Skip to main content
Skip to content

Conducting an Accessibility Audit in the UK: A Step-by-Step Guide

INSIGHTS | 8th January 2024

Article by Laura Pinkstone

If you're passionate about creating inclusive spaces and ensuring your services and products are usable by everyone, you're in the right place. Let's delve into the process, the UK regulations and some top tips to make your audit as effective as possible. Let's make the UK more accessible, one audit at a time!  


Understanding the need for accessibility 

First things first, why is accessibility important? Everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, should be able to access, use, and enjoy the digital (and physical) world. In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 mandates that services provided to the public, be it by private companies or public bodies, must be accessible. This means that failing to consider accessibility isn’t just an oversight—it's a legal requirement.  


Familiarise yourself with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is the gold standard for web accessibility. Developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), these recommendations are recognised internationally and set out how you can improve website accessibility.    


There are three levels of WCAG compliance.   

Level A – Basic   

Level AA – Industry standard  

Level AAA – Most comprehensive standard  


In the UK, services must achieve WCAG 2.1 level AA to meet government accessibility requirements.   


Assemble your team 

A successful audit often involves people with diverse expertise. This includes web developers, designers, content creators, and, most importantly, people who have disabilities. Engaging people with a range of impairments can provide invaluable insights into real-world user experiences.  

If engaging with people with a range of impairments isn’t realistic, following the WCAG 2.1 standards will outline how you can ensure your site is accessible to them.  


Choose your tools 

There's a range of automated tools available that can help you scan and identify accessibility issues. Some popular ones include:  


While these tools are immensely helpful, remember that they can't catch everything. Human judgment is invaluable, especially when considering context and usability.  


Start with a manual check 

Begin your audit by navigating through your site manually:  


  1. Use only your keyboard to navigate (tab, enter, arrow keys).  
  2. Test with screen readers like NVDA or JAWS.  
  3. Zoom in at least 200% and see if the content is still readable and functional.  


Automated testing 

Once you've done a manual check, utilise your chosen automated tools to scan the site. These will pick up on issues like missing alt text, incorrect heading structures or low contrast issues.  


Review findings and make a plan

Once you’ve collected all your findings, sort them by how severe they are. Critical issues could include elements that prevent keyboard-only users or missing text alternatives for important images.  


After highlighting what needs fixing, start to prioritise the issues. Depending on the WCAG level you are aiming for, you may have more changes to make. You can then determine what resources you require to make necessary changes and a timeline for when you will complete the work.  


Implement changes 

Work closely with your web developers and designers to address the identified issues. Regularly check back to ensure that changes haven't introduced new accessibility barriers.  


Seek feedback 

Once you’ve made changes, user testing can help ensure the changes you have made are effective and user-friendly. Remember, getting people with disabilities to test will provide the most valuable feedback.  


Keep up the momentum 

Accessibility isn't a one-time task. Technologies and standards are always evolving, and regular audits will help ensure you maintain and continue to improve your website's inclusivity.   


Conducting an accessibility audit is an essential step towards creating an inclusive digital landscape in the UK. Making your site accessible has many benefits, including widening the net of people to engage with, but most importantly it removes barriers to digital spaces. With dedication, the right tools, and a passion for inclusivity, you can make significant strides in ensuring everyone can enjoy what you have to offer.  

Whether looking to ensure your brand, content or site is fully accessible to designing with key users in mind we can help you audit what you have and put in place an accessible solution for all. Get in touch with our team to see how we can help.    

Happy auditing! 

About the author

Laura Pinkstone

UX Designer

Our latest Lab Notes