The Reality of ADA Website Compliance “Checkers” (Scans)

A common search in this space is ADA Compliance Checker and ADA Website Compliance Checker. And so the intent here is to find an automated scan that can instantly return accessibility issues on a website.

So one thing that’s important, though, is that this isn’t determining- a scan isn’t going to determine whether your website would be ADA compliant. It’s a website accessibility scan. So that’s the first thing to keep in mind. The second thing to keep in mind is that scans are limited, and they still require a manual review.

And just because accessibility issues are returned, it doesn’t mean that the work is finished because a manual review is still necessary and that’s why I use the word flag instead of find because even- first of all, let’s put this in the context of the 50 success criteria or requirements under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 AA.

Most scans are going to flag about 12 to 14 issues. It really depends. And I say it depends because there are partial flags. So the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and how success criteria that are layered and a scan may be able to detect part of that success criteria, but you won’t be able to fully flag it.

And even if there are issues that scans flag, you still have to manually review those. And the main reason why is because there may be a false negative, a scan may not return any issue where one exists. So it’s important to understand the limitations, scans are extremely helpful and can help you find some of the most important accessibility issues. But it’s important to know that they’re not conclusive.

Getting your arrows down to zero on a scan is a nice milestone to reach, but it is not the end. And it’s important also to know that the scans vary. Usually, there’s a strong overlap, but some scans will vary in how many rulesets they have and what they detected, and how helpful they are in helping you understand what to fix, what needs to be edited, what needs to be done, what- how to understand the issue.

So I’m thinking once again, I’m thinking about right now, is Google Lighthouse. Google Lighthouse is simple and easy to use, but it only- it has a limited subset of rulesets. And it’s working off of the axe score scan, which is more of a developer scan. It’s more technical.

I personally prefer the WAVE scan, because it is intuitive, simple, easy to use, and anybody can instantly start using it, finding accessibility issues and learning about accessibility as they go. So there are so many different scans out there. There’s not too much difference between them. In most instances.

There’s a lot of overlap. But the important thing to know is that when you are looking for a checker, it’s really a scan. It’s not checking for ADA compliance, it’s just finding a limited- it’s just detecting a limited number of accessibility issues under Web Content Accessibility Guidelines that are flagged for you to manually review.