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Audit Success Criteria Explained

When you’re working on a project audit, you’ll notice that there’s two major sections of the audit editor – Observations and Success Criteria. This article explains the latter, Success Criteria, if you’re looking for more details about observations check out this accompanying article.

Audit editor page with a green box around the Success Criteria section to the right of Observations


The Success Criteria section starts with some filtering options followed by a series of buttons representing all of the WCAG 2.1 Success Criteria sorted by the four POUR principles of accessibility (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust).

This section is here to help you ensure you’re reviewing all relevant success criteria as part of your audit. Selecting a status for all success criteria of every Target Sample is not required, they’re here solely to aid you in keeping track of your progress and is used in calculating an estimated percentage completion on your dashboard.


Filters within the Success Criteria section of the audit editor, options include "filter by status", "filter by level", and "filter by version"

There are 78 criteria in WCAG 2.1 and more coming in 2.2, in order to help navigate this large number more easily we’ve added three filters to help you narrow your focus to specific criteria based on your needs.

  • by Status – filter based on the current status of each criteria, if you haven’t set a status yet the default is “Unchecked”
  • by Level – filter based on the criterion level (A, AA, or AAA). This defaults to the Conformance Target chosen in Step 1 when the project was created. For example if you chose “WCAG 2.1 Level AA” then this defaults to showing Level A and AA only.
  • by Version – filter based on WCAG version, currently 2.0 Only or both 2.0 and 2.1. Like the Level filter, this defaults to the Conformance Target chosen when creating the project.

Criteria Buttons

Success Criteria section of the Be Inclusive audit editor, buttons for each success criteria are sorted by the WCAG POUR principles.

Below the filters are sections for each of the POUR principles, and in each section are a series of buttons labeled with a Success Criterion identifier (like 1.1.1). Clicking on any of these buttons reveals a small modal with:

  • Criterion Name and Level
  • Criterion Status selection
  • “Show criterion detail” button
Criterion modal in the Success Criteria section of a Be Inclusive audit, contains the criterion name, current status defined, and more introductory details about the criterion with links to official WCAG documentation.

The Criterion Name and Level as well as the “Show criterion detail” button are all present to help with some more information about the criterion including a brief description and links to further WCAG documentation.

Criterion Status selection

The Criterion Status selection is where you can keep track of your auditing status for this particular criterion using one of five available options:

  • Passed – Denotes that you’re validating this success criterion passed your tests
  • Failed – Denotes that you’re validating this success criterion failed your tests, when chosen a new Observation is opened for you with that success criterion selected automatically.
  • Unsure – Denotes that some testing has been done but the results are currently inconclusive.
  • Not Present – Denotes that the subject of this criterion is not present. For example on target samples with no audio or video present you can mark criteria like “1.2.1 – Audio-only and Video-only” as Not Present.
  • Not Evaluated – Denotes that the subject of this criterion was purposefully not evaluated as part of the current audit.
  • Unchecked/Reset – Denotes that testing hasn’t been completed for this criterion yet.

You’ll notice that all default to a status of ‘Unchecked’, as you progress through your audit you can mark each criteria as: Passed’, ‘Failed’, ‘Unsure’, ‘Not Present’, or ‘Not Evaluated’.

Target Sample vs Entire Sample

You’ll notice that the success criterion status options are repeated twice, first with a title of “Target Sample” and again titled “Entire Sample”:

  • Target Sample will update the status of the criterion for the currently selected Target Sample only. Choose this when you plan to validate all criteria for each target sample individually.
  • Entire Sample will update the status of the criterion for all samples in an audit at once. Helpful for marking a criterion failed for a global observation, for example.

Wrapping Up

The number of statuses that have been completed (marked as anything but “Unchecked/Reset”) for success criteria across each target sample is what the percentage complete calculation is based on in your project dashboard. The 6% in the screenshot below, for example:

Be Inclusive Test Project with one audit in progress called "Audit 1", currently marked at 6% completed.
The 6% completed for this “Audit 1” audit is based on the success criteria that have been given a status other than “Unchecked/Reset”

This isn’t a perfect representation of how far along an audit is, but it can be helpful estimation if you choose to fill out all the success criteria statuses as you go.

Last updated: Feb 20th 2023

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