Understanding Web Accessibility Standards (WCAG): A Beginner's Guide

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Web accessibility is essential for people with disabilities and useful for all. It also helps to create a better user experience and website usability for everyone. In this article we will have a closer look to website accessibility, and overview Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and discuss a few general steps that will help you make your website more accessible.

Web Accessibility: Definition and Importance

Website accessibility is about designing and developing websites that everyone can use, regardless of physical or mental ability. This helps to ensure that disabled users can have the same experience as any other user when using the website.

In the modern world, accessibility is imperative for businesses, organizations, and individuals. It helps to reduce the barriers to communication and interaction that many people face. Accessible websites also give people with disabilities equal access to information and services. In many countries, this is also a legal requirement, which means organizations must comply with accessibility standards to avoid legal actions. Read more about the benefits of web accessibility here.

What is Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)?

WCAG is a document published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The guidelines provide recommendations for creating online content that can be easily accessed and understood by people with a range of disabilities, such as visual, hearing, motor impairments, and cognitive disabilities.

The goal of WCAG is to ensure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can access and use the internet in a meaningful way.

Who Uses WCAG and How?

Web creators use the WCAG to guide the design and development process, which involves almost all aspects of its construction. These guidelines help in several ways:

  1. Understanding Accessibility Principles: Web creators can use the WCAG to understand the principles of accessibility and how to design and develop websites that are accessible to all users.
  2. Evaluating Accessibility: Web creators can use the WCAG to evaluate the accessibility of their websites. The guidelines provide criteria for measuring the accessibility of web content, and web creators can use these criteria to identify areas of the website that may need improvement.
  3. Creating Accessible Content: The WCAG provides specific guidelines for creating accessible content, such as using alternative text for images, providing captions for videos, and using descriptive links.
  4. Developing Accessible Features: The WCAG also provides guidelines for developing accessible features, such as keyboard navigation and focus indicators.

Accessible Web Content

WCAG provides a comprehensive framework for creating accessible web content, which refers to the information it contains. This includes text, images, audio, video, and other elements on a page. It also encompasses the structure, presentation, and other components of the code or markup. Making sure that all these elements are designed to be accessible to people with disabilities ensures that everyone can use the website and access the content.

WCAG principles

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are organized into four main principles: Operable, Understandable, Robust, and Perceivable.

Operable

Making sure a website is operable means that it must be easy to use, with all functionality working as expected. This includes making sure that all users can easily navigate a website and that all buttons, controls, and links are easy to use and accessible.

Understandable

Ensuring that a website is understandable means that it should be easy to understand and follow. This includes using clear and simple language, providing helpful instructions, and ensuring that all users can understand the structure of the website.

Robust

Creating a robust website means that it should work across all platforms and devices, including desktop, tablet, and mobile. This includes making sure that all functions work correctly and that the website is responsive to different device sizes and orientations.

Perceivable

Ensuring that a website is perceivable means that all users must be able to access the content. This includes making sure that all content is accessible to screen readers and other assistive technologies, and that text is large enough to be read easily.

By following the WCAG guidelines and implementing the four principles of Operable, Understandable, Robust, and Perceivable, businesses and organizations can ensure that their website is accessible to everyone.

Conclusion

The WCAG covers a wide range of topics related to website accessibility, including how to create content that is easy to understand, how to make it easy to navigate, and how to provide tools and resources for people with disabilities. Following these guidelines ensures that your website can be used by everyone, no matter their abilities.

JUNE / KARLOVE offers web accessibility audits and certification services to help evaluate and ensure compliance with WCAG 2.1.

Schedule a discovery call to learn more about how to truly guarantee that your company confidently caters to individuals with disabilities on your website.