Easy Checks Protocol


The W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has outlined an Easy Checks protocol, which is helpful in getting an idea of whether accessibility has been addressed in even the most basic way.

The Easy Checks protocol covers issues that are easy to verify. It is not a substitute for a more thorough evaluation. A website that passes these checks may still have substantial accessibility issues.

When a reviewer is proficient, the protocol can take as little as 15 minutes on a relatively simple page. For a more in depth discussion, see the WAI Easy Checks page.

Most of these checks are manual. However, automated tools may facilitate the process.

Note: websites that conduct university business on university-controlled domains should contain a link to an accessibility statement, as outlined by the Web Accessibility Procedure.

Easy Checks Checklist

  1. Page Titles (WCAG 2.4.2)
    • There is a <title> that briefly and adequately describes the page’s content
    • Each page in the site has a unique <title> that is adequate to distinguish from other pages
    • If possible, put unique information first in the <title>
  2. Alt Text (WCAG 1.1.1)
    • Every <img> element has an alt attribute
    • Decorative images should be hidden from screen readers (e.g. null alt attribute, ARIA role=presentation)
    • Alt text is descriptive for functional <img> elements (e.g. informative elements, image links, image buttons)
  3. Headings (WCAG 2.4.6)
    • All text that looks like a heading is marked up as a heading
    • All text that is marked up as a heading actually functions as a heading
    • The heading hierarchy is meaningful and properly hierarchically nested
  4. Color Contrast (WCAG 1.4.3)
    • The contrast ratio for normal sized text is at least 4.5:1 
    • The contrast ratio for large text (19 px and bold or 24 px and normal) is at least 3:1
  5. Resizing Text with Conventional Browser Approaches (WCAG 1.4.4)
    • All text actually enlarges (e.g. no images of text)
    • Content is not clipped, truncated, or obscured
    • Content does not overlap
    • Interactive elements (e.g. form controls) are visible and usable
    • Horizontal scrolling is not required
  6. Keyboard and Focus (WCAG 2.1.1 and 2.4.7)
    • All content can be tabbed to and away from
    • The tab order follows the reading order
    • Visual focus is obvious
    • All content can be used by a keyboard
    • Image links have clear focus and can be activated by the keyboard
  7. Forms, Labels, and Errors (Including Search Forms) (WCAG 3.3.1, 3.3.2, and 3.3.3)
    • Forms can be completed with the keyboard
    • HTML <label> elements are correctly implemented and positioned
    • Required fields are clearly indicated not through color alone
    • Instructions are provided before the form
    • Error messages are easy to find and provide clear guidance
  8. Moving, Flashing, or Blinking Content (WCAG 2.2.2, and 2.3.1)
    • Content that moves, blinks, or scrolls for more than five seconds has a pause or stop button
    • If there is automatically updating information, there is a pause or stop button
    • No content flashes and blinks more than three times in one second
  9. Multimedia Alternatives (WCAG 1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.2.3, and 1.2.4)
    • Captions are provided and are correct
    • Audio tracks describe important visuals
  10. Basic Structure (WCAG 1.3.1)
    • The page reading order makes sense when styles and images are disabled
    • Alternative text provides adequate information when images are disabled
    • Clear headings organize the page when styles are disabled

Optional Additional Checks

Those with comfort with the above protocol may wish to check for additional items, including:

  1. Page Language (WCAG 3.1.1)
    1. The <html> element should have a lang element describing defining the page’s language.
  2. Bypass Blocks (WCAG 2.4.1)
    • A link is available at the top of each page that goes directly to the main content area
  3. Accessible Link Text (WCAG 2.4.4)
    • Links have visible link text that make sense out of context
    • Links whose visible link text are not sufficient have a combination of screen-reader-only text, title attribute, and ARIA attributes to provide additional context
  4. Page Landmarks (WCAG 1.3.1)
    • The page is organized according to landmarks
    • All content is within an appropriate landmark, and no inappropriate landmarks are used
    • The page has no more than one banner, main, and contentinfo landmark
    • If there are multiple navigation, aside, search, form, complementary, or region landmarks on a page, each has a unique ARIA label.
  5. Consistent Navigation and Identification (WCAG 3.2.3 and 3.2.4)
    • If links are repeated across pages, they are presented in the same relative order and have the same label
    • If blocks and navigational elements are repeated across pages, they are presented in the same relative order and are labeled consistently.
  6. Tables (WCAG 1.3.1 and 1.3.2 )
    • Layout tables are avoided.
    • Data tables appropriately use <caption> and <th> elements.
    • <th> elements have appropriate scope attributes.

Out of Scope Items

This protocol is intended only to present accessibility checks that can be completed quickly. When using the above protocol, a reviewer may want to make note of certain out of scope items that require additional testing, including:

  1. Complex JavaScript interactivity, including custom widgets
  2. Files and documents uploaded to the site, including PDF and Word documents