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What is the bare minimum I need to know about WCAG?

  1. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG, are part of a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium, the main international standards organization for the Internet.
  2. The guidelines provide a set of technical requirements for making your website, app or other digital properties accessible to people with various disability types.
  3. There are currently three versions of WCAG—1.0, 2.0 (replaced 1.0), and 2.1—and the release of 2.2 is expected in the Fall or early Winter 2021 (Read more about WCAG 2.2).
  4. There are 3 levels of WCAG compliance:
    • Level A is the minimum level;
    • Level AA includes all Level A and AA requirements; and
    • Level AAA includes all Level A, AA, and AAA requirements.
  5. Most ADA web accessibility settlements require the defendant to achieve compliance with WCAG 2.1 AA.

Connect with a WCAG Compliance Specialist

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Why does my business need to achieve WCAG compliance?

Being WCAG compliant is the best defense against being sued for having an inaccessible website. Is it bulletproof? No. But if you get a demand letter, you will have the documentation to prove your website or mobile app’s WCAG compliance.

Being WCAG compliant increases the number of people you reach. Estimates are that 1 in 5 Americans has a disability that affects their daily life. Technology is a big part of daily life.

Being WCAG compliant makes it easier to sell your goods and services. If you sell technology B2B or B2G, having an accessibility conformance report will rank your product higher in the minds of your buyers, especially in highly regulated industries or the government.

Being WCAG compliant is the right thing to do. Assistive technology helps people with disabilities use the web. All we need to do as creators is ensure that we meet WCAG standards and we can include them in everything great about modern life.

Learn more about the business case for web accessibility.

Can you explain WCAG’s principles in plain English?

WCAG’s 4 guiding principles require content to be:

Perceivable. Everything can be perceived in more than one way. If someone cannot see, written content can be read by a screen reader. If someone cannot hear, audio content has captions.

Operable. Everything can be operated in more than one way. If someone cannot use a mouse or touchpad, they can navigate by keyboard or by voice command software. If someone moves or reads slowly, they can request additional time to complete a task.

Understandable. Everything can be understood. If someone clicks on a navigation menu, it behaves like a navigation menu. If a button says, “Read More” it does what you expect it to do. If an error is made on a form, an error message points out the location of the error and suggests how to fix it.

Robust. Everything can roll up to the newest and shiniest hardware and not break.

Let us show you if, and how, your site is meeting these four principles.

The 4 Principles of WCAG - Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust

What’s the difference between A, AA, and AAA?

WCAG compliance has three levels – A, AA, and AAA. Let’s explain with an example.

Level A – You livestream a video on your website. After the livestream is over, you upload accurate and properly timed captions to the video.

Level AA – You livestream a video on your website. You hire a transcriptionist to provide live captions.

Level AAA – You livestream a video on your website. You hire a transcriptionist to provide live captions as well as a sign language interpreter.

Your goal should be WCAG AA compliance, with a sprinkling of AAA when it’s feasible.

What is WCAG 2.1? Do I need to comply with that now?

W3C made WCAG 2.1 the official recommendation in June 2018. It builds on and extends WCAG 2.0. It does not supersede or replace it. If you’re already compliant with 2.0, great! From a legal standpoint, you’re doing better than most.

WCAG 2.1 adds success criteria to improve mobile (and other small screen) experiences, especially for people with low vision, motor and dexterity disabilities, and cognitive disabilities.

Read more about the 17 new success criteria

The bottom line? Start to integrate WCAG 2.1 criteria as you’re developing new assets.

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How do I test my website for WCAG compliance?

If you’ve never tested your site before – or you’ve only used free tools – you will want to set up an audit with an accessibility expert. During the audit process, there will be automated testing, manual testing, and functional testing by people with disabilities.

At the end of the audit process, you will receive a report with your overall level of WCAG compliance and a list of accessibility issues that need remediation. Depending on your relationship with your vendor, they can provide training or helpdesk support, or even code side-by-side with your developers.

Request free compliance check of your website now

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We’d love the opportunity to answer your questions, provide additional resources, or run a free compliance check on your site. Please complete this form and we’ll be in touch!

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