What is WCAG and why is it important?

web content accessibility guidelines, or wcag, are considered the benchmark for website accessibility. Created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), following the WCAG guidelines is the best and easiest way to make your website usable for all of your customers.

Many governments and healthcare organizations are required by law to meet these standards. however, for a virtual, private, or commercial business, complying with wcag is not a necessity. Following this standard allows you to be sure that your website and online booking page are accessible to the widest possible audience.

what is web accessibility?

So, before we dive into the nitty-gritty of what exactly wcag compliance entails, you first need to fully understand what web accessibility is.

Accessibility is the ability of everyone to have access to something, regardless of the conditions they may have.

Website accessibility follows this trajectory and ultimately means that people living with disabilities can use and enjoy the web more comfortably. Of course not all disabilities mean you will have difficulty using the internet, however only in the UK:

  • there are nearly 2 million people classified as partially or totally blind,
  • another 11 million people have some degree of hearing loss,
  • another 1.5 million have a learning disability.
  • wcag compliance is intended to help web users living with various levels of these conditions. it also helps other conditions, such as cognitive or mobility limitations, speech problems, and photosensitivity. wcag is also beneficial for people with temporary or conditional ailments, such as age-related vision loss or other conditions or accidents, such as a broken arm.

    As a business owner, you already know how important it is to understand what your customers want. but strangely, knowing what they need is often overlooked. Being in tune with how they might access information about your business and your content online is vital to making your website more versatile. this is precisely what the wcag guidelines ensure and adopting them is the starting point for site-wide accessibility.

    When sites are designed, developed, and maintained correctly, more often than not, all users have equal access to information and capabilities. but the number of hurdles you have to overcome to be wcag compliant is a much larger topic.

    what is the wcag 2.0 standard?

    First published on December 11, 2008, wcag 2 is the second most recent accessibility standard published by w3c. provide recommendations on how to increase the usability of your website content and make it accessible to people with disabilities. On top of this, following the wcag guidelines often makes web content more enjoyable and interactive overall.

    Primarily a series of 12-13 guidelines, wcag compliance is organized into 4 categories and each of the success criteria in that category is measured at one of three levels. every version of wcag released is a referenceable technical standard. the guidelines are designed primarily for web developers, authoring tool developers, site testers, or anyone else who wants or needs a standard for web accessibility.

    also approved as an iso (international organization for standardization) standard, implementing wcag is another great way to ensure your website is up to par. furthermore, wcag is part of a series of accessibility recommendations; This includes the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (atag) and the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (uaag).

    who created wcag?

    wcag was formed by the world wide web consortium or w3c. The global organization was founded in 1994 with the purpose of creating international standards for the World Wide Web, or www as it is more commonly known.

    how many wcag success criteria are there?

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    In total, there are 61 requirements for wcag 2.0 and an additional 17 requirements for wcag 2.1. the newer wcag guidelines are a subset of the older ones, so the initial 61 success criteria of 2.0 remain the same.

    The criteria are designed as a broad instruction, or wcag checklist, for authors, testers, and website owners. as such, they cover mobile usability, pc and laptop, television, tablet and any other electronic device where you can access the internet.

    The list of wcag success criteria is divided into 3 groups:

    • sufficient techniques
    • counseling techniques
    • bugs
    • sufficient criteria are things that will reliably help make a website more accessible. these include screen reader support, allowing users to increase font sizes and use light colors and contrasts when designing pages.

      The warnings, as the name suggests, are more like recommendations. these are suggested ways you could improve your website, but may not be considered sufficient for a variety of reasons. this includes lack of testability or being based on technology that is not yet stable enough, for example vr or virtual reality, at the time of writing.

      flaws are barriers that stand between a disadvantaged user and your website. as such they prevent you from complying with wcag unless an alternative is provided. Along with successes, these are documented to give testers examples of what not to do.

      what are the four main accessibility categories?

      In addition to the success criteria, there are also four important accessibility principles to consider if you want to adopt wcag compliance. these follow the acronym “pour”, which stands for: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust.

      1. noticeable

      In a nutshell, this means that the content must be detectable by the user’s senses. this means that they must be able to recognize the information presented to them.

      this includes allowing users to hear the content (and making sure it stands out from background noise), using alternatives to traditional text such as braille, large print, symbols, screen readers, or creating basic layouts for the content without deviating of the original message.

      2. operable

      It’s about making sure that users can comfortably navigate your website and that the interface is easy to use. There should be no part of the site that is inaccessible or no step that someone cannot complete.

      This includes avoiding fast-moving or intermittent content when designing your web presence, as this is known to cause seizures or similar reactions. making it easy to navigate the site without a keyboard, but also making sure the site is keyboard accessible for those who can’t use a mouse. You’ll also want to make sure you don’t restrict the time it takes for someone to read a piece of content and present alternatives to anything that’s time-based.

      3. understandable

      Users must be able to process the information in front of them and also be able to understand how to use and navigate the website.

      This includes making text clear and readable, and using input assistance and predictability to ensure that users avoid mistakes and that pages appear in a friendly, anticipatory manner.

      4. robust

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      This covers the importance of thinking about the likely ways technology could evolve and building this into the way you adapt your website. As a general rule, if technology and users change and develop, content should remain accessible. it must also be understood by a wide range of users with different disabilities and remain easy to understand.

      what are wcag levels?

      Along with your wcag checklist, you will also need to ensure that you meet one of the different levels required for certification. there are three levels in total and they determine the degree of compliance recommended for different situations and requirements: a is the lowest, aa is the middle range and aaa is the highest.

      Like success criteria, one level of wcag succeeds another. this means that if your website is aa compliant, it will also conform to the a level.

      what accessibility should a website have?

      just like success criteria, one level of wcag succeeds another. this means that if your website is aa compliant, it will also conform to the a level.

      In terms of the level of accessibility your website must have, it meets the minimum required standard. therefore, in most cases, it is recommended that you aim to be at a conformance level. Although aaa is the highest rating you can get, it’s hard to make an entire website that fits that level every time.

      The level of wcag compliance you should aim for also depends on your audience. if you are likely to attract more visitors who could benefit from improved accessibility levels, you should try to meet their needs.

      how do i make my website wcag compliant?

      Making a website compliant is no easy task and it can take a long time to achieve the necessary compatibility to get wcag approval. but the good news is that there are plenty of things you can implement to start ticking off that wcag checklist.

      The easiest thing is to use free automated tools to check accessibility. some examples are axe, wave, spike, or siteimprove; there are many others. these automated checks help find issues and can be a great first step in ensuring accessibility. just be careful as they won’t find everything; in fact, they sometimes find less than 30% of non-compliance issues on a page. At least you don’t have to worry about your 10to8 online booking website – we’ve already taken care of wcag compliance on 10to8 booking pages!

      alternate tags

      As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, if you’re visually impaired, you may not be able to see that image or the text within an image, and website owners need to consider how this might affect the user experience.

      This is where alt text (also known as alt text) comes into play. allows you to add a short description of the image on your site which can then be picked up by a screen reader. you can use the standard alt attribute for short descriptions and a “longdesc tag” for longer explanations.

      plus adding alt tags also helps with the seo of your website so you can kill two birds with one stone!

      increase the size of things

      Although increasing the font size is important, when making areas of your view expandable, you’ll also need to consider the areas that are clickable. a visually impaired person or someone with motor difficulties may need a larger area to click to make sure they aren’t selecting the wrong thing or pressing the button.

      form buttons, small links, and forward and back arrows are just a few examples of things that can be quite frustrating to target. therefore, it’s important to make sure that these things, as well as the main text of a page, can be expanded to suit people’s needs.

      make videos and multimedia accessible

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      This can incorporate many different things, so you’ll need to pay close attention to how users can access different aspects of media on your website. for example, a blind person will not be able to see a video while a deaf person will not be able to hear it. Both of these factors must be taken into account when making that video accessible.

      In addition to videos, you’ll also need to consider how people with disabilities will interact with gifs, graphics, and buttons. Make sure people can safely interact with the flashing images and that there is an easy way to turn them off. Allowing media files to start automatically is also something to avoid, as it can be difficult to disable!

      dynamic content that can change without reloading the page is another no-no. can present a problem for people using screen readers, or the like, as many screen readers only “read” the site as it initially appears. this is where aria roles come in.

      aria stands for accessible rich internet applications and is basically a tag that you can add to the content of a page. you can then mark the dynamic content as a “live region”, meaning the screen reader will be able to understand it, even if it changes.

      make sure it is keyboard compatible

      Think about it: how would users navigate your website if they couldn’t use a mouse? would it be easy to navigate or would they give up after a minute?

      Blind users are likely to use a braille keyboard and some form of screen reader when browsing the internet and it is essential that they be able to navigate all elements of your site in this way. Some areas to check are:

      • url
      • forms
      • dropdown menus
      • anchor text
      • Also, make sure widgets and other built-in applications can be accessed through the keyboard. Alternatively, you can use html, as long as the end result is a keyboard accessible site.

        is the 10to8 online booking page wcag compliant?

        yes! We worked very hard to achieve our wcag level aa certification but it was worth it. we can now help businesses serve a larger audience and schedule appointments for customers living with disabilities.

        “I am proud to be able to champion the wcag compliance project and work with the entire product team to implement changes to our product that will make it more accessible. it’s very gratifying to hear from our partners that the changes my colleagues and I made to our software make a difference to so many people with different skill levels.” – riddhi agrawal, the lead software developer for the wcag project.

        “At 10to8, we try to be inclusive and helpful. complying with wcag is just another way we are trying to reinforce our core values. We take data security and compliance (like gdpr, hipaa, ccpa, iso 27001, dsp toolkit) very seriously, but when regulations like wcag improve our product for so many end users, that makes it even more important to us . It’s also our responsibility to make the web more accessible.” – Matthew Cleevely, CEO.

        read the 10to8 accessibility statement.

        generally…

        web accessibility matters. Achieving wcag compliance on your website may seem like a pretty daunting task, but in this day and age, it’s definitely the right thing to do. There are millions of users who have difficulty accessing the internet, and as a business owner, it is your responsibility to think about your customers. all of them.

        then hopefully we managed to make it clear why wcag compliance is important and how it can lead to more business and create a better brand image. And not only will you see the benefit of additional clicks and conversions, but your users will definitely thank you for making them more welcome on your website.

Content Creator Zaid Butt joined Silsala-e-Azeemia in 2004 as student of spirituality. Mr. Zahid Butt is an IT professional, his expertise include “Web/Graphic Designer, GUI, Visualizer and Web Developer” PH: +92-3217244554

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