I received an email and I thought it asked a good question and I’ll read from the email:
Is there a set of objective criteria we could use to evaluate and choose the correct service that can do a good accessibility audit and issue what would be widely considered as a legitimate certificate of conformance?
And so off the top of my head here are the bullet points that I wrote and I said the following factors are a good starting point when evaluating the legitimacy of any audit services:
1) whether they offer an automated solution such as a widget, if so disregard them
2) whether they offer marketing services like SEO, if yes then disregard them
3) whether they have been in business for at least one year, if yes then consider them
4) whether they know what a conformance statement is and what the requirements are
5) whether they mention and/or insist upon their audit being completely manual
6) whether they specify the environment and the standards used in the audit
So with the environment think of desktop, mobile, etc. and the standards used being WCAG 2.1 or 2.0.
if the provider isn’t specifying these details, if they’re just glossing right over that that’s a huge red flag because it means they’re not serious about their audit.
They should be- they should have attention to detail and this shouldn’t be on you.
It shouldn’t be the person approaching, it should be the provider that knows to ask these questions and if the provider is just saying yes, yes, yes, let’s get you an audit, audits can vary.
If I only offer a desktop audit, that’s not going to be nearly as extensive and as much work as saying desktop plus mobile.
And then beyond that, what mobile devices am I using?
Am I using a tablet?
Am I using an iPhone like what are the devices being used?
And this is not to say that every last device needs to be used but it should be specified and then moreover browser combination.
What browser combination is being used?
So someone may not go into all of that detail because let’s say a provider knows like, okay Chrome is generally going to, you know, suffice here.
But it is important to know these details and providers should be asking you or at least telling you here’s what we offer and if they don’t have that level of specificity then they are questionable.
And then the other the last bullet I wrote is whether they know the difference between user testing and an audit.
And so that is a very important difference.
And you should ask that of the person or the agency or entity that is doing the audit, what is user testing and what is an audit and if they conflate the two, then that’s a problem.
Now testing is done in an audit when a professional audit is being performed, there will be some level of testing but it is not it does not qualify as user testing.
And so the person that is offering the audit the provider they should be able to tell you the difference and if they cannot that is a big red flag.
And so I’ve done a I’ve done an I believe there’s another video I have on user testing vs. audits if not I’ll get that done and if it’s not done then it definitely is in The ADA Book.
But those are some objective criteria I would look for and make sure to ask the provider to see what they know and to see what level of detail they have.
If they’re glossing over everything and they’re just ready to give you an audit, then that’s a big red flag.