Conducting an Accessibility Audit in the UK: A Step-by-Step Guide
INSIGHTS | 8th January 2024
INSIGHTS | 8th January 2024
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Begin your audit by navigating through your site manually:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Your website shouldn't be an island
INSIGHTS | September 1st 2021
We've produced a FREE eBook to help you deliver an integrated digital experience. Take a look at our top 5 tips on delivering an integrated digital experience and why it's more important than ever for your business.
Your website is the primary entry point to your customer. It's your digital shop window and your opportunity to stand out, to tell your story and to engage with your audience - both now and in the future.
Yet your website should never be an island. It should be truly integrated as part of an ecosystem, working hard for you and your purpose as part of a clear digital strategy.