How your organization can use the AIM (Accessibility Impact) Score

Manual accessibility testing means using a keyboard and screen reader to review a website’s accessibility. It’s the only way to truly know a website is accessible. But, manual testing can also take a lot of time and be intimidating to start as a beginner. 

Developed by WebAIM, the AIM Score combines automated and manual testing. This means organizations can now easily include both, which results in a more reliable metric. Plus, they can use documentation based on their AIM score results to take action on improving their website’s accessibility.

The AIM score doesn’t test all WCAG success criteria, but it does have 10 prioritized tests that help find the most common and impactful issues.

A more reliable accessibility metric

Including both automated and manual testing makes a more reliable measurement because you get two different types of page samples.

Automated testing tests all of your web pages for any programmatically detectable issues. This gets a sample of every page on your website. But, this sample doesn’t include every accessibility issue or the impact of the issues.

This is where manual testing comes in. Manual testing adds the necessary human-testing component to help find problems automated testing can’t. Human testers can also gauge the impact of those issues. The manual testing sample is a smaller four-page sample finding issues automated testing doesn’t and the impact of those issues.

Since the AIM Score includes both automated and manual testing, you get the breadth that comes with automated and the understanding that comes with manual. 

Add manual testing to website accessibility tracking

Since the AIM Score includes manual testing, you’ll add manual testing to your website processes. 

This is important because automated testing alone can’t tell you if your website is accessible. We need manual testing to know whether a website is accessible. 

You might think I already do automated testing – do I really need manual testing? Consider this: you’ve gone through most of your website’s errors, so it seems like your website is more accessible than ever. 

But, because there isn’t manual testing, there are issues that could be missed. For example, images have alternative text but the majority aren’t written correctly; focus indicators aren’t displaying on the page; form labels aren’t announced properly; and the impact of errors you know and don’t know about isn’t considered (just to name a few). 

Your regular AIM Score includes manual testing of four pages. While it is not a complete manual audit of possible accessibility issues, it does test for some of the most common and impactful issues. The Manual Accessibility Impact Score gives a meaningful measure of how these issues impact users with disabilities on the four selected pages.

Often, the issues found on the small four-page sample represents issues throughout the website. These manual testing results can then be used to inform improvements that will affect the entire website.

Make a more accessible website based on your AIM score findings

Each AIM Score comes with your most common issues, beginner-level documentation on each problem, and notes from the manual accessibility tester on the four pages that were tested.

Your most common issues are the perfect place to start improving your website’s accessibility. The accompanying documentation helps your org fix issues, plan training, or can be sent to specific contributors as a quick way to up-level your team on accessibility. 

You’ll proactively improve your website’s accessibility as more people get familiar with guidelines through easy-to-follow documentation or focused accessibility efforts following the AIM Score.

How you’ll get your AIM Score

Your AIM Score is the average of two different scores:

  1. Automated Accessibility Score
  2. Manual Testing Impact Score

Pope Tech automatically generates the Automated Accessibility Score based on your website’s data. The Automated Accessibility Score is a comparison of your website to the top million websites.

To generate the Manual Testing Impact Score, all we need is the four pages you want manually tested. Then, accessibility experts manually test those four pages. These experts will:

  1. Give each of the four pages a score from 1-10 for 10 different accessibility strategies.
  2. Give each page an overall accessibility score.

Pope Tech then combines the Automated Accessibility Score and Manual Testing Impact Score to give you your AIM Score. We’ll then provide support materials to help you improve your website. Read How the AIM Score is generated for a detailed example.