5. Procurement and Accessibility Policy
Even expertly created audits or assessments can benefit from a second opinion. Not all auditors approach accessibility requirements the same way. Some may have a more strict approach, following guidelines and techniques more stringently. Others may have a more practical approach, taking into consideration a range of variables such as budget, human resources, and adaptive technology support for particular techniques, etc. Those with a practical approach come up with solutions that best fit the circumstance, perhaps foregoing some of the strict compliance rules in favour of feasibility.
Web Accessibility Auditing Services
There are a growing number of companies that provide professional web accessibility auditing services. Not all of these companies are reputable and may not have an expert understanding of web accessibility. Some of the same strategies one might use to evaluate the accessibility knowledge of a vendor can also be used to evaluate the knowledge of a potential auditor.
If you would like a third-party accessibility auditing service to evaluate a product your organization is intending to procure, here are a few things you should look for:
- Does the service provide tools? The more reputable services develop their own tools such as automated checkers, contrast evaluators, and browser plugins, etc. that the average user can use to test accessibility for themselves. A good collection of tools is a good indicator that the service knows what it is doing. Tools may also indicate that developers are on staff.
- How long has the service been in business? If you can’t find any indication of how long the service has been in business, be wary. If a service has been around for a while (over five years), it’s a good indication.
- Is there a sample audit you can examine? You can tell a lot about the skills of auditors by the reports they produce. Ask for one if you can’t find one on the Web. If you are unable to get a sample, be wary.
- Is the audit methodology posted publicly? Auditing services that know what they are doing will post their methods for everyone to see.
- Are there a variety of services to choose from? The more reputable services will include a variety of audit options, training for different audiences, website accessibility monitoring, and other services that approach web accessibility from many angles.
- Is the service’s website accessible? Reputable services will lead by example. Their websites will be spotless from an accessibility perspective and the HTML of the site should validate.
Third-Party Web Accessibility Auditing
It may be beneficial for both the vendor and the procuring organization to have a third-party accessibility auditing service brought in to provide an unbiased review of the software being acquired. This requirement may be part of a contractual agreement that requires confirmation of compliance with a given standard from an expert working at arm’s length from the two parties. It provides a level of protection for both parties, providing an objective account of a software’s state of accessibility that both parties can refer to if disagreement should arise.
A Few Reputable Accessibility Auditing Services
Here are a few web accessibility auditing services known to be reputable: