How much does a website accessibility audit cost?

by TJ Kelly Published Nov 8, 2009 · Last updated Jun 25, 2021

How much does a website WCAG accessibility audit cost? Anywhere from $500 to $10,000, depending on how it’s done.

This post discusses the cost and pricing of website ADA accessibility audits, also called a WCAG “conformance evaluation.”

Clearly, this post still is a work in progress. More detail coming, little by little.

What type of website accessibility audit costs $500?

Pretty basic. Much like this blog post right now. Basically just an automated VPAT certificate.

A $500 audit might keep your mid-level bosses happy for a few weeks, but it won’t cut it in the long run.

These audits are designed to catch and document problems with your website. A quick automated scan isn’t good enough.

Need an accessibility audit? Get started here → I need an audit!

 

What type of website accessibility audit costs $10,000?

Extensive and exhaustive. At least I hope so, for all the money you’d pay.

Again, these audits should be exhaustive. They serve an important function in ensuring your website is usable by everyone—or at least mapping the way for you to get there—and they’re hard to do.

Are there website accessibility audits in the middle?

Yes, you can also find them in the $1,000-5,000 range. In fact, that’s probably what you should plan on paying, unless your site is huge or incredibly complex.

Sparkbox, an Ohio-based web design/development shop, starts their audits at $5,000, according to their aptly named Accessibility-Audit.com tool. (Not linking on purpose. I found their tool unhelpful.)

My old team used to charge $2,500, but was considering upping their rates.

Need an accessibility audit? Get started here → I need an audit!

 

What is a WCAG accessibility audit, anyway? What am I paying for?

A web accessibility audit measures your website’s level of accessibility in a systematic way against a specific set of accessibility checkpoints.

The internationally-recognized benchmark for web accessibility is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), prepared by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

An accessibility audit provides a list of action items to improve your website’s accessibility.

The individual components of this definition are:

  • Measure – the audit should, as far as possible, deal in measurable quantities, not in estimates or opinion. The vast majority of accessibility checks are measurable;
  • Level of accessibility – accessibility is not a matter of yes or no. An audit will place your site somewhere on a curve between very low accessibility and excellent accessibility;
  • Systematic – the measurement of accessibility has to be done in a planned and organised way;
  • Accessibility checkpoints – accepted checkpoints, usually international ones, are the basis on which the audit should be conducted;
  • Actions – an audit must do more than highlight accessibility breaches. It must provide a roadmap for improvement.

An accessibility audit is also sometimes referred to as a conformance evaluation to determine if a website meets accessibility standards.

You’ll get a report.

A web accessibility audit typically generates a report. Oh great, more reading.

The report details these factors—

  • Overall WCAG conformance rating
  • List of issues that need to be fixed
  • Details on the website’s conformance with each of the accessibility checkpoints (there are a lot of them)

Websites can easily have hundreds of pages (especially e-commerce sites) and there is no need to go over each one.

The best solution is to examine each of the primary layout templates of your site and then apply the audit results for each template sitewide, to all identical templates.

Where does the report come from?

The auditors will check each page (as well as the overall site structure) against WCAG 2.1 or Web Accessibility Standards (WAS).

This is the most important, time-consuming part of a manual accessibility audit that nobody sees because it doesn’t show up in the final reports.

Accessibility experts check your website against WCAG 2.1’s success criteria (38 of them) or WAS’ requirements (28 of those).

Every page you request to be examined will have a specific list of accessibility issues from that page.

The important one: costs to fix it.

The most asked-for bit of info included in these audit reports is: how much will it cost me to fix all this stuff?

An important question.

The full remediation price is determined by the audit itself. Issues discovered in the audit go onto the remediation/fix list.

Typically, those required fixes include—

  • Number of templates to be audited
  • Complexity of pages (forms, media, dynamic elements, etc)
  • Current, general state of accessibility

Need an accessibility audit? Get started here → I need an audit!

 

What makes a good web accessibility audit? What should I pay for?

Glad you asked. This is where the rubber meets the road. In order to tell whether your ADA website audit is worth $500, $10,000, or somewhere in between, you need to know what you’re getting.

Mostly, it comes down to the VPAT certification document.

 

Need an accessibility audit? Get started here → I need an audit!

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