Boost Your Apps Reach: Top Accessibility Checklist for Devs

Accessibility compliance checklist

Accessibility Compliance Overview

In an ever-evolving digital world, making your software accessible to all isn't just ethical—it's imperative for reaching wider audiences and ensuring compliance with legal standards. This accessibility compliance checklist will serve as your roadmap to creating more inclusive software, enhancing user experience, and meeting the necessary accessibility standards.

Understanding Accessibility in Software Development

What is Accessibility?

In the realm of software development, accessibility refers to the design and creation of applications, websites, and technologies that are usable by people with a wide range of abilities, including those who have disabilities. This concept is vital, not only for inclusivity, ensuring that no individual is excluded from using a product due to their physical or cognitive abilities, but also for legal compliance with established standards and laws.

The importance of accessibility cannot be overstated, as it allows individuals with disabilities to have equal access to information and functionalities. By incorporating accessibility principles into software development, businesses can reach a wider audience, enhance user satisfaction, and potentially see a positive impact on their bottom line. Moreover, compliance with accessibility standards can help protect against legal ramifications and promote a positive brand image.

An overview of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is essential for developers. WCAG provides detailed explanations of how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines cover a wide range of recommendations for making web content more accessible and are considered the gold standard in the industry. By adhering to these guidelines, developers can ensure that their products are accessible to all users, regardless of their abilities.

Legal Framework for Accessibility

The legal landscape surrounding accessibility in software development is anchored by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places open to the general public. For software developers, this means creating digital content and applications that are accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities.

Another critical piece of legislation in the United States is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. This law requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. While Section 508 is specifically geared towards federal agencies, the standards set forth have been widely adopted in the private sector as a benchmark for accessibility.

Globally, there are various accessibility standards and laws that software developers should be aware of. Each country may have its own set of regulations that dictate the requirements for digital accessibility. For instance, the European Union has the European Accessibility Act, while Canada has the Accessible Canada Act. It's important for developers to be familiar with the laws specific to their region or the regions where their users reside.

Understanding and adhering to these legal frameworks is not just about avoiding legal consequences; it's about creating an inclusive environment where all users can have equal access to digital products. By following the guidelines and checklists provided by resources such as The A11Y Project's checklist, the HHS's accessibility checklists, and Manifestly's Accessibility Compliance Checklist, developers can significantly enhance the accessibility of their software products.

Essential Components of an Accessibility Compliance Checklist

Creating accessible applications is not only a socially responsible practice but also a legal necessity in many cases. To ensure your app complies with the necessary accessibility standards and reaches a broader audience, here are the essential components that should be included in your Accessibility Compliance Checklist.

Visual Accessibility

Ensuring your app is accessible to users with visual impairments involves a few critical measures:

  • Ensuring sufficient contrast ratios for text and backgrounds: Text should stand out against its background, making it easy to read. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) suggest a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text.
  • Providing alt text for images and visual media: This allows screen readers to describe images to users who cannot see them. It's not just a best practice but a necessity for compliance. Best practices suggest a descriptive alt text that conveys the same information or function as the image itself.
  • Implementing a scalable and responsive design: Users should be able to enlarge text up to 200% without loss of content or functionality. A responsive design ensures that your app works well on a range of devices and screen sizes.

Auditory Accessibility

Auditory accessibility is about providing equal access to users with hearing impairments:

  • Adding captions and transcripts for audio and video content: This ensures that users who are deaf or hard of hearing can access the information in multimedia. The Section 508 Refresh has made captions and transcripts mandatory for federal content.
  • Offering alternatives for sound-based interactions: Any functionality that relies on sound should have a visual or tactile alternative to ensure it's accessible to all users.

Motor Accessibility

Users with motor disabilities often use keyboards or assistive technologies to navigate apps:

  • Designing for keyboard-only navigation: All app functionality should be operable through keyboard shortcuts to accommodate users who cannot use a mouse. Guidelines for keyboard accessibility are detailed in resources like ADA's Web Guidance.
  • Creating accessible forms and controls: Interactive elements should be easy to target and activate. This includes large clickable areas, clear focus indicators, and simple form validation processes. Checklists like the one on can be instrumental in ensuring your forms meet accessibility standards.

Cognitive Accessibility

Lastly, to accommodate users with cognitive disabilities, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Ensuring clear and simple language: Content should be easy to understand, which means avoiding jargon and complex sentences. Tools like the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker can help identify potential language complexities.
  • Providing consistent navigation and predictable layouts: Consistency across pages and predictable patterns in layout help users with cognitive disabilities navigate and understand your app. The University of California Office of the President provides standards and best practices that can guide the design of navigational consistency.

By methodically integrating these essential components into your development process, you not only enhance the user experience for everyone but also comply with the legal standards set forth by laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508. Remember to consult with an accessibility expert and use a comprehensive checklist, such as the Accessibility Compliance Checklist provided by Manifestly Checklists, to ensure your app meets all the necessary criteria.

Implementing Your Accessibility Compliance Checklist

Integration into Development Lifecycle

To ensure that your applications are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, it's crucial to integrate accessibility considerations into every phase of the development lifecycle. From the outset, incorporating accessibility from the planning phase sets the foundation for compliance. This includes establishing clear guidelines, setting measurable goals, and understanding the legal requirements. Resources such as the A11Y Project's checklist or the Best Practices for Accessibility Compliance can serve as starting points for developers to understand and implement accessibility standards.

As development progresses, conducting regular accessibility audits is vital. These audits can identify issues early on, making them easier to address. Automated tools can assist with these audits, but it is also important to complement them with manual testing to ensure a comprehensive evaluation. The Section 508 Program Roadmap provides guidance on integrating accessibility throughout the project lifecycle.

Additionally, the inclusion of users with disabilities in user testing is invaluable. Their direct feedback can uncover nuanced usability challenges that automated tests might miss. Engaging with these users can be facilitated by following best practices as outlined by resources like the Best Practice Guidelines for Planning an Accessible Event. By doing so, developers can ensure their app is not only compliant but also truly user-friendly for individuals with disabilities.

Tools and Resources for Accessibility

A wide array of automated accessibility testing tools are available to assist developers in ensuring their applications meet compliance standards. These tools can scan your app for common accessibility issues, such as missing alt text for images, improper ARIA attributes, and inadequate color contrast. While no automated tool can catch every issue, they provide a strong foundation for accessibility testing. For a comprehensive list, check the ADA Web Guidance and the Accessibility Compliance Checklist provided by Manifestly.

However, manual accessibility testing and best practices are equally important. Manual testing involves a more nuanced approach, such as navigating the app using a screen reader or keyboard-only controls to ensure all functionality is accessible without a mouse. Resources like the HHS's Section 508 Accessibility Checklists and the Microsoft's guide to making PowerPoint presentations accessible can provide guidance on manual testing procedures and best practices to follow.

For those seeking specialized expertise, accessibility consulting services can offer personalized assistance and in-depth evaluations. These services can help tailor your accessibility strategy to the specific needs of your application and user base. Consulting services can also aid in training your development team on accessibility best practices and ensuring compliance with all relevant guidelines, such as those found in the UCOP's Electronic Accessibility Standards and Best Practices.

In conclusion, implementing an accessibility compliance checklist is a multi-faceted process. By integrating accessibility into every stage of the development lifecycle, utilizing a combination of automated and manual testing tools, and potentially engaging with accessibility consulting services, developers can create applications that are not only compliant but also inclusive to a wider audience. Remember, accessibility is not a one-time task but an ongoing commitment to inclusivity in the digital world.

Maintaining and Updating Accessibility Measures

Once your app or website is compliant with current accessibility standards, the journey doesn't end there. Maintaining and updating accessibility measures is crucial for ensuring that all users continue to have equal access to your digital content as technology and standards evolve. This ongoing process involves consistent monitoring, regular updates, training, and fostering an inclusive culture within your organization. By following the Accessibility Compliance Checklist, you can keep your digital products accessible and inclusive for all users.

Ongoing Compliance and Monitoring

To ensure your app remains accessible over time, it's essential to establish procedures for continuous accessibility monitoring. This involves periodically reviewing your app against accessibility checklists, such as the one provided by the A11Y Project, to identify any areas that require attention. Additionally, staying informed about updates to accessibility guidelines, such as those found on or the Section 508 Program Roadmap, is critical for keeping your compliance up-to-date.

It's also important to consider the evolving needs of your users. Regular user testing, including feedback from individuals with disabilities, can provide valuable insights into how well your app meets their needs in practice. Updates to your app should not only address any compliance gaps but also enhance the user experience for everyone. Best practices for accessibility compliance, as detailed on the Whole Building Design Guide, can guide these efforts.

Training and Awareness

Training is another key component of maintaining accessibility. Your development team should receive regular training on the latest accessibility standards and techniques. Resources like the Microsoft Office accessibility guide can help educate your team on creating accessible documents and presentations, which is a part of broader accessibility awareness.

Building a culture of inclusivity within your organization goes beyond formal training. It involves embedding accessibility into your corporate ethos and making it a part of everyday conversations. Encouraging employees to utilize resources like the Best Practice Guidelines for Planning an Accessible Event can help ensure that inclusivity is considered in all aspects of your business operations. Furthermore, the University of California's electronic accessibility standards and best practices offer valuable insights on creating an inclusive environment.

Ultimately, maintaining and updating accessibility measures is an ongoing commitment that requires attention and dedication. By following a structured checklist, such as the Accessibility Compliance Checklist, and staying abreast of resources such as the accessibility checklists and the Office Document File 508 Checklist, developers can ensure their apps are accessible to all users, today and into the future.


Empowering Inclusivity Through Compliance

Throughout this article, we have underscored the critical importance of integrating accessibility into the backbone of software development. By now, it is evident that accessibility is not merely a box to tick off but a gateway to a multitude of benefits that extend beyond compliance. An accessible app not only ensures legal adherence but also opens your digital doors to a wider audience, including individuals with disabilities, thereby enhancing user experience and increasing market reach.

With the provided Accessibility Project Checklist, developers have a structured and comprehensive guide to navigate the intricate terrain of accessibility requirements. This checklist, alongside additional resources such as the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit, WBDG's Best Practices for Accessibility Compliance, and HHS's Section 508 Accessibility Checklists, serve as invaluable assets for developers aiming to create inclusive and universally accessible applications.

It is essential to recognize that accessibility is an ongoing journey rather than a destination. By adopting the Accessibility Compliance Checklist from Manifestly, developers can continuously evaluate and enhance their applications, aligning with evolving standards such as those outlined by the ADA, Section 508, and other frameworks like the University of California's Electronic Accessibility Standards and Best Practices.

Let us not forget the ethical imperative that drives accessibility. Inclusion is a right, not a privilege. By ensuring that our digital products are accessible, we are upholding the values of equity and respect for all users. The use of checklists and following best practices, such as creating accessible documents with the help of HHS's General Office Document File 508 Checklist or making presentations inclusive as suggested by Microsoft's Guide, are foundational to this commitment.

Moreover, planning accessible events with guidelines like those from University of Kansas further extends the principle of inclusivity beyond the digital space, creating an empathetic and accommodating environment in every sphere where people interact with our products and services.

We encourage you to adopt the Accessibility Compliance Checklist as a foundational step towards expanding your application's reach and establishing your practice as not only market-savvy but also ethically sound. In doing so, you will not only contribute to a more inclusive digital world but also position your application as a leader in a future where accessibility is the norm, not the exception.

In conclusion, embracing accessibility is a strategic and moral choice that benefits everyone. By making your apps accessible, you are not only complying with legal requirements but also investing in a future where technology is truly for all. Use the resources and checklists provided to ensure that your applications are accessible, and join the movement towards a more inclusive digital landscape.

Free Accessibility Compliance Checklist Template

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Accessibility in software development refers to designing and creating applications, websites, and technologies that are usable by people with a wide range of abilities, including those with disabilities. It's important for inclusivity, legal compliance, and reaching a wider audience.
Compliance with accessibility standards is important to prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities, to ensure inclusivity, and to avoid legal ramifications. Adhering to standards such as WCAG also enhances user experience and can positively impact a business's bottom line.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of recommendations for making web content more accessible to people with disabilities. They provide detailed explanations on how to ensure that all users have equal access to information and functionalities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. For software developers, this means creating digital content and applications that are accessible to a diverse range of users.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. Its standards have been widely adopted in the private sector as a benchmark for accessibility.
Essential components include visual accessibility measures like sufficient contrast ratios and alt text for images, auditory accessibility such as captions for videos, motor accessibility with keyboard navigation support, and cognitive accessibility with clear language and consistent navigation.
Developers can integrate accessibility by incorporating it from the planning phase, conducting regular accessibility audits during development, and engaging users with disabilities in user testing to ensure the app is usable by a wide range of people.
There are automated accessibility testing tools that scan apps for common issues, manual testing resources for a more nuanced approach, and accessibility consulting services for specialized expertise and in-depth evaluations.
Maintaining and updating accessibility measures is crucial to ensure continuous compliance with evolving standards, to meet the changing needs of users, and to keep digital content accessible for all as technology progresses.
An organization can foster a culture of inclusivity by implementing accessibility training for the development team, building awareness about inclusive practices, and embedding accessibility into the corporate ethos.

How Manifestly Can Help

Manifestly Checklists logo
  • Streamline Compliance: Manifestly Checklists provide a structured and comprehensive guide, such as the Accessibility Compliance Checklist, to help ensure all aspects of software accessibility are addressed.
  • Automate Repetitive Processes: Use Workflow Automations to automatically assign tasks, send reminders, and set due dates, ensuring consistent adherence to accessibility standards.
  • Customizable Workflow: Incorporate Conditional Logic into checklists to create dynamic paths that adapt to various accessibility scenarios.
  • Improved Task Management: Assign tasks based on team roles using Role-Based Assignments, ensuring the right people take action on accessibility requirements.
  • Enhanced Documentation: Embed links, videos, and images within checklists using Embed Links, Videos, and Images to provide rich, detailed instructions for each accessibility standard.
  • Track Progress: Gain a Bird's-eye View of Tasks and utilize Customizable Dashboards to monitor the status of accessibility efforts across your organization.
  • Ensure Timeliness: Set up Relative Due Dates for tasks to ensure that accessibility standards are met within a specific timeframe.
  • Facilitate Communication: Use Comments & Mentions to collaborate on tasks and encourage team discussion around accessibility issues and improvements.
  • Integration with Tools: Connect Manifestly Checklists with other applications like Slack and Microsoft Teams for seamless communication and updates on accessibility tasks.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Leverage Reporting & Data Exports to analyze the effectiveness of accessibility measures and identify areas for improvement.

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