WCAG 2.1 AA Website Audit Cost for Accessibility

My price quote for a WCAG 2.1 AA website audit typically ranges from $2,000 to $12,000.

Most quotes usually fall between $4,500 – $6,500.

If you’d like to skip the article and get a quote ASAP, you can email me at kris@adabook.com.

The cost difference is driven by the following factors:

  • state of accessibility
  • number of options
  • dynamic components
  • number of elements

And, of course, the number of unique page layouts I have to account for factors in to how much I charge for a website accessibility audit.

Unique page layouts are the different types of pages on a website.

For example, an e-commerce website will have the following pages: shop, product, cart, checkout, account, login, registration.  These will all be unique and have different elements and components that need to be checked for accessibility.

How the Process Works for Clients

I get calls and emails from numerous clients, big, medium, and small.

Some are non-profits.  Some are small business bloggers.  Some are major corporations.  And, of course, they want to make sure they’re compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so they don’t get sued.

The three big steps I always recommend are:

  1. Audit
  2. Remediate
  3. Policy

First Step: Website Audit

Before you can remediate or fix your website to be accessible, you must know what needs to be fixed.

This is why you need an audit performed.  An audit is going to produce a report with an inventory of accessibility issues to address.

What is an audit based on?

As there is no formal legal prescription for ADA compliance (just the broad standard of being accessible, providing effective communication), I inform clients that the best way to achieve ADA Compliance is to conform with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) put forth by the W3c.  The W3C is an international community who creates technical standards to make the web more uniform and run more smoothly.

There are two versions of WCAG (a third, 2.2 AA) is on the way in the Fall of 2020 but you don’t need to worry about that): 2.0 AA and 2.1 AA.

WCAG 2.0 has 38 items to check for.

WCAG 2.1 has 50 items to check for – the 38 from 2.0 + 12 new items found in 2.1.

Think of 2.1 as the new, updated version of the WCAG.  Nothing in the previous version has been undone but 12 new bullet points have been added to the audit checklist.

A WCAG 2.1 AA audit is going to cost slightly more than a 2.0 AA audit because there’s more to check for and test, particularly on mobile devices.

What goes into my audits?

When I audit your website, I thoroughly test and examine your website for any Web Content Accessibility Guidelines failures – for all 50 success criteria found in WCAG 2.1 AA (which includes all of WCAG 2.0 AA).

I use WAVE, AXE-Core, and Google Lighthouse automated tools to both supplement my audits and check my findings.

I use VoiceOver and NVDA screen readers to practically check your website’s performance and/or uncover any problems a screen reader user may have.

I use two specialty performance checker websites as well as my iPhone and iPad to check for mobile/reflow/zoom performance.

I use Chrome, FireFox, Internet Explorer, and Safari to check for robustness across browser types.

And, of course, I’ll browse using only a keyboard to check for the navigability of your website without a mouse.

Additionally, I scrutinize your website for the accessibility issues that are commonly found in lawsuit complaints.  Accessibility is vital but it is also crucial that lawsuits are prevented before they ever happen so that website owners can dedicate resources to accessibility and not plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Audit Report Deliverable

The final result is a PDF report that specifies the accessibility issues on your website with guidance on how to address them.

The report is easy to understand and is designed to help your web development team with the remediation.

Second Step: Remediation

Most clients that hire me for an audit have their development team handle the fixing of their website internally.

It’s cheaper this way and something I recommend as long as the devs are skilled and take accessibility seriously.

Third Step: Accessibility Policy

After you’ve paid to have your website manually audited by an independent expert and expended your internal resources to fix your website, I highly recommend you create an accessibility policy page that not only states your commitment to accessibility but lists out all the efforts and measures you have taken that exhibit that genuine commitment.

A policy really can make a difference in whether a plaintiffs’ law firm decides to send a demand letter and/or file a lawsuit.

The Cheaper Audit Route

Of course price is a determining factor in who you choose to perform your website accessibility audit but keep in mind that audit quality varies significantly.

In fact, I’ve had some clients hire me as a consultant for ADA Website Compliance only to find out that the audit they paid $1,500 for was simply a compilation of the free reports automated scans will give you.

For example, one client literally received a WAVE and Google Lighthouse summary for each page URL pasted into a PDF.

Again, you can get automated scans of your website for free.

Yes, a WAVE check is useful – and something I use to help supplement my audits – but it’s not an audit.  Think of WAVE as something you can check to get an idea of where your website currently stands with accessibility.

Keep in mind that automated checkers can only catch about 1/3 of accessibility issues.

Something else that is happening is clients are coming to me, asking whether I’ve heard of a digital marketing agency or have a review for their ADA Website Compliance services.

What’s happening is a lot of digital marketing agencies are simply looking at this as another add-on to their sales funnel.  They’ve got SEO, content marketing, social media management, etc.  And now they’re offering ADA Compliance at $2,500 or $3,500 or even six-figures (I just had a client tell me he was quoted six-figures from a digital marketing company after a 30 minute PowerPoint).

The point is to a lot of people offering ADA Website Compliance services (i.e., audits and remediation), it’s not something they’re especially knowledgeable on, it’s just another way to fatten their receipt.

Even if you get a less expensive price, you might end up paying more in the end.

Turnaround Time

I typically quote 2 weeks for most projects.

There was a more complex website recently that I estimated it would take me 4 weeks.

I always try to beat my own timelines and usually do.

I know clients are in a hurry to make their websites accessible so I embrace that and do my best to provide audit delivery as fast as possible.

My turnaround times are already quick.  Most agencies quote 4-6 weeks as a starting point but as I have no bureaucracy and still handle audits personally, I can deliver much faster.

In a nutshell

The price you pay for a WCAG 2.0 AA or 2.1 AA audit will vary based on your website and how difficult and/or long it is to audit.

A handful of items factor into the cost:

  • complexity (e.g., text pages vs. custom scripts)
  • how good or bad of shape you’re in
  • number of pages and length of pages

For most websites, you’re probably looking at the mid 4-figures range.

For simpler websites, low 4-figures.

You can email me at kris@adabook.com for a quote.  I usually respond quickly.

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