What is an accessibility score?

An accessibility score is a measure of how well a website conforms to accessibility guidelines and best practices. It takes into account factors such as the use of alt text for images, closed captions for videos, heading structure, and much more. The score is represented as a number between 0 and 100, with higher scores indicating better accessibility.

Accessibility scores are calculated based on compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 accessibility standard. This standard is widely recognized and accepted as the benchmark for accessibility on the web.

Why is an accessibility score important?

An accessibility score can help you monitor the accessibility of your website and ensure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can use it. This includes people with visual, auditory, and motor impairments, as well as those with cognitive and neurological disabilities. Without good accessibility, these individuals may struggle to navigate your website or may not be able to access it at all.

With 16% of the global population living with a disability, you could be turning away many visitors to your website. Ensuring you have an accessible website is just the right thing to do.

But making your website accessible also has additional benefits to your website. Catering for accessibility can also result in better UX, design, and optimized, user-friendly content. All of which make your website more attractive to search engines. This means that you’re not only able to reach a wider audience by being accessible but you are also able to boost traffic through better SEO.

How is an accessibility score calculated?

When Silktide scans your website, it also checks everything from your content, design, and back-end code for accessibility. Accessibility checks are made against WCAG 2.0, 2.1, and 2.2, but the score is only calculated based on your website’s compliance against WCAG 2.1 accessibility standards.

So accessibility scores allow you to get a general oversight over how your website is performing against compliance standards. They are also often used in regular reports to higher management to show progress over time.

It’s worth noting that some of the accessibility checks that are part of WCAG 2.1 are not possible to detect using automation. That’s why Silktide flags these areas as a potential issue so that you can manually test these and confirm whether they are accessible.

How can accessibility scores help you improve your website?

Accessibility scores provide a quick and easy way to assess the accessibility of your website. You can also segment different sections of your website to see your scores across predefined sections. By focusing on the areas where your score is low, you can make targeted improvements to your website’s accessibility.

It’s important to note that a score of 100 may be unattainable for some websites quickly. Instead, you should try to focus on making incremental improvements to your score over time, and make sure you monitor new content for accessibility as it’s published.

Monitoring your accessibility scores over time helps you discover how well you’re performing, and gives you something to aim for. They also help you report on your accessibility efforts.

If I have an accessibility score of 100, am I now fully accessible?

It’s unlikely that an automated accessibility score of 100 means your entire website is fully accessible. This is because automated solutions cannot check everything. As a rough guide, automated solutions like Silktide can cover around 40% of the WCAG criteria.

Everyone should combine automated and manual accessibility auditing together.

How can I make my website more accessible?

Conduct a thorough web accessibility audit

There are two main approaches to finding and remediating web accessibility problems. The first is by using automated tools that check your website for problems, report on them, and help you understand and fix them. The second is by engaging accessibility specialists to manually assess individual web pages and templates, using a range of assistive technologies.

Each has its benefits and drawbacks. Our recommendation is always that you should take a combined approach to web accessibility, with both manual and automated assessments.

Let’s discuss each approach.

Automated accessibility testing

Using software to scan your websites and find accessibility problems allows you to find things you wouldn’t find with manual assessment alone. Automation can cover every page of your site. This is important because accessibility problems are not only restricted to website code, but they arise when inaccessible content is created by your team.

Barriers are created by having video content without subtitles, or poorly contrasting text content. Your content editors and your designers are responsible for these. Problems with navigation, by using a keyboard, for example, are generally fixed by your development team.

Software can detect common problems like these and alert you to where they are on each page of your site. This means your accessibility audit becomes a lot easier, and you can usually have your entire site scanned in a matter of minutes, depending on its size.

Once the site is assessed, the results are presented to you along with a prioritized list of actions. Most platforms will also give you explanations of the problems and show you how to fix them, usually in plain language to make it easier for your team.

Of course, computers are not capable of finding everything, so this is why automated testing should be undertaken alongside regular manual assessments.

Manual accessibility testing

Backed by years of experience, web accessibility experts study individual pages, templates, themes, and forms, and approach their testing by trying to use your site as a person with disabilities might.

Manual assessment gives you the opportunity to learn how people use your site and offers additional context that automated testing alone cannot. This includes navigating without a mouse, using technologies that read the contents of your website out, or ensuring that the images are correctly labeled with text alternatives if needed.

The drawback is that the process is labor-intensive, and you cannot get full coverage of your entire website using manual testing alone.

Combining automated and manual auditing will give you the most coverage and allow you to create a comprehensive report. This is key to forming your plan for tackling the problems. Without automated testing, you could spend most of that time just trying to find the problems, which is not ideal when time is against you.

To get started with your audit, you should get in touch with Silktide. We offer both automated assessments with our comprehensive accessibility platform and manual auditing from our team of in-house accessibility experts. We’ll give more details about that later in this article.

Need help? Learn more about our accessibility auditing services

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