ADA audits allow anyone with a website the ability to follow web accessibility guidelines. These guidelines help make websites more accessible to individuals with disabilities.
A ADA website audit is an audit that is done using the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.1 by anyone that has a website. This ensures that businesses and services are easily accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Read on to learn about what an ADA audit for a website would look like and why your website should be up to date. You will also find some audit examples with solutions and where to find free ADA accessibility checkers.
What is an ADA Audit for a Website?
An ADA audit for a website is a series of questions you can go through to see if your website is easily accessible to anyone using assisted technology to view your website. This does not have to be only for businesses or agencies. Anyone that has a blog with information of any kind should run their website through an ADA audit.
W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium is an international community that has come together to develop web standards. Following and applying the guidelines to your website will help make it ADA accessible and accommodate a wider range of people. W3C has a set of guidelines called WCAG 2.1, WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The guidelines are broken down into four main sections:
- Perceivable – how the user views content.
- Operable – are users able to navigate easily and if needed without the use of a mouse.
- Understandable – is the text understand and is the website predictable, meaning when the site or page is accessed it will not lead anywhere that someone using assisted technology cannot navigate out of.
- Robust – this is geared more towards the markup language of your website. Making sure errors that will not run the code correctly are avoided.
The WCAG Guidelines are broken down by the above four guidelines. Each one of those main guidelines is then broken down into sub guidelines. There are also links to the right of each guideline section on how to meet the guideline and understanding the guideline.
Why Do Websites Have to be Audited?
An ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) audit for a website checks and sees if your website would be accessible to people with disabilities. People with disabilities view websites differently, and sometimes assisted technology is used to view a website. Some examples of assisted technology are:
- Braille displays – allows individuals that read braille to read info on a computer using braille cells
- Screen magnifier – makes texts and images larger on screens to be able to see them better
- Screen readers – will read a webpage from left to right, can also be used with both examples above
Most of the time, businesses or agencies will have hours of operation when they can be contacted. However, they will also have most of their company information available on their websites. By making a website accessible to everyone, you will have the ability to reach more people.
ADA Audit Examples with Solutions
The following is a list of more common website issues that could cause your website to fail an ADA audit.
A screen reader or other form of assisted technology will read through the entire navigation menu. If your website has a dropdown menu with submenus, all these navigational areas will be read as well. Any time a new page is accessed, the navigation will be read through again. By placing a skip navigation link in the top left corner of your web page, the person using the assisted technology will be ale to move down the page to where the actual information starts.
While alt tags can help with SEO, they are also useful for someone using assisted technology. Screen readers cannot read images, even if your images have words in them. The alt tag description should give the person who is unable to view the image an idea of what the actual image is. Leaving the image file name or a photographer name is not going to help.
- For example, if your website has an image of a dog with a bone, the alt tag for the image should say that.
By keeping alt tags short and on point can help a lot. When a screen reader gets to an image, the alt tag that is in place for that image is what the screen reader reads for the person that is using it.
Any videos that play on your website should have captions playing that line up with the video. It would also be helpful to add a possible description of what the video that is playing is about.
Portable Document Format (PDF)
A PDF may not always be accessible with assisted technology. Two quick ways to see if a PDF is accessible would be:
- By highlighting the text
- Checking for tags
When viewing a PDF, if the text cannot be highlighted then the PDF may actually be an image of text rather than an actual text document. This will cause a problem with screen readers because this assisted technology cannot read images. When checking a PDF for tags, if there are no tags listed in the tags list, a screen reader will not be able to read this form of a PDF.
There is a way to check and see if your PDF files are accessible with assisted technology. CommonLook offers a plug-in called CommonLook PDF Validator. This can be opened in Adobe Acrobat to run a free scan on your PDF to see if it is accessible for assisted technology.
After the scan of your PDF is finished you will be able to see if the file is compliant for an ADA audit. If anything in your file needs to be fixed, you will have the ability to do so.
Make Your Website More ADA Accessible
- You can add a phone number or email address in an easily seen area. If anyone has questions, you will be able to answer them
- You can have your website tested by another company
- You can ask the users already using your site if there is anything that would make their experience better or easier
- Going forward, anyone that is helping to update your website should have the ADA information on hand so the sites can be fixed as the site is worked on
Should I Have My Website Audited?
Whether you own a business, are a sole proprietor, or just running a blog for fun you should have your website checked. The above information should allow you different ways to see if your website would pass an audit without you having to pay for another business to check for you. One of the main reasons your website would be audited is if someone tried accessing your site and found that it was not user friendly.
If the blog you are running is just for fun, you probably will not be audited, but it would still be beneficial to have your website checked by yourself or someone else. This way, the information you provide on your website can be accessible by all.
To summarize the above, having an ADA audit done on your website would be extremely beneficial. You do not necessarily need another business to do this process for you. If anything, you would be able to work through your own website section by section by yourself.
This way, if any new pages are added to your website or you want to start a brand-new website, you will know what is needed from the beginning to make it more accessible by all.