The Americans with Disabilities Act isn’t new – it came into force in 1990 – but it’s increasingly being applied to the use of the web. Obviously, this was never fully intended by the law back in the 90s, so other standards like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were established to provide website owners with updated information. By following the guidelines, it’s possible to turn an inaccessible website into one that people with disabilities can use too.
If your company or another has compliance issues with their website, how can you spot them and do something about it? This is what this article discusses.
Looking Manually at a Site
It’s always possible to load up a site and see how it appears to you. Then you could run through the guidelines in the WCAG to see how it stacks up. For instance, the accessibility fundamentals from the W3C break it down by section. However, it’s often a baffling list of requirements. Some reach over fifty of them, which is a cause for concern for website owners trying to understand what’s best to do. Viewing this video from the W3C website provides a primer about the various standards and why they’re beneficial to people with accessibility issues.
Pick Up on the Glaring Issues
Looking for the big wins with the glaring issues on a site is a good idea. Sorting these out can leave fewer, smaller teething problems to find solutions for when going through the process manually.
Images with Alt Tags
Images are an obvious one. They all need to have descriptive alt tags that go around the image in the HTML code. The idea is that for people with inferior or no vision at all, seeing what the image shows is next to impossible or cannot be achieved. Therefore, the alt tag can effectively describe what they would observe if they could view it. Adding them for all images on the site enables greater access for all.
Videos with Subtitles
Videos should have captions for what people are saying. Subtitles are beneficial to people who are hard of hearing but can read the captions while watching the video content. Any company videos should have a subtitle file added to them. YouTube is now auto-generating subtitles for videos that lack such a file, but it’s an imperfect solution. Other solutions include using a color selection with plenty of contrast to make the site easier to see and providing alternatives.
Using Tools to Find Other Issues
A software tool such as a plugin or website that scans for compliance issues is another direction to go in. It does require investing in a service like the one from accessiBe. In their case, they use AI to scan for problems with site design, accessibility features, and more. Site visitors can also enable and disable accessibility features themselves as well.
Some websites do provide scanners that run through your site and highlight potential accessibility issues. For instance, Ahrefs provides a site scanning tool and plugin that highlights various potential site problems including missing alt tags. However, it lacks the sophistication to pull up videos without captions or color contrast concerns because it’s not related to accessibility alone.
Spotting compliance concerns isn’t too difficult once you have a clear idea of what to look for. Using various tools can do much of the leg work for you, save time and allow the site to be compliant much sooner than it otherwise would.