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Accessibility audit checklist

This is a checklist of items for an accessibility audit, which users with some technical expertise can use to assess their website against the published WCAG 2.1 standards.

About this checklist

This checklist is part of our accessibility audit process, which is designed for service teams to be able to conduct their own accessibility audits.

Meeting all elements of this checklist does not guarantee full compliance with the WCAG 2.1 standards, but should provide a good level of compliance.

This checklist needs to be run against each page in the identified sample (except for Step 10, which is once per site).

 


1. Technical compliance

Test 

WCAG standards 

Pass if 

Fail if 

Warning if 

Check the page against theW3C validator 

G134 

G192 

H75 

H88 

Page passes validator 

Any failure in validator 

Any 'Warning' in validator 

Page loads consistently in different browsers. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE, Edge 

H75 

Page loads as expected in each browser 

Page fails to load properly in any nominated browser 

 

 

Page loads meaningful content when Javascript is disabled 

F10 

F15 

F19 

Page loads meaningful information 

Page fails to load or information is not meaningful 

 

Page loads meaningful content in text-only browser 

F10 

F15 

F19 

Page loads meaningful information 

Page fails to load or information is not meaningful 

 

Page contains metadata to describe the content uniquely 

F25 

G130 

Page source has valid meta data for title and description 

Page source does not contain either a title or description, or that title or description is generic or inaccurate 

 

Page has properly defined and used header, body and footer sections 

H69 

G134 

G192 

H75  

H88 

Page uses header, body, and footer correctly 

Sections incorrectly used, such as having navigation content in the body 

 

Page does not contain harmful flashing elements 

2.3.1 

Page does not contain flashing elements; OR 

 

Flashing complies with the allowable thresholds 

Page contains flashing elements which are not within threshold 

 


3. Controls

Test

WCAG standards 

Pass if 

Fail if 

Warning if 

The page is still viewable, navigable, and functional at 200% zoom (using browser zoom) 

F69 

G178 

Content and functionality remains usable at 200% zoom 

Text is not readable or is cropped 

Components obscure the content 

Functionality is impacted 

 

The text is visible and not cropped or unreadable if text size is increased 200% (text size changed in developer view) 

F69 

G178 

Content and functionality remains usable when text is resized to 200% 

Text is not readable or is cropped. 

Functionality is impacted. 

 

Text increases in size when the window is zoomed 

G178 

Text increases in size when window is zoomed 

Text does not increase in size when window is zoomed, or does not stay at increased size 

 

When zoomed to 200%, the user still only requires to scroll in one direction 

1.4.10 

When zoomed, only the vertical scroll bar is required to navigate all content 

The content requires the use of both vertical and horizontal scrollbars 

 


4. Visual

Test

WCAG standards 

Pass if 

Fail if 

Warning if 

A suitable sans-serif font is used 

 

Sans serif font used throughout 

Any serif fonts 

Any fonts with known readability issues 

 

The colour contrast of text and foreground elements like icons, over background is at least 4.5:1 (or 3:1 for large examples at least 18pt) 

G145 

G183 

Colour contrast is sufficient 

Colour contrast is insufficient 

 

Colour contrast remains sufficient when item receives focus or other handler 

C40 

Colour contrast is sufficient 

Colour contrast is insufficient 

 

Interactive elements are highlighted when receiving focus both with mouse and keyboard 

G149 

A highlight using more than one method (colour, shape, size) is visible when giving focus both using keyboard and mouse 

Some or all elements do not give focus which uses more than one method, or only give it with one of keyboard or mouse 

 

Hyperlinks are visually clear without colour vision – usually underline is required 

F73 

Hyperlinks can be clearly distinguished from other text except by colour hue (lightness is acceptable) 

Hyperlinks cannot be distinguished except by colour hue 

 

The background and text colours are dyslexia friendly 

1.4.3 

Colour hues are acceptable 

Colour hues are unacceptable 

Colour hues are less desirable (e.g. black on white) 

All text is at least 1em in size 

C14 

All text on the page is at least 1em in size 

Not all essential text is 1em in size 

Some minor elements, not essential to use are less than 1em 

All text is sized using % or em, not in absolute units 

C12 

C13 

C14 

Text is specified using relative sizes 

Text uses absolute sizes 

 

Text is not conveyed within images 

1.4.5 

1.4.9 

No text is contained in images 

Images contain text vital to the user journey 

Some non-essential text is included in images, or text is included which explains elements like a graph 

Information is not conveyed using solely colour. All elements have at least 2 distinctions (shape, size, form) 

F2 

F3 

F13 

F26 

All elements are distinguishable by at least two methods 

Elements on the page rely on a single method of visual distinction 

 

Actions are clear when the site is viewed in greyscale only and inverted greyscale 

 

F2 

F3 

F13 

F26 

All elements are distinguishable when viewed in greyscale 

Viewing in greyscale causes some elements to become non-distinguishable or non-readable 

 


5. Test automation

For this section, we recommend using the ARC Toolkit plugin.

Test

WCAG standards 

Pass if 

Fail if 

Warning if 

Automated test tool identifies no additional failures 

All 

Page passes test 

Page fails test 

Any 'Warning' 


6. Content

Test

WCAG standards 

Pass if 

Fail if 

Warning if 

Reading age is suitable using mixed-model reading age assessment 

G86 

3.1.5 

Pages has predominantly readable text on panel of tests 

Page has predominantly non-readable text on panel of tests 

Inconclusive tests on panel, or indicates moderate difficulty 

Page does not contain words from the exclusion list 

G86 

No excluded words are found 

More than 5 excluded words are found 

5 or fewer excluded words are found 

All content images have descriptive alt text, or relevant expandable description 

H37 

F30 

All images have alt text which fully describes the image content, or signpost a user to where a full description can be found 

Images do not have alt text, or have alt text which does not help the user know the content of the image 

Alt text is present, which partially describes the content, but insufficiently for the needs of a user who cannot see the image 

All purely decorative images are set correctly to be ignored by assistive technology (ARIA label and null alt text) 

F38 

F39 

H67 

Decorative images have ARIA labels instructing them to be ignored, and alt-text is null 

Decorative images do not have ARIA labels, or have full alt text 

 

Images are not used when content would have been more appropriate 

1.4.5 

Text is not included within images (unless readable SVG) or images convey information more suited to text presentation (e.g. table) 

Text is included in images, or  

 

Videos have subtitles or transcript available 

1.2.2 

Any videos have subtitles or transcripts which are manually checked and match the video content 

Videos do not have subtitles or transcripts, or have auto-created subtitles which have major errors 

Videos have auto-created subtitles which have minor errors  

There are no generic links or bare links on the page, and all links are descriptive. 

H78 

F63 

There are no bare links, and all links are descriptive 

Generic links (e.g. click here) are present or bare links are present without justification (e.g. promoting a shortlink like digital.nhs.uk/campaigns) 

Bare links with questionable justification are present 

Any animation, video or scrolling can be slowed or paused 

F16 

Animation or video can be slowed and paused 

The animation or video cannot be paused, or slowed 

Animation or video can be paused but not slowed 

Content must be identifiable by more than one feature (position, colour, location, shape) 

F14 

Content is identifiable by more than one feature 

Content is identifiable by one feature only 

 

Graphical symbols are not the only way to understand the content 

F26 

Graphical symbols do not form part of the content, or any symbols present are appropriately marked up, or additionally explained 

Users must understand a graphical symbol (e.g. an arrow) in order to know what the content means or what to do 

 


7. Tables (if present)

Test

WCAG standards 

Pass if 

Fail if 

Warning if 

All tables contain a header row (and header column if relevant) 

F91 

F90 

H43 

H51 

All tables have a header row. Header columns are in place if relevant. 

Headers not in place 

 

All tables have a relevant related header using the caption mark up 

 

All tables have a related header so that users can easily identify the table contents 

Tables do not have related table header 

 

Table contains no merged cells 

 

Tables have no merged cells 

Tables contain merged cells 

 

Tables use relevant table mark up 

 

Tables use relevant table mark up 

Tables lack relevant mark up or is included as an image 

 


8. Form behaviour (if present)

 

WCAG standards 

Pass if 

Fail if 

Warning if 

All form elements have a relevant ARIA label or explicit semantic HTML labels 

ARIA17 

1.3.5 

 

All form elements have relevant labels 

Form elements lack labels, or labels are not suitably descriptive 

 

Any validation requirements are clearly visible alongside the field 

3.3.2 

Validation requirements are shown next to the field which requires validation 

Field requires validation but does not indicate it, or does not give information about how to comply 

 

Field errors are clearly highlighted, using more than one technique (colour, size, position, form)  

3.3.1 

When an error occurs (validation, mandatory field missed etc.) then the fields with errors are clearly highlighted, using more than one technique 

Form errors are not fully highlighted, or only one technique is used 

 

Field errors are explained in plain english so that the user knows what they need to do 

3.3.1 

3.3.3 

When an error displays, the user is shown an explanation of the error which is clearly understandable and enables them to correct the error 

User is not shown an explanation of a form error, or the explanation is not in plain english, or is not actionable 

 

The submission is at least one of the following: 

Reversible after submission 

Checked for errors 

Shown back to user to review and confirm 

3.3.4 

The form submission process allows for one of the techniques to be used 

The form submission process does not use any of the listed techniques 

 

Form does not timeout without the option to extend 

2.2.1 

When the form is not used for a period of time, it either does not timeout, or a warning appears when timeout is occurring, giving the user the option to extend the time 

The form does not give a warning of timeout, or does not give the user the option to extend 

 

Form elements must scale at 200% zoom 

1.4.10 

1.3.4 

Form elements change in size proportional to zoom level of the page, and continue to flow so that only one scroll direction is required (unless unavoidable) 

Form elements do not scale, or cause  

 

Form elements are all keyboard navigable, and do not display unwanted behaviour on focus change 

F9 

F36 

Users can move between form elements using keyboard commands, in display order, and focus change does not cause any undesirable or unannounced behaviour 

Not all elements are keyboard accessible, the focus order does not match the DOM, or focus change causes undesirable behaviour 

 

Form elements are consistent between instances (e.g. next button always same colour, size and location) 

F31 

G162 

3.2.3 

Different pages use the same elements in a consistent way 

Different pages change conventions 

 


9. Graphs and charts (if present)

Test

WCAG standards 

Pass if 

Fail if 

Warning if 

Every graph or chart has the data available as a table or downloadable table immediate adjacent 

F19 

Every graph or chart has a table or download version adjacent, which can be accessed with keyboard commands 

Graphs or tables do not have download options, or these options cannot be accessed with a keyboard 

 

Charts use sequential hue/lightness colours 

1.4.1 

1.4.11 

Graphs and charts use hue and lightness sequentially in order to convey the information, or the chart has only two or three metrics with clear differentiation 

Graphs and charts use non-sequential colours 

 

Colour vision is not required to understand a chart or graph 

1.4.1 

Chart or graph can be understood when viewed in monochrome 

Chart or graph cannot be understood when viewed in monochrome or modified colour 

 

Chart is explained or visualised in a way that is accessible to non-screen users 

1.3.3 

Chart is explained to users using text description, or other method is used to ensure users can understand the information, such as accessible SVG, or interactive focus elements 

Chart is not explained to non-screen users 

 


10. Accessibility declaration (once per site)

 

WCAG standards 

Pass if 

Fail if 

Warning if 

The site contains an accessibility statement compliant with the duties under the legislation 

N/A 

The site has an accessibility statement which complies, and which directly relates to the site 

The site does not have an accessibility statement; OR 

 

The site links to the generic accessibility statement on digital.nhs.uk or similar; OR 

 

The accessibility statement does not meet the legal requirements; OR 

 

The accessibility statement makes untrue claims about the compliance of the site 

 

Last edited: 7 September 2021 11:08 am