Website Audits: Is the CNIB Robbing You Blind?

By Geof Collis

Note: This article is translated to Serbo-Croatian language by Jovana Milutinovich from Web Geeks Resources and in French by Kate Bondareva.

Last week I received a phone call from an Organization wanting to know how much I charge for doing Web Accessibility Audits, they were putting together a resource for others to use.

After discussing how much I charge and the methodology I use our conversation turned to the CNIB and the service they provide for doing the same thing.

The person on the phone told me what they charged for a 10 page Audit and what I heard absolutely flabbergasted me.

Talk about robbery. The price as far as I am concerned is outrageous and they should be building the site for the cost, not just an Audit!

It also runs the risk of Companies not wanting to go the accessibility route because of financial constraints and that doesn’t help the Disability Community.

As I state on my site at

While Badeyes can do in-depth Audits, we feel that money would be better spent towards actually making your site Accessible.

A ‘free’ quick Audit can expose how inaccessible your site is and then a plan on how to bring it up to speed could be developed and implemented with the money you saved.

On the CNIB website they speak about 10 page, 25 page and 100 page Audits, depending on the size of your site.

I’ve been Auditing sites in one form or another for over 10 years and it has been my experience that it doesn’t matter about how many pages you have rather the type of content.

As a screen reader user I can tell pretty much as soon as i enter your site how accessible it is. Run a quick test with an automated tool and it confirms my preliminary diagnosis.

If I were to be doing an Audit for your Company I would dissuade you from giving me the pages you want checked, I know what accessibility issues to be looking for.

Many websites are just straight forward content and accessibility issues are easily found and fixed, however with so much Multimedia and interactive design around these days accessibility barriers have multiplied. In many cases Content Management Systems (CMS) are being used and making site wide changes reduces the amount of time and effort needed to affect change.

Knowing what to look for and Audit accordingly is what any good Auditing Company should be doing.

The Audit should point out where the errors are and how to fix them then your web developer can learn hands on themselves what to look for throughout your site, this increases their own knowledge of accessibility, but as I wrote earlier, my experience tells me that your money would be better spent pursuing a more stable long term in house plan.

One option would be to have your developer (in consultation with whatever company you choose) use an online validator like Total Validator (currently it is only available as a desktop application), not only does it catch a lot of accessibility issues it gives links to resources on how to fix them. In this way they would be learnig accessibility from the ground up.

It must be noted though that automated checkers should only be part of the plan and not be solely relied upon, further knowledge is required, resources such as the following are a good start:

CNIB also writes that it’s Audit includes an “CNIB Site Check Certification” for which I wrote
an article a while back Site Check Certifications, Who Can You Trust?, they didn’t measure up then so I did a quick check on their Audit page.

On that page using W3C Validator I found 54 html errors (W3C Validator page check results)

Using Total Validator I found the following:

Total errors found: 68 (Parsing: 3, HTML: 61, WCAG v2 A: 3, WCAG v2 AA: 1) 
Total warnings found: 35 (Parsing: 9, WCAG v2 A: 26) 
(X)HTML used for this page: XHTML 1.0 Strict  

CNIB states on their Services page:

As a recognized authority on Digital and Web Accessibility, CNIB’s commitment is to ensure the Digital world is a resource for everyone to use equally.
That is why businesses, organizations and government come to us first for help in understanding and achieving compliance with current accessibility standards and legislation. They rely on our expertise, our reputation and our dedication in creating an equitable and inclusive society for ALL Canadians.

Note on that page the title, is ‘Home” but it is their “Services’ page and it also didn’t validate.

Total errors found: 67 (Parsing: 3, HTML: 59, WCAG v2 A: 4, WCAG v2 AA: 1) 
Total warnings found: 31 (Parsing: 10, WCAG v2 A: 21) 
(X)HTML used for this page: XHTML 1.0 Strict  

The Home page was actually worse:

Total errors found: 117 (Parsing: 10, HTML: 92, WCAG v2 A: 14, WCAG v2 AA: 1) 
Total warnings found: 11 (Parsing: 3, WCAG v2 A: 8) 
(X)HTML used for this page:
XHTML 1.0 Strict  

Many of their errors are sloppy mistakes and easily fixed but if they are a self proclaimed Authority on web accessibility shouldn’t their website be an example of this?

How can they perform expensive Audits if their own website isn’t compliant?

Remember, just because it’s the CNIB, doesn’t make them an Authority or experts on web Accessibility and you’d be well advised to get other proposals if you want to go the Audit route.

Note: The CNIB web pages were audited at the time of this writing and the files can be accessed at CNIB Audit Files (58.5 kb compressed folder).