Automated Website Accessibility Testing
There are 7 main areas that a website can be automatically tested for. They are extremely useful because they can give an indication of the build quality of a website and set the expectations of both Google and an individual who may be undertaking a website accessibility audit.
There are at least 7 different metrics available
The metrics that can be tested automatically are:
Website Accessibility Errors Priority A (known as WCAG A)
Website Accessibility Errors Priority AA (known as WCAG AA)
Website Accessibility Errors Priority AAA (known as WCAG AAA)
Website Accessibility Errors for Screen Readers (known as Section 4)
Website Coding Errors that affect Search Engines
Website Coding Errors (known W3C Standards)
Usability and Navigation Issues (that can be picked up automatically)
There are further pages on this website that go into more detail with each of these metrics.
This is only the starting point
They can be seen as an extremely useful starting point but account for only around 20% of what can be checked. This is where manual checking is necessary and this requires a high level of knowledge of both web design and website accessibility.
At the time of writing, UK Government legislation requires that all websites belonging to publicly-funded bodies achieve the AA standard. That is only one of these 7 automated checks. If we were to give each metric an equal value, this single metric only accounts for around 3% of the range of possible accessibility issues. You should not, therefore, consider that all your website is required to do is meet that 3% target. Can you imagine how ludicrous it would be in any other area to be satisfied with not covering any of the 97% of issues that could be wrong with your business?
If you are concerned that your current website Accessibility Statement may be inadequate or you do not currently have one for your website, please get in touch with us for a free 15-minute consultation by following this link.
This set of building regs for websites, according to the WCAG, are the absolute minimum a website must achieve
Priority A covers the basic stuff, putting Alt Text with images, allowing websites to still load and function even with external scripts (such as animations) blocked, captions with videos and so on
This set of building regs for websites, according to the WCAG, are what a website should achieve
Priority AA Standards include audio descriptions for video content, captions for live audio content, sign language for all pre-recorded media, orientation not being restricted to a single display, contrast of text and images, ability to resize text, text flowing freely without required scrollbars in both directions, multiple ways of locating a particular webpage and so on
This set of building regs for websites, according to the WCAG, are the standards a website could achieve
Priority AAA standards can, for the main, be seen as demonstrating a true willingness to provide alternatives, particularly with media content such as video. Text itself should be formatted in a certain way to ensure clear readability. Justified text, for example, is more difficult to read than standard, left-justified text
If you a sighted visitor to this website, I would ask you to closer your eyes for a minute. How are you going to navigate through this website? A mouse is of no use because you cannot see what to select. What are you going to do?
This is the problem that many people have to face every day. They have to rely on assistive technologies such as screen readers. A screen reader is software that attempts to "read" the contents of a website through the audio output of your computer, using a computer-generated voice.
If a website is not friendly to search engines, it will have poorer rankings and less people will be able to find it, including those with accessibility needs, so it is therefore very much an accessibility issue!
Search engines are, in effect, blind and they have to rely on the automated processes to assess the build quality (or otherwise) of a website. If their criteria are not met, it is to everyone's disadvantage
Coding Standards are, in effect, Building Regs for website. These lay out the coding standards that, if adhered to, would lead to websites displaying correctly on more devices, screen sizes and browsers and with fewer errors
This metric is one of many used by Google in determining the build quality of a website and is a significant ranking factor. Everything is relative with Google, the larger the number of errors, the more significantly its position in search engines' listings will be affected
The US Government is considerably more advanced than the UK Government when it comes to website accessibility. It has put together a comprehensive set of guidelines that, whilst not perfect, are extremely thorough and offer detailed guidance on creating the best possible website experience for everyone, regardless of ability or disability
As a business or organisation, your website exists to inform your visitors what you do and how you may be of service to them. The easier you make it for anyone to find out what they want, the more likely they will stay on your website, have a positive experience and feel welcome
If you only check your website in Chrome, you are running the risk that visitors on other browsers may not be able to use your website fully, or, in the worst cases, not at all
Browser-compatibility is also a website accessibility issue as you cannot predict which browser a visitor with accessibility needs might be using