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Website Accessibility Checklist – Should You Be Using One?

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A website accessibility checklist, sometimes referred to as an ADA compliance website checklist, provides a list of to-dos to take care of to improve the accessibility of your website, mobile app, or other digital asset.

website accessibility checklist

While all checklists will map to a version and conformance level of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a full checklist of all 50 success criteria WCAG 2.1 AA is not always needed.

Rather, checklists can be organized by roles (e.g., developer, designer, content editor), by accessibility (e.g., visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, etc.), by legal priority, by specific changes (e.g., add alt text to images, add transcripts to podcasts) or by another assignment.

Not only are they practically useful to individuals directly making changes but they help in program management and executing on accessibility plans.

Let’s look at a sample checklist as well as some pros and cons of using ADA compliance website checklists.

What Might Be Included in a Checklist

A complete checklist will address the accessibility of many types of elements on a website. Sometimes the measures outlined merely make the website easier to use. Other times, the measures can prevent an outright barrier to using the website. Those including the latter in their checklists sometimes refer to the checklist as an ADA compliance website checklist.

Measures taken account for people who have vision, hearing, mobility, cognitive impairments as well as other disabilities.

Here is a general checklist of accessibility measures along with descriptions of how some people with disabilities may be affected.

  • Alternative Text for Images: A person with blindness or a major vision problem may be using a screen reader to interpret what’s on the page. Without accurately descriptive alt-text for non-text elements on the page, the person may have a difficult time understanding the page.
  • Text Resizing: Resizable text helps people with low vision make a page’s text larger, so they have an easier time reading it. This can be a design challenge because the text must still display properly when it’s enlarged. Images with embedded or overlay text can be difficult to work with.
  • Keyboard Navigation: A person who doesn’t have the hand dexterity to use a mouse may be using arrow keys or assistive technology (like a sip-and-puff device or voice-controlled navigation). The website should be operable this way.
  • Page Titles: Individual pages should have unique titles that are brief and sufficiently descriptive. This enables a person using a screen reader to know what page they’re on as soon as they land there. Better page titles also improve SEO performance.
  • Flashing and Blinking Content Elements: Flickering lights can trigger seizures for people with epilepsy. Web content that flashes or blinks should do so at a slow enough rate to avoid this risk.
  • Video and Audio Content: People who can’t hear won’t know what’s being said in a video unless it’s captioned or a text transcript is available. People who can’t see won’t have access to the visual information in a video unless there’s audio or text description available. Video and audio accessibility features also assist people using your content who can’t watch or listen to multimedia content at the moment when using your site.
  • Color Contrast: Some people with vision disabilities can only read the text if there’s enough contrast between the text and the background color.

And, of course, any good checklist will harmonize with WCAG 2.1 AA although some accessibility measures may go beyond WCAG requirements.

For example, your organization may decide to discontinue the use of pop-ups altogether as unexpected pop-ups create a poor user experience.

The Pros and Cons of a Checklist

Whether you refer to your organization’s checklist as an ADA compliance website checklist or as a website accessibility checklist, there are pros and cons of using a checklist:

Pros:

  • Checklists are quick and easy to use.
  • Checklists are informative. Checklists can help you learn about the essential components of an accessible website or mobile app.
  • Crossing or checking off items provides a sense of psychological satisfaction and progress.

However, web accessibility checklists also have disadvantages:

  • Checklists aren’t detailed. Because they’re concise, many key details and exceptions are left out.
  • Some items may stay unchecked for extended periods because they’re more vague, complex, or contain multiple layers.
  • The how-to component is missing from checklists. While you may know what needs to be done, in some cases you may not know how to do it.

An Innovative Solution

Do you need help with prioritization and program management?

eSSENTIAL Accessibility has developed a comprehensive accessibility solution to help organizations follow WCAG and achieve and maintain compliance with accessibility standards and regulations. If you haven’t already, your organization can begin the barrier removal process by leveraging our interactive WCAG 2.1 checklist available for download today.

Schedule a demo or contact us to learn more about how we can help.