Read time: 3 minutes 30 seconds
Getting an expert audit can help find problems with your service and make sure it meets accessibility requirements.
Work out what you need for your audit
Before you start searching for someone to carry out your audit, you’ll need to work out which elements of your service you want the audit to focus on.
It’s not usually workable to audit the whole service.
You should focus on:
- getting a representative sample of your page templates and content types tested
- any key interactive features
- your most common or important user journeys
- any particularly problematic areas you’ve seen in testing
If you build a reusable components library, get all of the components tested.
Using a library (like our Website Design System) makes things easier in the long run.
There are a number of different types of testing you could ask for in your audit, including:
- conformance audit - this is an assessment of your service against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 or WCAG 2.1
- assistive technology testing - this shows how well your service performs with things like screen readers and magnification software
- a usability review - this involves experienced testers with a range of disabilities going through your service and finding accessibility issues
Ask for assistive technology testing to be included in your audit, even if you’ve used assistive technology in your own testing.
Digital Citizen Services can help you with the type of accessibility audit you need.
Don’t leave your conformance audit until the last minute - make sure there’s time to act on the recommendations, you can:
- ask a specialist from your department to do the audit - they’ll need good accessibility and assistive technology knowledge, and experience of evaluating services against WCAG 2.0 or WCAG 2.1
- find a third party - these usually costs between $7,000 and $12,000 depending on the size and scope of your service
Remember to arrange a follow-up audit when you book your initial audit, so you can check you’ve fixed any issues.
If you’re using a third party auditor, there are a couple of extra steps you’ll need to take.
Write an accessibility audit brief
- the name of your service and a description of what it is - it’s helpful to include some screenshots and hyperlinks pointing to the location
- who your users are
- which user journeys, tasks, patterns or page types you’d like the auditor to look at - it’s helpful to provide a list of components in your pattern library
- your timescale for the audit - allow enough time for bug fixes before you move on to the next stage of user testing
- which assistive technology and browser combinations you want the auditor to test with, if that’s something you’ve asked for
- whether you’re aiming for WCAG 2.0 or WCAG 2.1 level AA or level AAA compliance
- who will read the audit report - for example, product managers or developers
- how much support you want - it’s a good idea to get support from the start and ongoing support after the audit
- whether you’ll need help fixing any issues identified in the audit
You should also tell potential suppliers:
- where you are in your development cycle
- if you want to attend any of the testing and the dates you could attend
- if any part of your service was built by a third party
Check World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) evaluation methodology if you’re not sure which pages to get tested or how the evaluation process works.
Picking a supplier
Don’t automatically go for the cheapest supplier - they often won’t represent the most valuable choice.
Look for suppliers that:
- have extensive experience of doing audits, preferably of government services
- are familiar with the Digital Service Standard criteria
- provide clear and actionable reports - it’s okay to ask to see examples
- are involved in the wider accessibility community - for example through publishing blog posts, running training and contributing to standards
- can help you prioritise issues and provide support in fixing them (for example developing coding solutions to WCAG 2.0 or WCAG 2.1) - it’s worth paying more for a supplier that can help with this
- meet your needs - for example if you need support tickets raised in a specific project management tool
What happens after the audit
- You’ll need to prioritise and fix the issues raised in your audit report. Your supplier should be able to help you with this.
- It’s worth choosing a supplier that offers this service, and paying a bit extra if necessary.
- Use your follow-up audit to check you’ve fixed all the issues.
- If you need extra help, join the community.