What is Web Content Accessibility?
Before divulging into Web Content Accessibility, you need to understand what it is in the first place. According to the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), “Web content accessibility entails that people with disabilities can utilize the Web. More precisely, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, comprehend, navigate, and interact with the Web and that they can also contribute to the Web. In addition, web accessibility is also beneficial to others, including older people with varying abilities due to aging.”
A website needs to be usable in as many browsers as possible so that you don’t exclude potential customers, partners, or even employees. Even though it might affect the total cost of your websites, you’ll never have to convince anyone that this is indeed a worthwhile effort.
Humans deserve the same if not more deliberation than web browsers. The first thing you need to consider when discussing web accessibility is site usability for visually impaired visitors, but visual impairment is only one disability category. Cognitive, auditory, and physical impairments are equally important and need to be addressed accordingly.
Individuals with any of these impairments can use a variety of assistive devices to help to navigate through the web more easily. Accessible websites are those that work well with these kinds of assistive devices and work on delivering a user experience that reduces the need for assistive devices in the first place.
Benefits of Accessibility
Once you have understood what web content accessibility is, it is time to understand the benefits it holds.
- Good planning is the key to building a high-quality, usable website. It needs thoughtfulness and great processes. Planning your UX and design work around accessibility can raise the bar for detail in your work. Improved diligence ensures your website performs well for both humans and robots alike.
- The same details that inform a screen reader or different assistive technologies are also helpful for the search engine robots that index your website. According to the Google Webmaster Central Blog, accessible sites are more easily indexed by Google search engines which could lead to higher rankings and better matches. Google has stressed this fact for more than a decade as it undoubtedly helps in improving your site’s SEO.
- A lot of features used to make a website more accessible for users with impairments also end up helping other users. Larger fonts, better contrast, and other fundamental accessibility principles make a site a lot more usable for everyone.
- Being WCAG compliant can be the best defense against being sued for an inaccessible website. Does it mean it is bulletproof? No. But, if you receive a demand letter, you can use the documentation to prove your website or mobile app’s WCAG compliance.
- It also increases the number of people you reach. Estimates say that 1 in 5 Americans has a disability that affects their daily life, and technology is a huge part of daily life.
- WCAG also makes it easier to sell your services and goods. If you sell technology B2B, having an accessibility conformance report can rank your product higher in the minds of your buyers, especially in extremely regulated industries or the government.
- It is the right thing to do. Assistive technology can help people with disabilities utilize the web. All you need to do as creators is to ensure that you meet the WCAG standards and work on including them in modern life.
What Do You Need To Do Know About WCAG?
- The WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) are part of a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium, which is the main international standards organization for the Internet.
- The guidelines have a set of technical requirements for making your app, website, or other digital properties accessible to people with different disabilities.
- There are three versions of WCAG; 1.0, 2.0 (replaced 1.0), and 2.1.
- WCAG has 3 levels of conformance:
Level A is the minimum level;
Level AA includes Level A and AA requirements; and
Level AAA includes Level A, AA, and AAA requirements.
- Most of the ADA web accessibility settlements need the defendant to achieve compliance with WCAG 2.1 AA.
What is the difference between A, AA, and AAA?
WCAG has 3 conformance levels – A, AA, and AAA. Read on to understand with examples.
Level A – You stream a video live on your website. After the live stream is over, you proceed and upload accurate and properly timed captions to the video.
Level AA – You stream a video live on your website. You hire a transcriptionist to deliver live captions.
Level AAA – You stream a live video on your website. You hire a transcriptionist to deliver live captions and also a sign language interpreter.
Your goal needs to be WCAG AA compliance, with some AAA when it is feasible.
WCAG’s 4 guiding principles require the content to be:
Everything should be perceived in more than one way. If someone cannot see, then the written content can be read by a screen reader. If someone cannot hear, the audio content needs to have captions.
Everything is operated in more than one way. If someone is not able to use a mouse or touchpad, they need to be able to navigate by keyboard or voice command software. If someone moves or reads slowly, they should be able to request extra time to finish a task.
Everything needs to be understood. If someone clicks on the navigation menu, it has to behave like a navigation menu. If a button says, “Read More”, then it does what you expect it to do. If there is an error made on a form, then an error message should point out the location of the error and suggest how to fix it.
Anything can roll up to the newest and shiniest hardware and not break.
What is WCAG 2.1? Do You need to comply with that now?
W3C made WCAG 2.1 an official recommendation in June 2018. It has been built on WCAG 2.0 and extends on it. But, it does not supersede or replace it. CAG 2.1 adds success criteria to improve mobile (and other small screens) experiences, especially for people with bad vision, motor and cognitive, and dexterity disabilities.
Summing it Up
Web Accessibility is hands down one of the best things you could do for your website. Accessibility Spark is a perfect choice if you are thinking of introducing your website with WCAG! It helps with blindness, motor and mobility, epilepsy, color blindness, cataracts, and many more with various adjustments. It is a one-stop for everything you need to make your website WCAG compliant.
This guide is only meant to provide you with practical information with the intention of helping you build an excellent accessible site. We are, however, no legal lawyers, and none of this is legal advice. Please check the specific legislation governing accessibility for the public/web resources in your country or seek the advice of a professional lawyer if you are worried about the legal implications of WCAG.