Cost of WCAG 2.1 AA Audit for Website Accessibility, ADA Compliance

I get asked for website accessibility price quotes quite often.

In the current legal landscape, everyone wants to get into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – and other similar anti-discrimination laws and regulations such as the Fair Housing Act, California Unruh Act, New York Human Rights Law, etc.

Assuming you want a WCAG 2.1 AA audit (vs. 2.0 AA), your project will fall into one of three categories:

  • easy
  • medium
  • complex

Let’s go over each category and the price you can expect to pay.

With all audits, you can calculate a good estimate based on your individual website.

One nuance to keep in mind when it comes to volume is it’s not just the number of pages that affect cost but the length of pages and the elements on them.

Easy Audits – $750 – $2,500

The lighter the workload, the less accessibility issues, the less you’re going to pay.

Easy websites have the following characteristics:

  • Static (i.e., no changing or dynamic content)
  • Simple pages (e.g., an image with mostly text)
  • Minor accessibility issues
  • Low issues
  • Low number of unique page layouts

Websites that have these characteristics are typically your “web presence” type pages that exist to provide information about services, contact info, and relevant links.

As an example here, think of a simple WordPress set up for a freelance consultant.

Average price range: $750 – $2,500

Medium Audits – $2,500 – $6,500

Most WCAG 2.1 AA audit quotes fall somewhere in the low to mid 4-figures.

Common characteristics:

  • Dynamic components
  • More complex pages (e.g. checkout page, account registration page)
  • Heavier accessibility issues
  • A fair amount of issues
  • 5-10 unique page layouts

Shopify e-commerce websites usually fall into the medium audit range.

Most estimates I provide fall into the medium range.

Complex Audits – $6,500 – $12,500

A heavier workload consists of a higher volume of work along with increased complexity.

In terms of complexity, think of spotting accessibility issues for missing alt attributes on images vs. checking for the litany of issues that forms/input areas can have (e.g. proper labels, aria vs. HTML labels, focus, focus order, autocomplete, error identification, etc.).

Common characteristics:

  • Many dynamic website
  • High number of complex pages
  • serious accessibility issues
  • High volume of accessibility issues
  • 5-30 unique page layouts

I’ve had all types of niches fall into this category: real estate (with IDX integration), local government, medical, retail, auto parts, etc.

Again, what will push the price into the higher tier is an increase in the number of pages to be audited along with the number of issues and and the complexity of page components to be audited.

What Goes Into Our Web Accessibility Audits?

When Accessible.org audits your website or app, it’s either audited personally by me (Kris Rivenburgh) or an accessibility specialist who actually works with the W3C on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).  Either way, your website or app will be thoroughly tested and examined 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, Accessibility Insights, 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 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.

From Inquiry to Delivery

Here are the steps from client inquiry to report delivery.  Note that I now default to a WCAG 2.1 AA audit unless a client specifically requests only a WCAG 2.0 AA audit.

  1. Ask client for unique page layouts

Unique page layouts are the primary types of pages on your website.  We do not want to audit every single page on a website because that would be redundant.  Rather, it’s better to audit each unique page layout and apply those findings to other pages that are exactly the same or very similar.

If you would like our recommendation on which pages to audit, we can certainly provide that.

  1. Create a statement of work (SOW)

A SOW includes all unique URLs to be audited, cost, and audit timeline.  All the details for an audit are contained within so both the client and I know exactly what to expect.

  1. Payment is made

Once the SOW is approved, the client remits payment.

  1. Work begins

I immediately begin auditing your website.  See my audit process below.

  1. Audit is delivered to client

I email the audit PDF report to the client prior to or on deadline.  I always strive to beat my own time estimate so I’ll often complete audits before my quoted delivery date.

Manual Checks and Testing

The Accessible.org audit process is thorough, meticulous, and repetitive.  We manually examine and test your website or app to make sure it not only technically meets WCAG success criteria but practically works well.

Here are some of the actions taken:

  • Identify your website flow and look for potential barriers, obstacles, and blocks that may prevent a user from accessing content or completing actions (e.g., successfully purchasing an item)
  • Tab backwards and forwards on your menus, media, content and pop-ups
  • Read your alt attributes, check your alt text values
  • Read headings, labels, page titles, etc. to make sure they are unique and descriptive
  • Check labels on form fields and other inputs such as checkboxes
  • Test forms to see if errors are identified and descriptive instructions are provided for

Here is another section of manual testing:

  • Click on links and buttons
  • Activate and engage with functional components
  • Use a screen reader to navigate through and take actions on your website
  • Enter input and tab through fields to test to make sure nothing changes or automatically submits
  • Look for images with text and/or color contrast issues
  • Check for color contrast issues with text and images that convey information
  • Inspect heading levels to make sure the appropriate heading tags are used
  • Scan for instances of ambiguous, unhelpful anchor links
  • Look through the programmatic order of your page content (as it shows to screen reader users)

And here are some more ways we examine your website or application:

  • Check for the presence of a focus indicator and check to make sure it remains on interactive elements as a user navigates through the page
  • Watch videos and check for accurate closed captioning
  • Test the reflow of your website’s content and the ability to resize and zoom text and content
  • Test that the orientation of your website is not locked on portrait or landscape
  • Seek out any blinking, flashing, or moving content
  • Ensure a skip navigation link exists
  • Check to make sure nothing is disorienting or causes confusion or noteworthy inconvenience to users
  • Look through your website code when checking for various accessibility issues
  • Any status messages are announced to screen readers

These bullet points are by no means an exhaustive list but I provide them to show how meticulous Accessible.org web accessibility audits are.

Audit Creation

Here is the order in which I check your website and create the audit.

  1. Examine sitewide header

The header is the top of your website and typically remains the same across all pages.  The header usually includes logo, search function, navigation menu, contact information, and potentially a banner or banner advertising.

  1. Examine sitewide footer

The footer is the bottom of your website and usually includes navigation links, search function, social (icon) links, contact information, and legal links (disclaimers, conditions, etc.).

  1. Examine each URL in SOW

Starting with your homepage, I examine each unique page layout URL listed in the SOW.  Each URL is audited separately so it is easy for you to spot issues and take action.

  1. List each issue chronologically

I write out each accessibility issue I find in the order I find it on the page.  Again, this makes it easy to spot issues.

  1. Add-in screenshots

Where helpful, I include screenshots of code and/or the page itself to make it easy to identify the accessibility issue.

  1. Provide recommendations, suggestions, instructions, and/or examples/example code for remediation

For every accessibility issue, I provide some combination of the above to help you and/or your developer assess and fix the problem.  A big reason my audits are so helpful is that I provide advice and resources I think would be helpful for someone trying to fix their website.

The purpose of an audit is to point out accessibility issues.  I like to take it to the next level and provide info to make it easier to remediate and/or make the fix.

  1. Include a WCAG reference

Sometimes it’s helpful to look at the official WCAG explanation and examples.  For this reason, I cite to the specific WCAG success criterion I am referring to when I flag an issue.

  1. Write Audit Summary

With a summary, I provide you with 1-2 paragraphs summarizing the general state of accessibility for your website and what my key takeaways are.  I’ll also identify some of the major and/or reoccurring accessibility issues in bullet form so that you can quickly glance at the report and extract information.

  1. Write Audit Overview and Notes

Here I quickly help you understand the audit that follows, my formatting, and then provide custom notes as it pertains to your report, if any.

Quick Turnaround Time

As an attorney and someone who advises on best practices in lawsuit prevention, I know how vital it is for you to receive your report back in a timely matter.

When we take on a client, I typically provide a conservative deadline of 2 weeks, sometimes 3 weeks if the anticipated workload is heavy.

I then make every effort to beat that deadline.

It is very realistic that we can deliver your audit within 1 week.

Most accessibility agencies typically give a turnaround time of 4-6 weeks.

We’re expedient in our turnarounds as we know better than anyone time is of the essence.  This adds a lot of value for our clients.

You can expect an excellent, precise, thorough, and detailed report very soon after you remit payment as we get to work right away.

Hire Accessible.org

To contact Accessible.org for a website or app audit, email me at kris@accessible.org.

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