Read This Before You Use an ADA Compliance Checker
Achieving website accessibility is a task that requires continuous effort. It is a tough job that requires time and attention, and not a project that once done, is forgotten.
If you want to attain ADA compliance, the first step is to test website accessibility.
In today’s post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about an ADA compliance checker before you get started on your web accessibility journey.
ADA Compliance Checker 101
What exactly is an ADA compliance checker (aka accessibility checker)? A compliance checker is a tool that evaluates ADA compliance and identifies barriers on your website that affect differently-abled people.
You can use an accessibility checker throughout your website building process, from development to design. Additionally, this tool provides a fully automated website audit, helping you review your website manually.
This tool is helpful when you need to comply with accessibility standards.
So, why do you need to use it? ADA compliance checkers ensure that your digital content complies with regulations.
Adhering to these guidelines means that your content is also accessible to the differently-abled and other groups in the population.
If your content is accessible, users can view and use your content in different ways. These include reading captions, video and audio transcripts, and using a keyboard for navigation.
These features are helpful to a variety of people. They include:
- Users in mobile environments
- Non-native English speakers.
- Seniors who can’t perform tasks the way they used to
- Users with temporary injuries
- New and inexperienced online users
Aside from assisting disabled users, you also get more business benefits, including better SEO.
But remember: it shouldn’t stop there. While using an accessibility checker identifies barriers, you’ll still need the expertise of a consultant to conduct a thorough check.
This way, you can improve the user experience of not just one but many groups of people.
Accessibility checkers cater to a wide range of audiences. This includes developers, designers, content authors, and even end-users.
As mentioned, an accessibility checker tests your website for potential accessibility concerns. Because of this, it needs several features to be effective.
If you’re planning to audit your website first, here are the accessibility checker features you should look out for:
The best accessibility checkers support different languages.
2. Format Support
Most accessibility checkers you’ll find online test the accessibility of HTML content, while others test the accessibility of other technologies. These include CSS, PDF, and SVG.
3. Type of Tools
An accessibility checker can come in the form of a plugin or browser extension, command-line tool, or desktop or mobile application. There are also online services that offer accessibility checks.
You should also keep in mind that you can combine these tools if necessary.
Depending on where you are, you may be required to comply with different accessibility standards. Thus, different tools support different standards.
Most tools support the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the internationally recognized accessibility standard.
You can use some accessibility checkers in more than one way when it comes to compliance assistance.
This provides users with feedback following a website scan.
2. In-Page Feedback
In-page feedback refers to the temporary icons and markup that display the results of a website audit. These are useful to evaluate accessibility issues in context.
You’re also going to need them to understand the relative importance of each accessibility issue.
3. Step-by-Step Evaluation
Most automated accessibility checkers guide users through a series of checks. These tools employ automated tests and tell the user to evaluate the rest.
For example, a fully-automated accessibility checker may check images for alternative text. Then, the user checks whether the text is appropriate or not.
4. Page Transformations
Transformation tools alter the appearance of a website to determine design issues. For instance, the accessibility checker may show the site without color or non-text content.
You can use these tools to compensate for the limitations of a fully-automated accessibility checker.
You’ll find a variety of license types that cover accessibility checkers. These include Enterprise, Commercial, and Open Source.
7. Automatic Checks
Depending on what accessibility checker you use, the scope of what it can automatically check varies. Some tools can check a group of related web pages, while others can only check one at a time.
Others also check accessibility issues on password-restricted content.
8. Accessibility Information
Of course, an accessibility checker must be accessible to differently-abled people. Hence, you’ll find some tools that provide information about how they support accessibility.
9. Report Format
Most tools provide reports in different formats, including HTML, XML, PDF, and CSV.
Some quality assurance and content creation tools enable you to access an accessibility checker directly. Thus, the accessibility checker provides different types of APIs for this interaction.
11. Browser Plugins
You can use browser plugins/extensions to ensure website content is correct and runs smoothly within a browser.
12. Online Service
An accessibility checker can provide different online services. These include:
- Some checkers let you enter your web address to check it against various standards and specifications.
- Server installation of some tools can audit your website on an internal network. Some of these tools can also check password-protected or draft content.
- Hosted services regularly check your website for accessibility and report on your website’s improvement. Others also offer enterprise solutions, which you can access through a subscription.
13. Authoring Tool Plugins
Some accessibility checkers guide non-technical content authors to test content within their tools directly. These include MS Word, content management systems, and Adobe Acrobat.
Of course, before using an accessibility checker, there are factors that you have to consider. For example, you may need a fully-automated accessibility checker, while other companies may only need occasional website audits.
Thus, different teams and projects call for different features. Here are some of the things you may want to consider when choosing accessibility plugins:
1) Organizational structure and website development process
A combination of evaluation tools could meet the team members’ different needs during all project stages.
2) Complexity and size of online content
Websites could have a lot of multimedia content. Some complex sites could benefit from advanced technologies such as SMIL or MathML.
Thus, specialized accessibility tools may be critical for these websites.
3) Knowledge and skills of web developers
Choose the accessibility tool that is appropriate for your team’s skills.
Some evaluation tools require more knowledge of accessibility and coding, while others help increase accessibility and code knowledge.
Accessibility checkers help simplify the ADA compliance process. A checker with all the right features can make a significant difference to your website and business.
It’s important to make the most of this tool and make your websites accessible to all. You can also find many accessibility checker options online
Find out where you stand in your accessibility journey by auditing your website on Accessibility Checker
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