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5 Tips for Actionable Accessibility Audit Results

Have you ever received a dense Excel spreadsheet of accessibility issues that left you scratching your head wondering where you should begin with your remediation effort? Well you're not alone, this is one of the biggest problems Be Inclusive was created to solve but it can't do it all automatically. There will always be a need for manual attention and organization during the auditing phase in order to set ourselves up for success during remediation.

It's that manual attention and organization that is the focus of this article, I'd like to share some tips to consider while auditing that will help jump start your remediation efforts.

Tip 1: Over-document the observation

There's no such thing as too much documentation, I've been caught by this so many times in my own audit and remediation efforts. That's why this tip is #1.

Some ideas to help with documentation:

  • Attach screenshots and videos, any visual references of what the observation refers to can be very handy in finding and reproducing it during remediation.
  • Add as much detail about the observation as you can. Consider where the issue found, what state the page was in when it happened, did you take any steps before it happened?
  • What you as an auditor may consider obvious now likely won't be to the person reviewing and remediating, write it down anyway. I've been both auditor and dev remediating and past-me notes often helped current-me remember details I had forgotten.

Tip 2: Estimate the effort and priority

One of the first questions you're bound to get when an audit is done is "what should we get started on first?" In order to be able to more intelligently answer that question, you should take a guess on what the general effort and priority is for each observation as you're logging them.

Effort - An educated guess on how much work is involved to remediate. Be Inclusive has a field available for this with the following options:

  • Unknown
  • Significant - Too much to estimate without more investigation
  • High - Effort measured in weeks
  • Medium - Effort measured in days
  • Low - Effort measured in hours

Priority - How important remediating an observation would be. Be Inclusive has a field available for this as well with the following options:

  • 1 - Critical, Some groups can't successfully access
  • 2 - Serious, Some groups will have a harder time accessing
  • 3 - Moderate, Potentially makes accessing less pleasant
  • 4 - Minor, Won't cause usability problems
  • 5 - Best Practice

These selections are then charted in the Accessibility Audit Report to show the overall impact potential, which goes a long way in deciding what to work on first during remediation. It's the highest priority and lowest effort that yield the greatest impact quickly.

Tip 3: Add remediation notes

Once you've spent the time finding and documenting an observation, chances are you have some ideas for how it can be remediated too. Jot down those ideas, even if they're ideas on what to research with more intent, every bit counts. Try to approach it as if you're explaining things to someone unfamiliar with what you're talking about:

  • share links to articles with more info
  • explain why you're making these recommendations
  • add before/after code snippets if possible

Tip 4: Get feedback

Accessibility auditing is full of grey areas and opinions, get feedback from peers when you're not sure about something. The more peer review the more comprehensive the audit results will be, and you get the added benefit of knowledge sharing among your team.

Tip 5: Take time to write an executive summary

The audit is only the beginning, whether we like it or not we need to be able to make the case for holding time aside for remediation. The executive summary is often the most enlightening part for folks unfamiliar with accessibility or without the time to read through observations on their own. It should be fairly concise and cover at least the following:

  • The scope, process, tools, and team - if you're using Be Inclusive much of this should be covered already
  • Common Themes - Summary of most pervasive and/or critical issues
  • Comparison - If this is one in a series, some comparison to past results would be helpful
  • Remediation Suggestions - Like common themes, this can be a summary of overall remediation suggestions. Listing some quick wins here may be desirable as well.

Wrapping Up

Keeping these five tips in mind during the audit will go far in setting you up for success when you move into remediation. Similar to the ubiquitous "shift left" mentality, shifting a bit more attention to the start of the audit process will end up saving you time later when performing those most critical updates that improve the accessibility of your digital products. At the end of the day, isn't that what it's all about?

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