Cost per hour for Accessibility Testing

Like all things tech, it widely varies based on location and levels of certification

different types of US, UK, and EU paper currency
different types of US, UK, and EU paper currency

Premise

A friend of mine reached out on LinkedIn. She had recently interviewed at a large university in a very big city who was currently in litigation over lack of WCAG compliance. They offered her what would be effectively poverty wages in that particular city for a position with an end date (funding was not guaranteed after a certain point) where they were requesting someone with:

  • IAAP certification
  • WCAG testing skills utilizing many forms of assistive technology
  • Coding capabilities in Drupal, Wordpress, and PHP, and;
  • Curriculum development skills.

At its most basic level, accessibility is a specialized form of QA.

Accessibility testing involves regulatory compliance. This means software is being evaluated to demonstrate where regulations are NOT being followed. That makes accessibility no different than GDPR, IPV6, HIPAA, PCI, security testing, performance testing or any other form of black-box or white-box QA software testing.

  1. Accessibility testing is currently largely manual. Only 30 % of the guidelines can be tested through code analysis by a tool.
  2. Accessibility testing also requires a fairly high EQ (emotional quotient). The most effective accessibility testers either:

- You would not expect to pay peanuts and find someone qualified to test software PCI, security, or performance.

- It is offensive to offer peanuts to accessibility testers

- It is bordering on the discriminatory to offer peanuts to accessibility testers with disabilities, and blatantly discriminatory if you pay more to testers without disabilities

It is also incredibly short-sighted to underpay accessibility testers given the current high demand and short supply triggered by the Domino’s case.

  • Poorly executed accessibility programs develop “reputations” in what is a fairly small community. There are several programs I am aware of where contractor/employee churn is so high, payment is so low, and the standards are frequently undercut by people outside of accessibility (for “business reasons”) that high quality accessibility testers and managers would never consider being associated with them.
  • Accessibility testers with disabilities do not need to be grateful to be receiving work from vendors/organization. The person with the disability is helping the organization needing accessibility subject matter expertise, not the other way around.

So, how much should I pay for an accessibility tester?

Not surprisingly, qualifications and location are the two criteria that impact pricing the most.

Overseas

Accessibility testers from established overseas consultancies can be found for as little as $20-$25 an hour. If cost is of paramount importance to you, that could be a good way to go. But there are a lot of headaches associated with overseas contracting including:

  • time zone differences
  • security for pre-release code
  • establishing test environments
  • facilitating conversations between the testers and design/development teams
  • and last but not least, finding people with experience with American regulations and attitudes towards disability

Full-time US employee w/ Benefits

In the US, you should expect to pay the same amount for an accessibility tester as any other type of technical QA.

US contractor rates

Typically, a formula can be used to convert benefited full time rates into hourly contract rates. If you are going to pay 100K for a full time benefited QA engineer, that will cost you:

  • $70 an hour for a W-2 contract not through an agency, and;
  • $76 an hour for a business-to-business invoicing relationship

Blogger, disability advocate, nerd. Bringing the fire on ableism. A11y Architect @ VMware. Wheelchair user w/ a deaf daughter. CS, Law, and Business background

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store