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It’s important to effectively plan prior to starting an accessibility assessment. The assessment planning documents will help determine tasks and work needed, how to approach and implement the work practically, what standards you will use, the number or resources required and how to communicate the results.

Determine the overall purpose before structuring the assessment. The purpose influences every other aspect of the assessment. For example, the purpose may be to address accessibility concerns with existing systems proactively or it could be in response to and prepare for an upcoming audit.

Follow these steps to effectively plan for the accessibility assessment:

  • Define Scope - Indicate what will be included and excluded in the assessment.
  • Choose Standard - Identify the accessibility standards to use for the assessment.
  • Identify Resources - Determine the resources needed for assessment.
    • Participants & Skill Sets - Define the project team, identify skill sets and roles.
    • Sample - Determine the sample size and how to obtain the sample.
  • Follow Best Practices
    • Determine Level of effort - Assess the level of effort for the assessment.
    • Define Error Logging - Define information needed to effectively document defects & deficiencies identified during assessment.
    • Communication Plan - Document communication strategy to effectively communicate the results of assessment.
    • Request for Additional Resources - Determine whether additional funds and/or resources are needed for the assessment effort.

    Prioritization | Planning | Assessment | Remediation | Resources

    Define Scope

    Understand Standards and Law

    Identify Resources

    Follow Best Practices

    Level of Effort
    To determine the level of effort for system assessment, consider accessibility testing standard requirements, system complexity and size, testing methodology and knowledge and skill set requirements.

    Additional factors to consider when estimating level of effort:

    • Page counts
      Determine the number of pages within the system. The pages should then be classified as simple, medium, and complex. The use cases can assist in classifying pages. This will determine the number of pages or screens needed to be tested and quantify the scope per system.

    • Software and Tools
      Determine the assistive technologies that will be used during the assessment. The department should use tools that address visual, audio, kinetic, speech, and cognitive impairments. For example: screen readers, speech recognition, captioning, and magnification software.

      Departments may also employ automated accessibility testing tools. Automated tools evaluate compliance with accessibility standards but will not guarantee that the system is usable. It is strongly recommended to evaluate conformance levels manually to ensure that the system has a high-level of usability.

      Assessment software and tools:
      Web Accessibility Evaluation and Validation
      Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List

    Third party accessibility assessment services
    Many vendors provide accessibility assessment services. California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) provides a State Price Schedule (SPS) for Assistive Technologies (AT) to make AT and related services available to California State departments: California SPS-AT Services. Check the market frequently, as several vendors are growing their accessibility services in response to demand from the public.

    Logging Defects and Deficiencies
    To help with the recording and logging of system defects and deficiencies that will need to be addressed, it is important that the error logging effort be defined in advance. Consider what information the technical team will need to know and include that information in the error reporting forms that will be provided to the users performing the assessment.
    The technical staff who will be assisting with the assessment and remediation of the issues should consider what information that they would like to receive from the users performing the assessment and what type of reports that they want to utilize after receiving the information.

    The assessment planning team should plan their input forms based on the desired output deliverables that they will need to create. Consider including surveys and questionnaires that also inquire about the user experience.

    Outputs from the assessment may include:

    • Session Logs
    • Issue Log
    • Usability Questionnaire

    Communication Plan
    Define the communication strategy and timely communicate the accessibility assessment results to all stakeholders, including, but not limited to:

    • Executives
    • Technical staff
    • Accessibility Committee (if available)

    Summarize and format the results so they are meaningful for the intended purpose and intended audience. For example, provide detailed reports for technical staff and a high level executive summary for executives.

    Report the following in the detailed assessment results:

    • Report Date
    • Individuals or group that conducted the assessment- Include contact information
    • Scope and/or sample - List every page evaluated
    • A statement of conformance- Required for WCAG compliance
    • Common or system wide issues
    • Page-by-page issues
    • Use case by use case issues
    • Results from automated testing
    • Recommendations or next steps

    Report the following in the Executive Summary

    • High level overview of findings
    • Common or significant issues
    • Recommendations for next steps & mitigation strategies