• Public School District
How to Interpret Gray Areas in Website Accessibility Testing
Kara Franco and Will Rickenback

Evaluation tools often categorize scanning results into several severities: Errors, Risks and Warnings. Errors are accessibility issues that are, with high certainty, in violation of WCAG 2.0 or cause a negative impact on end users. Risks or Alerts are items that need human judgement to determine if the issue is indeed an error. Warnings are best practice suggestions to keep your HTML and site elements up to date with the most current web standards. Similar to Warnings, some testing tools, such as WAVE, list out accessibility features, such as ARIA labeling and structural elements, to be reviewed by developers to help them determine if these features are being used correctly. 

Gray Areas in Accessibility Testing

Many of the categories in the evaluation results will require human judgment and likewise, a degree of subjectivity. In order to reach our goal to provide a website that can be enjoyed by everyone, we must include many voices and viewpoints when interpreting these gray areas.


When we create content we need to be sure that the meaning of the content can be understood by everyone. There are many accessibility features that require content creators to think critically about the content they are adding and how the content can be interpreted by their end users. We've listed out a few of the common features that require extra attention when creating content with accessibility in mind: 

  • Alternative text: "Alt text" should be meaningful and compliment the surrounding context. If the image is decorative, the alt text should be empty. Remember: stay away from adding images with text!
  • Link language: Link language needs to be understandable outside of the sentence and provide enough information for a user to know what the link is doing before clicking on it. No 'Click Here'! 
  • Page structure: The content on the page needs to have logical structure. Using headings and limiting the amount of content on the page will help users. 
  • Video with audio descriptions: Some of your videos may have visual content that needs to be described using audio descriptions. The audio descriptions need to explain what is happening in the video visually.

How to combat subjectivity 

Accessibility features, such as alt text, may have your content creators taking a deeper look at what content they add to the site, which is good! They may question themselves the next time they create an image with text or have debate over what the alt text should be for a new landing page banner image. Regardless, as a school, we encourage you to organize yourself and start talking about web accessibility as a team with your webmaster, content creators and your constituents. Below is a list of some small steps you can make to help clear up any subjectivity you may encounter when testing your website: 

  • Gather a group of stakeholders: Invite members from the school and community, including people with disabilities, to view and test your site pages; their feedback will be invaluable. 
  • Set protocols: Create an accessibility procedure with the individuals that use Composer. This may include training a group of publishers on how to test for accessibility issues, setting content standards (ie. No images of text) or limiting permissions within Composer. 
  • Test with manual assistive technology (AT) testing: Testing with assistive technology, such as a screen reader or keyboard can help your team identify ways you can improve your content (ie. Using better link language or reducing page content). 
  • Educate your accessibility testers about WCAG 2.0 and AT: The more knowledge and familiarity your team has with accessibility standards and assistive technology, the easier it will be for them to create accessible content 
  • Hire an accessibility specialist: Hire or appoint a team member to become an accessibility specialist. Having one person on staff can help teach your content creators how to consider all users when creating content and handle the subjectivity of some accessibility features

Determining the relevance of accessibility issues that need human judgement can be complicated as these items may be related to content or structure of the site. It can take experience to be able to quickly and accurately determine the relevance of these items, especially due to the volume of the accessibility issues found within most site content. Because this task can be overwhelming, we recommend using the AudioEye Ally Toolbar to assist with accessibility remediation.  When the Ally Toolbar is in place on your site, AudioEye's certified experts will analyze and make determinations for both Error and Risk items and will apply remediations as needed. Please contact your Client Success Manager for pricing and more information on adding the AudioEye Ally Toolbar.

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Kara Franco

As Finalsite's Product Education & Accessibility Specialist, Kara works to create educational content and training for schools and districts. She serves in areas of accessibility, product education and training. Kara is a member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) and is working towards her Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) credentail. She is also an avid gardener, bird watcher and loves jazz and cats! 



Will Rickenback

Will, Finalsite's Delivery Quality Assurance and Accessibility Manager, spends his days guiding a team of quality assurance professionals to ensure that the websites that we create meet Finalsite's quality and accessibility standards. He also guides Finalsite's cross-functional accessibility committee, helping to coordinate accessibility initiatives across Finalsite's diverse teams. Along with chasing around two crazy preschool daughters, Will is working towards his Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) credential.

  • Web Accessibility
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