It’s important to make sure that your website is accessible for everyone, especially the disabled population. You want your customers to know that you value fair access by designing your website in a way that allows people with disabilities to have equal opportunities in accessing and browsing through your website sections. Additionally, you also want to protect your business from any potential web accessibility lawsuits.
To ensure that your website meets all these criteria, you need to know how to properly test your online site’s accessibility levels to check if you pass the guidelines set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Here are some of the things you need to look out for when testing your website for accessibility:
Test your Website’s Compatibility With Keyboard Navigation and Operation
Keyboard accessibility is an important feature to consider when designing a website. People with motor disabilities such as Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, muscle injuries, and impairments resulting from stroke and other conditions have difficulty using a mouse while browsing the internet, and therefore they heavily rely on using keyboard commands for online navigation.
The basic features you need to test for in checking for accessible keyboard navigation include the utilization of the Tab key, use of shortcut keys for select parts of your website, and assigning keys to access menus and forms.
The Tab key is crucial for users relying on the keyboard for full navigation. These users utilize the Tab key to switch between links, so it’s important to make sure that your website’s links can receive keyboard focus once the user attempts to highlight it with the Tab key, and it should open as soon as the user presses Enter. The movement of the Tab key is also essential, it should be from left to right and top to bottom for maximum efficiency. The focus ring should always be noticeable on the screen so that the user can easily locate where it is.
The menu option should also be accessible with the Tab key. If your submenu opens with pop-ups, make sure that the keyboard focus lifts off the main page and finds itself back on the pop-up. Design your popup screen in a way that the Tab key is limited to navigating within that pop-up only, and that pressing the Tab key will not take the user out of the pop-up. Instead, if the user wishes to leave the pop-up window, he (or she) can hit the Esc key. The focus ring should then go back to the previously highlighted link or menu option after the pop-up window is closed.
Finally, make sure that any forms on the website can be easily filled up with keyboard shortcuts. The Tab key should allow the user to switch between the fields in the form, and the spacebar should allow him (or her) to check and uncheck box options. Ensure you can check and uncheck boxes using the spacebar. If there are radio options on the form, the user should be able to switch between them by using the arrow keys (up, down, left, and right).
Use an Automated Testing Tool to Evaluate Site Accessibility Level
You can find many web accessibility testing tools on the internet for free, such as WAVE, Lighthouse, and aCe. WAVE and Lighthouse can help give you a basic understanding of any existing errors and issues with your website, but these do not necessarily mean that your website is being non-compliant with the ADA and WCAG. This is because these tools check for different factors in determining web accessibility. To get the most accurate web accessibility scores for your website, it is recommended to run it on multiple testing platforms and compare the results after.
Accessibility testing tools will do a quick scan of your website to check its sections for any errors or problems pertaining to online accessibility. The following are the most important sections to keep an eye on as they pertain to the standards set by the WCAG:
The test results on the accessibility tool should show you either a green check or a red cross mark for each section. A green check means that the section has cleared the elements required by the WCAG, while a cross mark indicates that you need to either add a missing element or modify it further to fit WCAG standards. If there are elements required by the WCAG but are not available on your website, you should see a grey, neutral circle.
Optimize Your Screen-Reader to Pass WCAG and ADA Compliance Levels
Your website should be accessible to all types of visual impairments, including people who are fully blind. Fully blind internet users heavily rely on using screen-readers to navigate through websites and understand online content.
A screen-reader is an added feature that reads website content out loud for the customer to understand. It also helps blind users operate the website better by using voice commands and customized keyboard triggers. Optimizing your screen-reader feature is a must for all websites, as 99% of accessibility lawsuits are due to screen-reader incompatibility.
When testing your screen-reader, you need to make sure that all the elements of your website can be read out clearly and audibly. Important elements to consider include titles, forms, links, and headings on the online page. If a link or menu option triggers a pop-up, ensure that the screen-reader reads out the modal script as soon as the pop-up appears to inform the user that he (or she) has been redirected to a new window.
Images should have an accurate and descriptive textual note that the screen-reader can relay to the visually-impaired user. The words used should be enough to paint a picture of the image for the web user. Avoid using words that a user who has been blind since birth won’t be able to understand or relate to.
A Final Word on Testing Your Website’s Accessibility Levels
Checking your website’s accessibility level is important to ensure you meet the standards set by the ADA and WCAG for compliance. With several accessibility testing tools available online for free, you shouldn’t have any trouble utilizing different testing platforms to assess your website accessibility compliance level in a comprehensive way.
Aside from avoiding lawsuits, it is essential to show your customers that you value equal accessibility for your website. To ensure that you are providing WCAG-compliant accessibility levels for your online page, you can always contact Access-A-Pal for professional assistance.
Access-A-Pal utilizes advanced machine learning and computer vision technologies to improve your website and verify that it gets no less than 100% compliance with the ADA and WCAG guidelines. If you need any help with improving accessibility options on your website, Access-A-Pal can surely provide you with the best technological services at the most competitive prices.