How Often Should My Business Perform a Full Web Accessibility Audit?

Website accessibility is a continuous process. How often you complete a full website accessibility audit depends on how often you update your website. At minimum, we recommend completing a full website accessibility audit at least once a year. If your website remains mostly static with minimal changes to content and little to no functionality updates, then annually may suffice.

However, if you update your website often (daily, weekly, monthly) as most successful business websites are, more frequent accessibility audits will be necessary. If your website updates include more than content-only updates, we recommend considering an option such as on-demand accessibility consulting. 

Types of website updates

To help you decide the best web accessibility strategy for your business, consider the types of updates you regularly perform. This will determine how often your website needs a full accessibility audit or if accessibility consulting is the best option.

Content-only update

Content-only updates include updates to only the text or images of a page. Adding or removing a paragraph, line of text, or updating a link would be an example of a content-only update. Blog or news posts that include only text and decorative images, would also be content-only updates. 

Content-only updates do not alter a web page’s layout or functionality. The following elements typically remain the same as the rest of the website:

  • Navigation structure
  • Heading structure 
  • Color combinations
  • Footer structure

If most of your updates are content-only and your web development teams consists of accessibility trained developers and managers who understand how to create an accessible website, we recommend scheduling an annual audit.

Functionality updates (modules, widgets, etc.)

In an ongoing effort to keep your website up-to-date with new functionality, adding or improving modules, widgets, apps, and extensions are examples of updates that require accessibility testing more often than annually. Here are a few examples that we would consider a functionality update:

  • You discover a new app or extension that displays an Instagram photo gallery. The photos dynamically add to your website each time you post on Instagram. The photos look great visually. However, accessibility testing, including testing with disabled persons, is needed to determine if everyone can see and understand the details of the images. 
  • Your marketing team decides to add a survey widget to collect information about your prospective clients. The widget uses various form elements such as input fields, radio buttons, checkboxes, and select drop downs. Each of the form elements need to be tested to ensure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can successfully complete the survey. 
  • You decide to capture leads with a new interactive chat widget. The widget displays at the bottom of each page and occasionally opens or has a visual change to notify users of its presence. Accessibility testing will ensure that all users are notified and can interact with the new chat widget.

The functionality updates listed here are a few of the most common that we notice our clients adding to their websites, but there are many other examples of functionally updates that would necessitate an accessibility audit. If you add functionality to only one page, it’s possible that auditing only that page is enough. 

We recommend that you audit the new functionality before releasing it to your live website. This will ensure that your website remains accessible at all times. It would be very unfortunate to advertise a great new functionality only to drive traffic to an inaccessible website.

Template updates

Updating a page or site template is similar to creating a new website and always requires accessibility testing. The majority of a website’s accessibility lies in the HTML page structure repeated on multiple pages. Contrary to content-only updates which keep the same navigation, heading, and footer structure, template updates will typically change the structure of these sections. 

We recommend including accessibility testing throughout the template design and development process. This ensures that you do not have to restructure your new templates after they are live on your website. Of course, this is also where accessibility training is highly beneficial for your entire website team. 

Design updates

Whether for SEO purposes or rebranding, design updates will also constitute the need for  accessibility testing. Here are a few design elements to consider testing for accessibility:

  • Color contrast plays an important role in web accessibility. While logos do not need to pass color contrast requirements (although, if you are rebranding, why would you want to limit who can actually see your logo), how you use the new branding colors throughout your website needs evaluation. 
  • HTML heading structure needs to remain intact when updating the font styles and sizes for headings. 
  • Link accessibility includes both the visual appearance of links and the HTML structure. Consider accessibility when deciding to use text-decorations or other decorative elements to distinguish links.

Using only accessibility trained designers who understand web accessibility standards will greatly decrease the amount of time and money spent on accessibility repairs.

On-demand accessibility

We understand that web development teams often have just a quick question or need a little extra guidance. Project deadlines may not allow extra time to procure a new accessibility agreement for this type of quick guidance. We also understand that it is often difficult for developers to pause development in the middle of writing code while they wait for accessibility guidance. 

Be Accessible offers an on-demand accessibility consulting package. This option works best for businesses who have already completed a full manual website accessibility audit. On-demand consulting ensures accessibility and compliance remain intact with each and every update. This service provides convenience, speed, and simplicity so that your business consistently meets and keeps accessibility standards.

How does it work?

Our on-demand accessibility service is a consulting service that enables website and document accessibility teams constant access to accessibility experts. Our experts will respond to inquiries within 24 hours with detailed instructions and guidance. The guidance allows you to accessibly create or repair your digital assets. If needed, we will also schedule live video sessions or phone calls to discuss elements in more detail. 

To secure our on-demand accessibility services, businesses purchase consulting hours in three hour increments. Use consulting hours any time in a 12 month period and provide a 24 hour response time for each inquiry. We will assign your team a consultant dedicated to your project(s). Your personal accessibility consultant will be familiar with your project. This allows us to minimize our time and maximize resources for your benefit. 

Keeping a POUR website

Regardless of whether you choose to perform annual, semi-annual, quarterly, or monthly accessibility audits or on-demand accessibility consulting, maintaining a website that is Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust involves consistent effort. The most important step that your business can take to ensure an inclusive accessible website is to start now. Prioritize accessibility, and include it in every phase of your website’s design, development, and maintenance.

Avatar for David Gevorkian

By David Gevorkian

David started Be Accessible because of his passion for website development and creating accessible products for businesses. He earned his Master’s in Business Administration from Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. David is a strong advocate for creating web interfaces and digital products usable by all people across the world.

Contact Us

Please complete all fields.

Recent Posts

Virtual Learning in Schools Requires Web Accessibility

Achieving full website accessibility requires a conscious effort from decision makers, designers, developers, and content creators. For schools, this includes teachers and staff who regularly update information.

Read more about Virtual Learning in Schools Requires Web Accessibility
team works together to create a website accessibility plan

How to Create an Implementation Plan for Website Accessibility

A website accessibility plan is a vital part of website accessibility. Businesses, government organizations, educational institutions, medical facilities, non-profit organizations, and other public entities should have a website accessibility plan in place.

Read more about How to Create an Implementation Plan for Website Accessibility

Creating Accessible and Tagged PDF Documents

Accessibility compliance is one of the many reasons that businesses elect to use PDFs to link to a document from their website.

Read more about Creating Accessible and Tagged PDF Documents