Originally written on Apr 14, 2020. Content was updated in October 2023.
Your company has committed to making its digital platforms accessible to as wide an audience as possible. But your team doesn’t have the resources or knowledge to conduct a website accessibility evaluation to determine the actual accessibility of your site.
You need a partner to help bring it all together. One who has demonstrated a commitment to accessibility on its own websites and apps; one that can navigate the nuances of accessible design; one whose entire team is made up of experts in the process, technology, and tools needed to implement these changes; and one that conducts rigorous testing and reporting once all the work is done.
19 web accessibility testing questions you need to be asking
So how do you know which firm is right for you? Here are 19 questions you should ask when seeking out a website accessibility partner.
Commitment to Accessibility
1. Is your website accessible and usable for people with disabilities?
You can learn a lot about a potential partner from how it treats its own digital footprint. If the vendor hasn’t taken the time to get its own accessibility in order, it may not be a good fit for your company.
2. What accessible sites are in your portfolio?
Addressing accessibility can require a major investment of time and money. You want a partner who has been down this road before, preferably with clients who will rave about the partner’s performance. The firm should have a list of past clients and contacts ready.
3. How trained is your team in accessibility?
Accessibility requires a specific skill for different roles such as Design, Development and Testing. And because WCAG guidelines are periodically updated and changed, you want a firm that keeps its finger on the pulse of the industry.
4. Do you have IAAP-certified project managers and developers?
The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) is dedicated to raising the standards of those in the accessibility profession. Ideally, the firm you choose will proudly showcase its IAAP certifications.
5. What partners do you work with?
Accessibility is broad and deep. The partnerships that companies have with other experts will show you the breadth of their capabilities, as well as what types of complementary services or solutions they bring to the table.
6. How can you help make my site accessible?
There are a couple different approaches to making your site accessible. Partners may guide you, use their own technology, or use a combination of both. Review a few different approaches to decide which is best for you. If a technology company pitches you an overlay, find another solution because it will not make your site accessible.
7. Can you help with my website, apps, and content such as PDFs or videos?
Ensure that your partner can work with multiple content formats.
8. What kind of technology does your company offer or use?
Technology alone can’t make a site accessible but it can be a huge accelerator, so understand what a potential partner offers, how it works, and how the technology covers all aspects of testing, remediation, and maintaining accessibility. Again, be skeptical of overlay solutions such as Mk-Sense, AudioEye, User1st, AccessiBe, and UserWay.
9. If I am designing and building a new website, how do you help?
If you’re looking to build a new website that is accessible from the start, you’ll need a partner with design, development, and testing expertise. It should have a proven process that fits your project plan.
10. How does your contract work and what does it cover?
Let’s face it: There is a lot of litigation in this space. Ask potential partners what they offer contractually. Some companies make outrageous claims that artificial intelligence can make your site accessible, but they won't back it up in a contract.
Auditing and Testing
11. What methods of accessibility testing do you perform?
To ensure your site conforms to WCAG and is usable, you will need to conduct automated, manual, and user testing with people who use assistive tech like screen readers. Many of the WCAG success criteria can only be tested by a human, so it is important to understand that automation isn’t sufficient by itself.
12. How do you incorporate the disabled community into your testing and feedback?
When conducting website accessibility evaluation, consult the experts—people who have disabilities. Not only does this give your company real usability feedback to provide a more accessible site, but it also demonstrates your partner’s commitment to the community and dedication to getting things right.
13. How do you deliver audit and test results?
The way accessibility testing results is organized and presented can either make remediation planning efficient or cause a major headache. On a website that has never been audited, it isn’t uncommon to find hundreds or even thousands of issues. Working with Excel or Word documents can be challenging.
14. How do you help me in remediation?
Does the partner make its experts available to you, does it do the work, give you tools, or all of the above?
15. If the partner’s developers are making your site accessible, what tools and technology do they use during the development process?
Every development team needs the right tools to succeed, and accessibility is no exception. They should have accessibility testing software to test against WCAG guidelines and contrast checkers.
16. How do I start integrating accessibility into my software development lifecycle?
Even at the start of your accessibility journey, you want to start thinking about how to start including accessibility as a requirement for every project or change.
17. What type of training do you offer?
Your designers, developers, and testers may need training on accessibility concepts and technical skills. These are vital for remediation and ongoing accessibility.
Reporting and Maintenance
18. What reporting do you provide to show the site's accessibility?
A consistent and comprehensive website accessibility evaluation process is essential to track progress over time and identify ongoing issues that have yet to be resolved. A statement of accessibility conformance should include a clear scope of review, an assessment of the tools and processes used, and recommended actions to keep everything on track.
19. How will you help me maintain accessibility over time as the website content and code changes? And who does the maintenance?
Accessibility is not a fix-it-and-forget-it project. The design, content and functionality you have today will likely grow and change over time. What processes will be put in place to maintain accessibility? How will this happen in the background while still allowing your site to run smoothly for customers?
The Right Partner for Your Company
These questions should provide a useful guide that allows you to find a partner that shares your commitment to website accessibility and brings the skills, experience and expertise to make it happen. A partner that embraces the challenges of accessibility, from the first planning meeting to the last line of code.
Dive deeper into the different avenues for accessibility testing with our free online assessment.