast” section choose a High Contrast color scheme. You can also turn High Contrast on or off via keyboard shortcut keys. To do so, press left ALT + left Shift + Print Screen. Once you do so, a pop-up window enabling you to turn High Contrast on or off appears. To enable High Contrast, click on the Yes button. Once you have changed the color scheme so that it indicates High Contrast, check to make sure that the contents on the page are displayed to reflect the color changes and that no vital information has disappeared from the page.
- Alt Text: To be accessible to visitors with visual disabilities, alternate text is used to describe the pictures that appear on a page. All images should feature Alt Text that enables screen readers such as JAWS or NVDA to read the text. To test this function on your site, hover the mouse over an image and the Alt Text should display as a tool tip. If you find performing this test manually is taking too much time, there are automated solutions you can employ to speed up the process.
- Check captions and transcripts: For people with hearing disabilities, captions and transcripts are used to make audio and video content accessible. Verify that captions are connected to your video recordings and that audio recordings offer transcriptions.
- Verify that Skip Navigation is active and Keyboard functions work: The skip navigation function makes it easy for people with mobility impairments to use your site. You can verify that it is enabled by pressing Ctrl+Home to switch the focus to the top of the page. Then, use the Tab key to move through the links to ensure that the “Skip to Content” link can be found near the top. To ensure keyboard navigation is functioning properly, make sure that all of the dynamic elements such as drop-down menus, tab pages, Flash interfaces, etc. can be accessed via the keyboard. Check the Tab key, space bar, and up/down arrows, etc. to verify that all dynamic elements are accessible.
- Form Labels: All of the forms on your site should be accessible. To ensure that this is the case, place the mouse on the label of each of the form’s fields; a flashing cursor should appear next to the associated field when you do so. For fields that don’t have a label, hover the mouse over the field and verify that it has a matching title attribute which appears as a tool tip.
- JAWS screen reader testing: The JAWS screen reader enables individuals who are partially or completely blind to read a website page. To test whether the software works on your site, you can download the app at this site. The download will allow you to run the software for 40 minutes with no restrictions. Once 40 minutes have passed, you will need to reboot the computer to continue testing. Additionally, your system must be rebooted to use JAWS initially as well.
Start Your Website Compliance Check
Not sure how to make your website ADA compliant? Our free uTester ADA Website Compliance Checker helps you take the critical steps needed to diagnose, prioritize and repair web accessibility and compliance issues so that all users can navigate your pages and web applications with ease.