Boost Your Apps Appeal: Top Accessibility Checklist for Devs

Accessibility standards compliance checklist

Accessibility Standards Compliance Overview

In an era where digital inclusiveness is paramount, ensuring your applications are accessible to all users is not just ethical, it's essential for business growth. Integrating accessibility standards into your software development process is key to expanding your user base and complying with legal requirements. This checklist will guide you through the best practices for accessibility compliance.

Understanding Accessibility Standards

What are Accessibility Standards?

Accessibility standards are essential guidelines designed to ensure that digital content and technologies are usable by as many people as possible, including those with disabilities. At the core of these standards is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). WCAG has become the de facto standard for web accessibility and provides a comprehensive set of recommendations for making web content more accessible to individuals with a range of disabilities.

The importance of WCAG cannot be overstated. It outlines how to make web content more accessible to people with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities. By adhering to WCAG, developers and content creators can ensure their applications and websites are perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for all users. Learn more about the best practices for web accessibility according to WCAG.

Alongside WCAG, Section 508 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are critical components of accessibility compliance in the United States. Section 508 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. More details on managing Section 508 compliance can be found in the Section 508 Program Roadmap.

The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. The ADA's reach into digital content has been interpreted to include websites and mobile applications, meaning that ADA compliance is now a major consideration for digital developers. Familiarize yourself with the ADA's web guidance at the Department of Justice's ADA Resources and understand the Access Board's guidelines for ADA compliance.

The Benefits of Meeting Accessibility Standards

Meeting accessibility standards is not just a legal requirement; it also offers numerous benefits. By embracing these standards, developers can significantly broaden their user base by including people with disabilities, who represent a substantial portion of potential users. In fact, ensuring that apps and websites are accessible opens up the digital world to over a billion people worldwide with disabilities.

Furthermore, accessibility is closely tied to improved SEO and website usability. Search engines favor websites that provide a better user experience, and accessible websites often offer cleaner navigation and structure, which search engines can process more effectively. Thus, by following accessibility guidelines, developers can enhance their site’s visibility and reach. For an in-depth checklist on accessibility compliance, visit the Accessibility Standards Compliance Checklist.

Lastly, reducing legal risks by complying with accessibility regulations is a significant benefit. With the increasing number of lawsuits related to digital accessibility, adhering to established standards can protect organizations from costly litigation and reinforce their commitment to inclusivity. Developers can understand these risks better by referencing resources such as the ADA Compliance Glossary by Siteimprove and the ADA Best Practices Toolkit for State and Local Governments at

In conclusion, understanding and implementing accessibility standards is not only a moral and legal imperative but also a strategic advantage for developers looking to make their apps more appealing and accessible to a wider audience. By following these guidelines and utilizing resources like Microsoft's accessibility support and the Whole Building Design Guide's best practices, developers can ensure their apps are compliant, inclusive, and ready for success.

Accessibility Checklist for Software Development

Ensuring that software is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, is not just a matter of legal compliance—it's a moral imperative and a best practice that can significantly enhance the appeal and usability of your application. By following this accessibility checklist, developers can make sure that their software meets the necessary standards and provides a positive experience for every user. Let's explore the key areas you should focus on during the development process.

Visual Design and Content

Visual elements of your software have a profound impact on user experience, particularly for those with visual impairments. To meet accessibility standards such as those outlined by Section 508 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), consider the following:

  • Ensure text contrast meets the minimum contrast ratio: Text must be easily readable against its background. Resources like the A11Y Project checklist provide guidance on the required contrast ratios for text and images of text.
  • Use large and legible font sizes: Fonts should be resizable without losing content or functionality, enabling users with visual impairments to read content easily. For best practices on accessible design, refer to WBDG's accessibility guidelines.
  • Include alternative text for images and multimedia: This allows screen readers to describe images to users with visual impairments. Microsoft offers guidance on creating accessible content which can be applied to other software development contexts.

User Interface and Interactive Elements

The way users interact with your software is crucial for accessibility. Interactive elements must be designed with all potential users in mind. To ensure compliance with standards like ADA and UCOP's best practices, focus on the following:

  • Design for keyboard-only navigation: Ensure that all interactive elements are navigable using a keyboard alone, as some users cannot use a mouse or touch screen. This is a critical aspect of ADA compliance, detailed further in Siteimprove's ADA Compliance glossary.
  • Provide sufficient time for users to read and use content: Time-sensitive content must be adjustable, allowing users with cognitive disabilities or those who use screen readers sufficient time to process the information.
  • Create forms that are accessible and provide error messages: Forms should be clearly labeled, and error messages must be helpful and accessible. The ADA Toolkit offers valuable resources for creating accessible forms.

By integrating these practices into your development workflow, you enhance your software's accessibility and usability, ensuring a wider audience can benefit from your application. For a comprehensive guide to creating accessible software, explore the Accessibility Standards Compliance Checklist on Manifestly. This checklist provides a structured approach to verifying that your software aligns with the latest accessibility standards, helping you to build a product that truly stands out in today’s inclusive digital landscape.

Testing for Accessibility

Ensuring that your app is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, isn't just a matter of legal compliance—it's also a testament to your company's commitment to inclusivity and a way to significantly boost your app's appeal. To meet accessibility standards, testing for accessibility is a critical step in the development process. This section will delve into the best practices for testing your apps for accessibility, using both automated tools and manual testing methods. By following this Accessibility Standards Compliance Checklist, developers can ensure they are on the right path to creating apps that are accessible to everyone.

Automated Accessibility Testing Tools

Automated accessibility testing tools are an essential part of the development toolkit. Tools such as Axe, WAVE, and Lighthouse can quickly scan your app for common accessibility issues. These tools are designed to identify technical problems that could hinder accessibility, such as missing alt text for images, improper use of ARIA roles, or insufficient color contrast.

While automated testing is a powerful ally in identifying glaring accessibility issues, it’s important to understand its role in the broader context of compliance. According to resources like Section 508 and UCOP's Electronic Accessibility Standards and Best Practices, automated testing should be an initial step in a multi-faceted approach. It helps to catch and rectify a substantial number of issues, but it can't replace the nuanced perspective of manual evaluation and real user feedback.

Manual Testing and User Feedback

Conducting manual accessibility audits is the next critical step in the testing process. Manual testing involves a detailed review of your app's interface and functionality. It goes beyond the surface-level checks of automated tools. Best practices for manual testing can be found in resources such as the Whole Building Design Guide and the A11Y Project's checklist. This process should cover navigation, keyboard accessibility, screen reader compatibility, and user experience for those with various disabilities.

Gathering feedback from users with disabilities is equally crucial. Their insights can reveal how the app performs in real-world scenarios, which might not be fully captured by automated or manual testing alone. Engaging with communities of users and inviting them to participate in usability studies can be invaluable. Furthermore, resources like the ADA's Planning and Compliance Toolkit for Small Entities offer guidance on creating an environment that welcomes user feedback and promotes continuous improvement in accessibility.

To truly ensure your app meets accessibility standards, a combination of automated tools, manual reviews, and real user feedback is essential. This comprehensive approach to testing not only aligns with the guidance provided by ADA Web Guidance but also paves the way for a more inclusive digital world. By incorporating these strategies into your development process and regularly consulting resources like The United States Access Board, developers can confidently build apps that are both compliant and appealing to a wider audience.

Integrating Accessibility into Your Development Workflow

Embedding Accessibility into Design & Development

Creating applications that are inclusive and accessible to all users is not just a moral imperative but also a legal requirement and a business advantage. To ensure compliance with accessibility standards, it's essential to integrate accessibility into every stage of your application's design and development process. This proactive approach not only facilitates adherence to standards such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 508, and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) but also helps in creating a seamless user experience for people with disabilities.

Incorporating accessibility features from the start of your project is more efficient and cost-effective than retrofitting them later. Begin by reviewing guidelines and best practices outlined by resources like the Electronic Accessibility Standards and Best Practices, and the A11Y Project Checklist. These resources offer valuable insights on accessibility features that can be built into your app's design, ensuring that all users have equal access to its functionalities.

Moreover, collaboration between designers, developers, and accessibility experts is crucial for embedding accessibility into development workflows. Designers must be aware of how visual elements affect accessibility, while developers need to understand how to implement these designs in code without compromising accessibility. Accessibility experts can provide the necessary guidance and expertise to bridge the gap between design and development. Tools such as Manifestly Checklists can facilitate this collaboration by providing a centralized platform for maintaining and sharing accessibility checklists and best practices throughout the development cycle.

Continuous Compliance and Maintenance

Accessibility is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment. Regularly updating content and features is vital to maintaining accessibility as technologies and standards evolve. This requires a strategy for continuous compliance and maintenance, which includes regular reviews and updates to ensure that new content or features are accessible. A proactive approach to compliance can prevent the legal consequences of non-compliance and the costs associated with retrofitting accessibility after the fact.

Continuous monitoring and updates are crucial for ensuring ongoing compliance. Utilize tools like Siteimprove's ADA Compliance Glossary to stay informed on the latest ADA standards, and reference the Access Board's ADA guidelines for updates on legal requirements. Additionally, developers can integrate automated accessibility testing tools into their continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines to catch accessibility issues early and often.

By establishing regular audits using checklists such as the Accessibility Standards Compliance Checklist, your team can systematically address any non-compliance issues. Training and resources available on platforms like and's Planning & Technical Assistance Toolkit can further educate your team on maintaining accessibility compliance.

In conclusion, integrating accessibility into your development workflow is not only a strategic choice for expanding your app's appeal but also a necessary step towards inclusivity and legal compliance. By embedding accessibility into design and development and committing to continuous compliance and maintenance, developers can ensure that their apps are usable by the widest possible audience, ultimately enhancing user satisfaction and loyalty.


Commitment to Accessibility

As we've explored throughout this article, the importance of accessibility in software development cannot be overstated. It is a cornerstone in creating inclusive applications that empower all users, regardless of their abilities or circumstances. Adopting an accessibility-first mindset is not just about adherence to standards and avoiding legal repercussions — it's about acknowledging the diversity of your user base and striving to provide an equitable experience for everyone.

Developers, teams, and organizations must recognize that accessibility is an ongoing commitment. It is not a one-time task to be checked off but a continuous journey towards improvement and inclusivity. By utilizing resources such as the Section 508 Compliance Roadmap, the Electronic Accessibility Standards and Best Practices, and the ADA's Web Guidance, developers can remain informed and proactive in their efforts.

Moreover, embracing best practices for accessibility compliance, as outlined by the Whole Building Design Guide, and regularly consulting comprehensive checklists like the one from the A11Y Project, can ensure that your applications meet the necessary criteria. Resources such as the ADA's Planning and Compliance Toolkit and the glossary of terms provided by SiteImprove are invaluable for developers seeking to deepen their understanding of accessibility standards.

Developers should also familiarize themselves with guidelines provided by the Access Board and ensure that their content is accessible by following the advice from platforms like Microsoft, which offers guidance on creating accessible PowerPoint presentations.

At Manifestly, we understand the critical role accessibility plays in the success of any application. That's why we've curated an Accessibility Standards Compliance Checklist to assist developers in ensuring their apps not only comply with legal requirements but also deliver a superior user experience to all users. This checklist is a practical tool to guide you through the necessary steps to achieve and maintain compliance with accessibility standards.

In conclusion, a proactive approach to accessibility should be at the heart of software development. By committing to making your apps more accessible, you not only broaden your apps' appeal and usability, but you also contribute to a more inclusive digital world. Start by incorporating accessibility into your workflow today, and make it an integral part of your development process. With the right resources, tools, and mindset, you can create apps that truly resonate with and are accessible to everyone.

Free Accessibility Standards Compliance Checklist Template

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

WCAG are guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that provide recommendations for making web content more accessible to individuals with disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities.
Accessibility standards are important because they ensure that applications are usable by as many people as possible, including those with disabilities. This broadens the user base, improves SEO and website usability for all users, and reduces legal risks by complying with regulations like Section 508 and the ADA.
Section 508 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, requiring federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including digital content like websites and mobile applications.
Developers can ensure text is accessible by making sure the text contrast meets the minimum contrast ratio and using large, legible font sizes that are resizable without losing content or functionality.
When designing accessible software, developers should focus on keyboard-only navigation, providing sufficient time for users to read and use content, and creating forms that are accessible and provide clear error messages.
Automated testing tools like Axe, WAVE, and Lighthouse can quickly identify common technical accessibility issues in apps. While helpful, they are just an initial step and should be complemented with manual testing and user feedback for comprehensive accessibility compliance.
Manual testing provides a detailed review of an app's interface and functionality that automated tools might miss. User feedback, especially from users with disabilities, offers insights into real-world usage and can reveal issues that testing might not capture.
Developers can integrate accessibility by incorporating features from the start of the project, collaborating with designers and experts, and using checklists and resources to guide the development process. Continuous compliance and maintenance are also crucial for ongoing adherence to accessibility standards.
Continuous compliance involves regularly updating content and features to maintain accessibility, and using tools and checklists for ongoing monitoring. It ensures that apps remain compliant with evolving technologies and standards, thereby avoiding legal issues and improving user experience.
Developers can stay proactive about accessibility by utilizing resources like the Section 508 Compliance Roadmap, ADA's Web Guidance, and various accessibility checklists. Regular training, audits, and incorporating feedback are also key to maintaining an accessibility-first approach in app development.

How Manifestly Can Help

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  • Streamline Compliance with Accessibility Standards: Manifestly Checklists provide a structured workflow to ensure your app aligns with the latest accessibility standards, such as WCAG and ADA.
  • Automate Workflow Tasks: Utilize Workflow Automations to assign roles, set due dates, and automate repetitive tasks, ensuring a consistent approach to accessibility.
  • Collaborate Effectively: With Role Based Assignments, team members know their specific responsibilities, improving collaboration and efficiency in your accessibility efforts.
  • Enhance Documentation: Easily embed links, videos, and images within checklists to provide clear guidance and reference materials for accessibility best practices.
  • Set Relevant Deadlines: Use Relative Due Dates to ensure tasks related to accessibility are completed in a timely manner.
  • Track Progress and Accountability: Gain a Bird's-eye View of Tasks to monitor the progress of accessibility-related activities and hold team members accountable.
  • Integrate with Other Tools: Connect your workflows with other systems through API and WebHooks or Zapier Automations to streamline your accessibility processes.
  • Maintain Ongoing Compliance: Schedule recurring checklist runs to ensure continuous monitoring and updating of accessibility features, keeping your app compliant over time.
  • Customize to Your Needs: Create customizable dashboards and use tags to organize accessibility tasks by priority, department, or any other criteria relevant to your project.
  • Facilitate Communication and Feedback: Incorporate comments and mentions within checklists to encourage team discussion and feedback on accessibility matters.

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