Occasonally, we're asked to evaluate third-party websites that may have been commissioned from external agencies. This is not a full audit which is a time-consuming process, but an accessibility evaulation of a few representative pages to get a general feel of the accessibility of a site.

This methodology would also be appropriate if we're asked to evaluate some third party software for internal use.

Choose representative pages

How many really depends on the time and resources available (and the size/ complexity of the site being smoketested). If the vendor/ requestor has not nominated any, these are good candidates:

Testing methodology

Dept of Work and Pensions' Accessibility Manual has a nicely-structured list of Basic accessibility checks, with a downloadable spreadsheet containing a sheet per candidate page and a page with step-by-step instructions on how to test.

Note that Step 1 ('Automated tools') is no longer necessary as valid HTML is no longer an accessibility requirement.

Other steps, eg Step 10 (Session Timeouts) may not be relevant to every page.

Note that many of the guidelines are a judgement call. Criteria like "Headings and labels are clear and descriptive" or "Alt text for important images is clear and accurate" cannot be tested by a machine, and your idea of "clear" as a Barnardo's employee may not be the same as a vulnerable child's idea of "clear". Try to keep a potential service user in mind.

Caveat testor

As stated above, this is not a comprehenive audit. As DWP writes,

The intent of this basic checklist is to cover the most common WCAG failures. Completing this checklist will not guarantee your service is fully compliant with WCAG.

Testing resources