When you are looking to resolve accessibility issues on your website, there are a few things to consider that will help you prioritize, especially if you don’t have the time or resources to address everything at one time. This will allow you to spread out your accessibility efforts over time with the resources you have.
Your organization may have run an automated checker or had a manual accessibility audit done on your website and discovered that your website isn’t accessible to everyone and you’re trying to figure out what to tackle first.
Website audits usually don’t include an audit of every single page on your website, because that can be cost prohibitive. Audits are usually performed on different types of pages, and then your developer should address those issues, looking for the same types of issues on other pages.
An audit may or may not include the priority of fixing each found issue. Even if it does, it may not take into consideration other factors—any prior complaints you may have received, the impact to your particular audience and other factors.
Website accessibility can feel overwhelming if your site has a lot of errors. But you just need to prioritize what to fix first.
Resolving Accessibility Errors on a Website
When you want to resolve accessibility issues on your website, there are a few things to consider that will help you prioritize, especially if you don’t have the time or resources to address everything at once. This will allow you to spread out your accessibility efforts over time.
If your organization has received any complaints from individuals about specific areas on your website that present an accessibility barrier or difficulty, you may wish to address those right away.
It will not only be good for all users to address this, but it will show that your organization is attentive and considerate to your audience’s needs.
The Impact to Your Audience
Another factor is the impact of the issue to your audience.
Consider who your audience is, especially if you specifically serve an older audience or individuals with a certain type of disability.
You could assign a priority based on the impact of the issues to users.
- Is the issue a barrier? Does it prevent someone from doing something?
- Does it present difficulty but is not a barrier?
What constitutes a barrier versus a difficulty differs based on the nature of the disability.
For instance, if your organization serves individuals with blindness and your site has a lot of contrast errors, those are not as crucial to address as some other types of errors.
If your organization serves individuals with fine-motor issues, then addressing any keyboard navigation issues is vital, since they may not use a mouse to get around your website.
If your organization focuses on serving senior citizens or individuals with low vision, you may want to focus on addressing contrast issues first.
While every page of a website should be accessible, you may consider resolving accessibility errors on the pages with the most traffic first.
Usually, these will be your home page, a contact page and some other pages. You can find out this information in your analytics tool.
Header and Footer
Because the header and footer appear on most or all pages on your website, you may want to start by addressing errors that you may find there. Any issues in these areas may present difficulty or a barrier for users on every page.
The header includes the navigation menu, which is essential for users to get around your website. The functionality of navigation menus is also hard to get right from an accessibility standpoint, and individuals who do not use a mouse may struggle with the navigation if it’s not set up properly for accessibility.
So you may consider fixing any types of accessibility errors that you find in the navigation—not just functional ones but visual ones. For example:
- Sufficient contrast—for readability of the text in the navigation,
- Obvious hover state—for mouse users to know which menu option they are about to select,
- Obvious focus state—for keyboard users to know which menu option they are about to select.
The way most websites are set up nowadays, these can usually be fixed in a header and footer file, which get “imported” when the pages load, as opposed to having to fix them on every single page. Some accessibility issues may be able to be addressed in the file that contains the site’s visual styling.
So just because an issue appears on every page does not mean it necessarily has to be fixed on every page.
If you have another element present on most or all pages of your website, then you could address that as well.
For example, we recently performed an accessibility audit of a site that had a contact form at the bottom of every page. Any errors present on that form were on every page.
Pages With the Most Errors
You could consider prioritizing the pages that have the highest number of errors.
A lot of ambulance-chasing lawyers (who usually also happen to know nothing about accessibility) will run automated checkers looking for accessibility errors on websites.
You’d have to confirm with an accessibility lawyer, but maybe the number of errors could make your website more of a target.
WCAG Level of Conformance
Your organization may prioritize issues based on the WCAG level of conformance—2.0 or 2.1, and A, AA or AAA.
A is the basic level, AA the typical level and what laws calls for, and AAA the highest level of WCAG conformance to achieve.
A should be easiest to meet, followed by AA then AAA, which is the not only the most difficult but may not be possible to achieve depending on some of the content on your website.
Focusing on A, then AA, may help you get more errors out of the way by focusing on those that require less effort.
If your organization is required to meet accessibility requirements, the laws usually call for WCAG 2.0 AA.
If your website has not had a manual accessibility audit or you’re unsure of how to prioritize resolving accessibility issues, find out more and contact us today.