Introduction to accessibility auditing

What is covered

Accessibility auditing means using a number of standardised tests to establish what elements of the website are accessible and which elements need to be modified and improved.

This guidance is intended to help you conduct an accessibility audit successfully and gain maximum benefit from it. It is written in non-technical language for managers who are responsible for websites but who may not have a technical background.

It introduces the most widely used accessibility standards, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) of the World Wide Web Consortium.Irish Government policy recommends conformance rating Double A with the WCAG as the standard that all public sector website should aim to achieve.

The WCAG are the internationally recognised web accessibility benchmark. The following guidance will help you to improve the accessibility of your website by showing you how to audit it for accessibility against these guidelines. This process will:

  • Show where your website stands in conforming with the WCAG;
  • Indicate how it can be improved;
  • Give you an implementation plan to better accessibility;
  • Give you a basis for deciding whether to fix the identified accessibility issues or redevelop the site.

You probably need to have a web accessibility audit carried out if:

  • Your organisation is in the public sector or is otherwise obliged or committed to achieving accessibility (for example, because of corporate policy);

And

  • You do not have independent proof that it meets WCAG Level Double-A accessibility; 

Or

  • You know that the site is not compliant with WCAG Double-A (or whatever other level it is obliged to meet).

Other sections of this document deal with different types of accessibility audits, when to audit and how to organise an audit. There is also information on interpreting an audit report, what to do after an audit and sources of further information.

Web accessibility audits are very useful first steps on the road to accessibility.  However, it is important to remember that a web accessibility audit is not a goal in itself. Quality cannot be inspected into a product.  Carrying out an audit, in many cases, will be the first step towards achieving the real goal of a more accessible website and improving capacity within your organisation so as to maintain this level of accessibility.