Zero Errors on WAVE Scan Reduces Risk of ADA Website Lawsuits

A great way to reduce your risk – and this is something I recommend in The ADA Book – but a great starting point to reducing your risk of website accessibility litigation is to run a WAVE scan on all of the most important pages on your website.

So whether that’s five or seven, maybe even 10, you can run a WAVE scan for free and you can quickly get several important accessibility issues flagged on each of your URLs.

Now a WAVE- a WAVE scan is not going to take care of everything and WAVE, the people that create WAVE will tell you that.

What WAVE is is an automated scan, it scans for a limited number of accessibility considerations under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

It doesn’t take care of everything- it doesn’t- not all accessibility considerations are able to be flagged by wave but it’s a great start.

And plaintiffs’ lawyers use it extensively.

I see the- I see WAVE referenced whether directly or indirectly- because you can tell when a plaintiff’s law firm is relying upon WAVE to create its- the basis for its claims.

It’s used quite frequently and if you can get your WAVE errors down to zero and then your WAVE alerts down to zero, that is a tremendous start to accessibility.

But you have to know that there are false negatives.

So sometimes WAVE can clear you, not show any issues or errors when there are some.

And WAVE is a scan and automated scans are limited.

And so with that limitation you have to know that there are accessibility issues that could easily still exist on your website which can serve as the basis for litigation.

Moreover, even if you’re able to make changes and eliminate WAVE errors, it doesn’t mean that you’ve necessarily made your website accessible specific to those issues, it just means that you’ve eliminated the errors that are resulting.

And this is because WAVE is an automated scan.

WAVE is simply using if-this-then-that rules to programmatically go through and look through your code and see if there are any outright errors in the code or things that you should be aware of that could possibly be an accessibility issue but aren’t necessarily.

So, for example, sometimes larger text will be flagged as an alert because it could possibly be an instance where you are using visual markup when you really should be using a heading.

And so WAVE is very, very useful. If you can take those results and have a competent developer who is experienced in accessibility remediate those issues and eliminate the WAVE errors and alerts, this is going to reduce your risk of litigation.

It won’t eliminate it by any means, but it’s a great start. And it’s a way that you can get started for free until you work in a developer.

But it’s the way that you can limit your costs and get started for free and you can target some of the most frequently- some of the issues that most frequently come up in claims.

So I always recommend that in my book, The ADA Book, it is one of the first things- it is the first thing that I recommend because WAVE is so popular, it’s very simple to use, it’s very- it’s very easy to understand and that’s- why plaintiffs’ lawyers like using it.

And so why not start there, why not- why not use something, as imperfect as it is, it is something that is an excellent tool.

It’s very efficient, it’s free, you don’t need a license for it, you don’t need to constantly run it, and it’s it’s commonly used also in accessibility audits.

So a scan is never an audit.

An audit is manually performed by accessibility professionals.

And they are looking for all of the accessibility issues regardless if they if they could be caught by automation but frequently what the experts that are auditing what they use is a scan.

It might be WAVE, it might be another scan such as AXE-core, but they’re using these scans to 1) eliminate their errors and 2) give them a head start on what to look for.

And I say head start and I use the word flag because that’s what happens is accessibility issues are flagged.

It does not conclusive of accessibility issues.

It doesn’t mean that it finds all the issues – even within the things that it looks for it doesn’t mean that it finds all of them, but it flags what it can and it doesn’t excellent job of doing so.

And the difference between scans is fairly negligible.

Some scans will- they look for more accessibility issues than others some find partial issues – and when I say partial issues so they might flag some of a of a success criterion under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines but it won’t- it wouldn’t be conclusive of that full success criterion.

So maybe partially, it will alert you have an issue. But to keep it simple, WAVE is very beginner friendly. It’s going to catch most or it’s going to flag most of the issues that can be flagged through automation and it’s going to give you a really good start.

And it’s a way to have to be alerted of accessibility issues for free and you can start there, it contains many of the most important many of the most important accessibility issues can be flagged by WAVE.

And I’m referring to WCAG 2.0 conformance level A issues but it’s a great start.

It’s where I always start and even if you know nothing of accessibility you can get a good idea of where you’re currently at by looking at all of the errors and alerts that show up and then focusing your attention on remediating or fixing those.