How WCAG Compliance Testing Can Help Your Business Grow?

WCAG compliance testing

Every business today has a digital presence, whether it is to spread awareness and talk about its offering or to reach customers through the digital marketplace. With digital playing such a decisive role, businesses cannot afford to overlook being at least Level A WCAG compliant.

The WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) document is an internationally recognized guard-rail metric that lays down inclusive best practices, minimum digital requirements, and aspects to look out for, which make your digital assets reach every single customer regardless of their disabilities (or abilities)  and circumstances. 

The best way to check if your business and its digital presence are WCAG-compliant is through the 5-step WCAG compliance testing process. This process can not only point out areas that need more work but also safeguard you against expensive litigations.

What is WCAG Testing?

WCAG Testing is a process to assess the compliance levels and accessibility of digital products for all individuals. It ensures those living on the spectrum of disability, including visual, hearing or cognitive impairment as well as other physical limitations can access digital content. WCAG compliance testing also helps web content deliver the desired experience for those using screen reader software regardless of their abilities. 

Why is WCAG Compliance Testing important?

Today just over 10% of the websites are accessible to those using assistive technology. Over 800,000 issues were spotted in a WCAG audit of Fortune 100 companies, highlighting how even those fail to meet the most basic, Level A accessibility criterion. With about 1/6 of the world dealing with some disability or another these lapses are very telling of the audiences that businesses are failing to convert as their customers. A Gartner study for 2023 predicted that businesses that conform to WCAG will see their digital content outperform those that do not by as much as 50%. In a cut-throat market place that is a huge customer advantage.

Top-line Benefits

  • Increased Audience Reach – With improved accessibility, a business can reach audiences that up till then remained outside its customer base. Plus it means an increased awareness and deeper penetration of the business’s product or service offering.
  • Improved Brand Image – Being able to convert even a fraction of the additional customers reached through enhanced accessibility into a loyal consumer base can mean additional revenue for the business at no extra cost. Besides, being inclusive and committed to fair practices adds to the positive perception of the business and its brand.
  • SEO Advantages – A robust, accessible, and inclusive website with improved usability, enhanced user experience, and increased time spent boosts a website’s SEO performance impacting its overall ranking and appearance in topical searches for all audiences

Bottom-line benefits

  • Legal Spend Economies – Increased awareness of web accessibility and the use of assistive technology means more and more customers are cognizant of their rights to fair and inclusive business practices. A WCAG compliance website and digital presence are very useful in protecting the business from lawsuits resulting from customer inconvenience, perceived discrimination, or unfair practices.

WCAG Compliance Testing: A Step-by-Step Guide

WCAG compliance checking can seem like a daunting task, but it can be made quite simple with a systematic and step-by-step approach. This approach is also very handy if you are starting to design or develop a new website to add to your process. By doing that you can make sure your work passes the WCAG compliance checker.

Step 1: Initial Assessment of Your Website

Check for the basics:

  • Image text alternatives (“alt text”) – When users (with visual impairments, reading disabilities, or just in need of) require assistive technology like screen readers, they might miss the holistic feel of the web page unless all images are tagged with descriptive text that works as a visual alternate.  Make sure you add text summary to the images used that can be picked by screen readers as text alternate to the image. Highlight the point you are trying to convey through the image in the description.
  • Headings – All web pages have a page heading, sometimes followed by topic and section headings. These should all be marked up and easily navigated through a clear level structure hierarchy for people using assistive technology like screen readers or other users who cannot use the mouse or only use a keyboard. When checking for headings, make sure that all headings are marked up, and are part of a clear meaningful hierarchy of each conceptual section.
  • Color Contrast ratio – Suitable contrast between the background color and the color of the text makes reading easier for all readers however, it becomes even more critical for those on the spectrum of visual impairment. On the other hand, for people living with reading disabilities such as Dyslexia bright colors pose a difficulty in reading. The solution to this challenge lies in designing web pages with the ideal contrast of 4.5:1 with options such as Contrast Ratio Table, Turing off Color, Eye-Dropper to select the preferable color, etc. made easily identifiable.
  • Text Resize– Sometimes users need to enlarge the text or change the font or its spacing on a web page to access the information there. If this text is layered incorrectly or if it is placed in an image format it cannot be enlarged specifically. At times the text spreads horizontally and out of the screen margins and at other times it overlaps other text or images on the page. Check for text size, font, and spacing alterations through text settings, text-only zoom, and page zoom to ensure the readability of text in all scenarios.
  • Keyboard Access and Visual Focus – Many users, specifically those with visual impairments and physical constraints (unable to use a mouse) prefer to use the keyboard or assistive technology such as voice input. All information, links, buttons, media controls, and forms must be easily accessible, clearly structured, and logically ordered. To check this, switch to keyboard access for your browser and test the site navigation through the tab function, directional arrows, and clear visual focus highlighting where the tab is on the screen. Ensure that the tab follows a logical order, you can tab back to specific fields, you can tab to drop-down lists and navigate using arrows, have media control, and click on images.
  • Forms, Labels, and Errors – One of the most critical elements on any webpage to check for accessibility are any kind of forms or entry fields. The first part aspect to check in the forms is how the information is presented. The requirement or labels should be placed before the field requiring user input such as email or search function. Sometimes text needs to follow the user input like in the case of radio buttons seen on MCQs. All instructions for each section of the forms should be mentioned ahead of the form. All mandatory fields should be marked prominently. A key aspect of checking forms and labels is to check how they respond to errors. For this, consciously enter perceivably wrong inputs such as empty fields, date formats, or missing numerals or signs in fields such as phone, email, or zip codes. Observe and report how the error fields are marked. Are they easily findable, is there enough guidance provided to fix the error, is the field of error marked both by color and symbol, etc?
  • Moving, Flashing, or Blinking Content – For people with visual or cognitive challenges reading and comprehending moving information such as image carousels, scrolling feeds, and information tickers might be difficult. For others with attention deficit or visual processing disorders auto-playing content, pop-up ads, or bright and blinking messaging might prove to be troublesome. Check to see if all moving, flashing, and blinking content can be turned off, paused, or stopped by the user. Additionally, check if the user can navigate the content at their own pace. Ensure that this content doesn’t cover a large area on the screen, is either too loud or too bright, and doesn’t flash more than thrice in a second to support those with photosensitive epilepsy.
  • Multimedia (video, audio) alternatives – For people with visual or hearing impairments, multimedia content poses a challenge. Besides ensuring the keyboard accessibility and navigation of this content, check that all videos are supported by subtitle text with language preference options. The transcripts should match the visuals, sync with spoken content, and include important sounds that aid the scene such as footsteps, door closing, etc. The transcripts can also serve those with visual challenges by providing accurate audio descriptions that can be picked by screen readers.
  • Basic structure check – Web pages are designed for an optimum user experience with various elements that support the brand tone and subject. However, they are not accessed by people with disabilities in their default settings. Having the myriad ways people consume this content, this aspect checks to see if the information continues to deliver the same structure and comprehensibility through changes in format, text sizing, screen readers, braille displays, alternative text, linearized format, etc. For this turn off the style sheets, linearize the page, and switch to text alternate to images.
  • Testing Different Devices and Browsers: The digital space today is accessed through multiple devices interchangeably. This means that these above-listed basics need to be tested across different browsers as well as different devices such as mobiles, desktops, laptops, and tablets for uniform user accessibility and experience.

Step 2: Use Automated Tools for Preliminary Analysis 

Having understood the basic requirements of WCAG through the initial assessment section, the WCAG compliance testing process might seem demanding. Yet it can be done in a few easy steps. The preliminary automated accessibility testing and analysis is a quick, efficient, and cost-effective way to run WCAG checks through web pages. They scan the content to check standard functionality and pick out accessibility issues. Automated tools tackle the quantitive aspect of WCAG accessibility testing.

Step 3: Conduct Manual Testing for Detailed Insights

Once the quantitive aspect of the compliance check is taken care of, manual accessibility testing assists in ensuring the qualitative facets of the accessibility inclusions. While automated testing and tools can verify the basic accessibility requirements, it is only through the human intellect that we can check the relevance, accuracy, and context of the descriptions provided for various media used. Instead of looking to choose between automated vs manual accessibility testing, it is advisable to use a hybrid approach that allows you to leverage the advantages of both while delivering economies of scale and time.

Step 4: Involve Users with Disabilities in the Testing Process

Another way to optimize and guarantee high quality inclusive and accessible web presence is to engage users with disability in your testing process. Getting end-user inputs helps reconfigure practices with real-world feedback making sure your website is totally WCAG compliant.

Step 5: Regular Testing and Maintenance

Technology is constantly evolving and becoming more efficient. Organizational goals change and processes become more streamlined. Human resources and staff revision changes or adds perspective. WCAG gets updated. Newer mediums and communication emerge. New content is added to websites. All these factors require businesses to continue to review and assess their inclusivity practices to keep their digital content accessible and sensitive to those living with disabilities. The foolproof way to achieve this is setting up recurring periodic audits that can help a business’s digital assets keep up with all the changes.


Web Accessibility Testing is a crucial process that helps organizations stay inclusive, and expand their reach exponentially. Based on the POUR acronym (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust) it provides a thorough evaluation and a practical roadmap to build your organization’s digital presence to deliver total inclusivity and accessibility.


Debangku Sarma

Digital Marketing Associate
Continual Engine

Vijayshree Vethantham

Senior Vice-President, Growth & Strategy
Continual Engine US LLC

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