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Soft Compliance: Where Web Accessibility Audit Reports Fall Behind

  • Published on: June 7, 2024
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  • Updated on: June 18, 2024
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  • Reading Time: 4 mins
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Authored By:

Tarveen Kaur

Director- Accessibility Services

For education technology developers, creating accessible products is the key to market success. This is where web accessibility audit reports come into the picture. Platforms like the W3C web accessibility audit report generator offer a powerful glimpse into the accessibility shortcomings of edtech products and platforms. By employing web accessibility audit tools, edtech leaders can easily enhance accessibility, interaction, and engagement. While these automated tools present multiple insights for companies, the accessibility implications of these tools in the era of evolving edtech solutions demand an all-encompassing solution in the form of manual testing.

A group of multi-racial corporate professionals discussing with each other the accessibility implications of web accessibility audit tools.


Automated Testing: Choosing Efficiency Over Effectiveness

It is natural for businesses to focus only on automated audits because they solve a majority of their purposes. Often, web pages are large and complex which makes accessibility audits time and cost intensive. Tools can quickly scan large volumes of content and code at low costs, optimizing the market launch of the product. This can also be helpful in the case of regular content updates. Also, they cover a broad spectrum of accessibility compliance standards ensuring that the basic requirements are met. The reality though is that automated tools can result in a superficial and incomplete understanding of a website’s accessibility.

To begin with, only 30% of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines can be tested via automation. Not having manual intervention puts the remaining coverage required to achieve compliance at risk.

Also, automated tools follow a predefined set of rules or web accessibility audit templates in the form of tests for accessibility compliance. This might result in overlooking conscious user accessibility. For instance, an automated tool might check for voice recognition systems for users. Whether those with speech impairments or diverse accents are able to access it efficiently is left to real-time inputs. Another example is visual contrast and text size. While automated tools can identify color contrast ratios and text sizes, they might fail to evaluate the AR overlays in different lighting conditions and from various distances to ensure real-world usability.

The lack of contextual understanding also manifests in the form of false positives where tools flag issues that may not actually impact accessibility. An image is flagged for missing alt text even though it is purely decorative and appropriately marked. This can lead to unresourcefulness as developers attempt to fix problems that aren’t genuine accessibility barriers.

On the contrary, automated tools may approve a website based on surface-level checks, even if it lacks core accessibility features. A website might pass automated checks for ARIA roles and labels but could still be unusable for screen reader users due to poor navigation structure or incorrect or missing ARIA roles.

Two working professionals are checking the accuracy of web accessibility audit tools, where one of them has a laptop and another one is looking at a tablet.

Which begs the question: How thin is the line between accessibility and true user-friendliness? And are the potential time and cost savings truly worth the risk of letting critical accessibility challenges be overlooked in web accessibility audit reports?


Manual Testing: Striking The Right Balance

Accessibility is a very subjective concern and oftentimes shortcomings surface during real-time navigation. Hence, addressing as many user contexts as possible not only fulfills the ethical obligations but also serves the interest of the edtech developer.

Primarily, user impairments fall into four broad buckets: visual, motor, cognitive, and hearing. The WCAG guidelines outline comprehensive recommendations accommodating users in each of these categories.

Color contrast checkers, text-to-speech provisions, simplified user interfaces with interactive elements like buttons and links, keyboard shortcuts, and the use of illustrations and multimedia are just a few of the mandates by the W3C for web accessibility compliance. Manual testers can simulate real-world scenarios and user behaviors for each more effectively than automated scripts, identifying issues that might only appear under certain conditions or interactions.

Manual testing involves real users, including those with disabilities to help identify more nuanced issues.

Evaluators perform continuous testing throughout the development process to catch and address accessibility issues early. This renders a more contextual understanding of functions and leads to authentic developments.

For instance, having users with cognitive disabilities engage with chatbots can prove invaluable in determining the clarity and helpfulness of responses. Additionally,  they can capture complex interactions and identify areas for improvement in virtual reality environments.


Creating All Encompassing Web Accessibility Audit Reports

Edtech developers consider web accessibility audit reports as an added cost. However, the reality is that accessibility strengthens the market positioning of the company and establishes a reputation among its users. Automatic and manual tests are a way to achieve that. Edtech developers can benefit from actively using both instead of dumbing down their credibility to compliance requirements.

While automated tools have limitations, manual testing has its own set of requirements. User tests are labor-intensive. Finding users with diverse disabilities can be challenging and time-consuming for edtech developers. Additionally, expert evaluators are required for appropriate amendments.

MagicEdtech can be instrumental in achieving this by offering a rigorous structure that seamlessly integrates both manual and automated testing processes for making edtech products accessibility compliant. Our AI-driven tool MagicA11y can streamline the auditing process, ensuring that the educational platform meets accessibility standards without compromising on speed or resources. To know more about your accessibility shortcomings, reach out to us today.

Written By:

Tarveen Kaur

Director- Accessibility Services

Tarveen is an assiduous 16-year veteran of the accessibility field. Her advocacy for inclusive education goes beyond her professional role. Tarveen focuses on enhancing accessibility in educational technology by crafting tailored roadmaps and strategies and establishing targeted approaches that align with specific product requirements. Tarveen is clearing the path for a more accessible future by emphasizing accessibility compliance and developing inclusive digital environments.


Web accessibility audit reports are crucial for edtech developers because they ensure that their products are inclusive and usable for all users, including those with disabilities. By prioritizing accessibility, developers not only comply with ethical obligations but also enhance their market positioning and reputation among users.

Automated web accessibility audit tools offer efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and coverage of basic compliance standards. They can quickly scan large volumes of content and code, optimizing the market launch of products and ensuring that fundamental accessibility requirements are met.

Manual testing provides a more contextual understanding of accessibility issues, identifying nuanced problems that automated tools might miss. It involves real users, including those with disabilities, who can simulate real-world scenarios and behaviors, ensuring a more comprehensive evaluation of the product's accessibility.

Accessibility considerations in edtech development include color contrast, text-to-speech provisions, simplified interfaces, keyboard shortcuts, and multimedia usage. These features accommodate users with various impairments, ensuring that educational platforms are accessible to all.

MagicEdtech's platform integrates both manual and automated testing processes, enabling developers to efficiently identify and address accessibility issues. By leveraging its AI-enabled tool MagicA11y, edtech leaders can streamline the auditing process, ensuring that their educational platforms meet accessibility standards without compromising speed or resources.

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