My Website Accessibility Checklist

Updated on Nov 25, 2020

Although I do not guarantee 100% WCAG compliance for my websites (and as I explain below, such a thing doesn’t really exist), I do try to make them compliant in the ways that are most important for accessibility. The goal here is to make your site more accessible and less-attractive for accessibility litigation than the other guy’s site.

If you do require strict WCAG compliance, I have a third-party firm that specializes in accessibility that I can work with to get your site compliant.

Note that there is actually no formal certification process you can go through to have your website definitively declared “100% compliant”. There are just a set of guidelines that are somewhat open to interpretation and a continuum of compliance levels.

My Accessibility Checklist

Below are areas where I strive for accessibility compliance. Often there are exceptions that are not compliant though, that are signed off by the client. And, this list is by no means a complete list of requirements for WCAG compliance.

Appearance

  • Text at least 14 px in size
  • Minimum color contrast rules are followed
  • States are not communicated just by color

Keyboard Access

  • All links are keyboard-accessible
  • All navigation (menus) are keyboard-accessible
  • All dynamic elements (i.e., accordions, tabs, etc.) can be operated by keyboard
  • Keyboard focus is visible

Links

  • <a> tag is used for links
  • Links in body are distinguished from surrounding text (usually by underlining)
  • Link text is descriptive

Structure

  • Only one h1 per page
  • Headings should be in sequence
  • Heading levels should not be skipped

Images

  • Images have alt text or captions
  • Images do not have title attributes

Videos

  • Video does not auto-play
  • Video can be paused
  • Video has accurate transcript or captions (read how to edit YouTube captions)

Forms

  • Fields have label tags
  • Fields are keyboard-accessible

PDFs

As I mentioned, this is not a comprehensive list, but rather some of the “biggies” that can have a really obvious effect on your site’s accessibility.

Tools and Resources

Some Common Website Features that Are Not ADA Compliant

I don’t know of a third-party slider carousel that meets WCAG guidelines. The accessibility professionals who I’ve asked have told me not to use carousels on sites that need strict accessibility compliance.

Most social embeds and embedded ads are not accessible. Animation effects may not accessible, and auto-playing videos are not allowed.

Any linked PDFs need to be re-generated with accessibility in mind, and all embedded videos need captions or transcripts.

A Note About Overlays and Instant Compliance

You might have heard of services that claim to make your website “100% accessibility compliant” instantly by adding a button or “overlay”. The vast majority of accessibility experts see these services as snake oil which don’t work. Worse, they may make your site an even bigger target for accessibility litigation:

nearly all of the functionality provided by these tools has no impact on your level of WCAG conformance whatsoever. Furthermore, these overlays provide little or no additional legal protection for your website. In fact, in recent lawsuit filings, screenshots of these tools are being used to build the claim against websites that are not also seeking a holistic approach to ADA compliance. It is also a common belief that these tools may increase your risk with regards to security, and many company’s security policies prohibit the installation of widgets like these.

Michele Landis, Kelly Heikkila, Jason Webb, Accessible360

So obviously, I don’t advocate using services, whether free or paid, that promise instant accessibility simply by installing a plugin or code snippet. As the quote says, it takes a wholistic approach to many aspects of the website itself, as well as offline resources like videos, embeds, and PDFs.

Conclusion

Let me know if you have any questions or comments about this topic! – Brian

0 Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Articles

Why I Use the WordPress Divi Theme

Why I Use the WordPress Divi Theme

If you ask a WordPress developer what their favorite builder theme is, you'll get a very opinionated answer, kind of like asking a photographer what brand of camera is best, or a gamer what console is best. The truth is, there are a lot of great themes out there. Many...

Why You Should Own Your Own Domain Name and Web Hosting Accounts

Why You Should Own Your Own Domain Name and Web Hosting Accounts

I always tell my clients to set up their own domain name and web hosting accounts and pay for with their own credit card. I do not provide hosting. Here's why I think you should not let your web developer (or any third party) own your web and domain name accounts. 1....

My Website Project Kickoff Checklist

My Website Project Kickoff Checklist

These are some questions I think about before starting a new website project. It's a great checklist to go through before starting to help you scope out your project. A. Audience and Purpose Who is the target audience of the website?What is the site tagline, in...

How to Clear Your Browser Cache to See the Latest Version of a Website

How to Clear Your Browser Cache to See the Latest Version of a Website

When your web developer makes changes to a website, you might not see those changes in your browser because of something called "browser caching". Basically, that means that the browser keeps old copies of parts of the website locally so it doesn't have to re-load...

Three Basic Questions You Should Answer Before Building Your New Website

Three Basic Questions You Should Answer Before Building Your New Website

Knowing the answers to these three questions will help your site's messaging stay focused and clear. Before thinking about your site's colors, fonts, images, and content, you should answer these three basic questions about your website's messaging and goals. The...

Which Web Hosting Company Should You Use?

Which Web Hosting Company Should You Use?

If you want to put your content on the Internet, you'll have to choose a web hosting provider. This is the company that will store your website on a computer which is connected to the Internet and can serve it up to visitors. If research hosting companies on the...

WordPress vs. Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace

WordPress vs. Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace

One question I sometimes get from clients is whether they should use WordPress or one of the online website builder services like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. Unlike some web developers (and designers), I believe those services can be the right choice in some...

Shares