Check websites annually
Websites should be 'spot checked' annually to find any issues that could have arisen with content accessibility.
Choose a range of pages to check that can represent what's happening across the whole site, such as:
- One of each template type
- Pages with images
- Pages with multimedia
- Online forms
- Any other type of content that's different in some way
All staff can easily run tests 1 - 6 below. The taking it further section is for website managers and staff who can take the lead in digital accessibility in their area.
1. Use the keyboard only
Try using just the keyboard to navigate.
- Is there a Skip to Content option?
- Tab through the content: does it follow a logical order?
- Is each tab location visible, can you clearly see where you are
- Is everything reachable through tabbing? Check forms and interactive elements.
An accessibility checker tool such as Microsoft Accessibility Insights can check 'tab stops' for you: see point 3 below.
2. Zoom in up to 400%
Using the default controls (CTRL and +), zoom up to 400%, checking to see if anything pixelates, gets pushed out view, or is unusable. Left to right scrolling shouldn't be needed.
Try using menus or drop-down lists, do they work ok?
3. Run a checking tool
Start by running an automated tool to find issues with colour contrast, image alt text, tab stops and more. Try Microsoft Accessibility Insights
4. Check images and multimedia
All visual content should be effectively described or marked as decorative.
Important content in video or audio recordings must have a text alternative. This may be captions, a transcript and/or a text description of the key points.
5. Check colour issues
Add Wave to your Chrome browser and use it to see a greyscale view of your page, simulating colour blindness. Can you clearly see everything?
Colour contrast and meaning
Check that colour contrast is adequate, and that colour isn’t solely relied on for meaning. Is colour the only means of conveying information? Check error highlights on forms as well as main content.
A colour contrast ratio of 4.5:1 is required for text, 3:1 for large text or graphical controls. You can check this using:
6. Check the page structure
Check that each page has a sensible title: this is shown in the tab text in your browser if you're using a laptop/PC.
Check headings hierarchy: there should only be one H1 on the page, followed by subheadings for H2, H3, and so on in sequential order, nested correctly.
You can use a Headings Map extension for Chrome browser to test this.
Take it further: screen readers
Use a screen reader for a more in-depth accessibility check. You will need to learn a little about how to use a screen reader first.
- ‘NVDA’ is a free Windows screenreader: quick guide to NVDA (WebAim)
- ‘Voiceover’ is a free Mac and iPads screenreader: Voiceover keyboard shortcuts
- Testing with assistive technologies guide (UK Government)
- If an issue stops users from completing crucial tasks, it’s a priority
- If it makes for a clunky user experience, it’s a lower level of severity
- If an issue impacts a template you use all over your site, fixing it in one place might have a much bigger positive impact
In your audit’s executive summary, include the following:
- Description of the scope defined, including the amount of pages tested and the compliance level you tested against
- Confirmation of whether you reached the desired level of compliance
- Overview of the most important issues to fix, with examples and an explanation of why those issues were deemed severe
- Details on the specific tools and plugins you used as part of the assessment.
If you need to write an accessibility statement, it should include the following:
- Dates of the audit and the statement’s creation
- Who performed the audit
- If your statement refers to a third-party system, mention if the statement includes their own accessibility audit or VPAT
Accessibility statement examples: