Website Content Accessibility Guidelines

accessibility logo graphic

When it comes to website Accessibility for disabled persons, (WCAG), most non-disabled designers tend to focus on creating sites for screen readers. Screen readers are a type of software which render images, content and text blocks into Braille or audio. In other words, they design their accessibility for those who are visually impaired, when in fact, more Canadians are challenged by Flexibility and Mobility issues which make site navigation the greater concern. Therefore, most plug & play Accessibility designs are missing the opportunity to engage with a greater portion of PWD’s, because Hearing comprises only 5% of those with a disability.

What is WCAG?

WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. They are online standardized guidelines for the design and creation of accessible websites which are inclusive of everyone, not matter your ability. The recommendations and coding standards are created and managed by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the primary international standards organization for the Internet. They have offices in Australia, Brazil, Bénélux, Suomi, Deutschland und Österreich, Ελλάδα, Magyarország, भारत, Italia, 한국, المغرب, Sénégal, Southern Africa, España, Sverige, United States, United Kingdom and Ireland to name a few. This is the orgaixatioon which ensures that websites are accessible by everyone, regardless of their disabilities or age, and help provide a better user experience (UX) for all.

WCAG 2.0 and WCAC 2.1 are the latest versions. Both are stable, useable technical standards which are being applied worldwide. They include a dozen protocols which are grouped under the four underlying principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. Then each of those are comprised of 3 levels of testable criteria which are classified as A, AA and AAA levels of access.

What are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines?

As mentioned above, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are represented by 4 cornerstone ideas which are Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. POUR, for an easy to remember acronym. It is important to note that the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are the most commonly referenced standards for accessibility lawsuits and are considered the gold standard for making a website accessible and compliant with the Accessible Canada Act. So, please read-on as we unpack each principle.

Compliance for Perceivable

Perceivable content and information must be presented to the user in ways that they can recognize. To break this down, they are suggesting that the users must be able to grasp the information which is being presented. It must be recognizable to at least one of their senses.

WCAG 2.1 Guidelines for Perceivable

  • Alternatives for Text: Non-text content must be easily presented in other forms for users which might include larger fonts options, text to speech, braille, symbols or continent presented in a simpler language.
  • Alternatives for Time Based Media: Time based media includes powerpoint presentations, video, film, slide presentations, audio, or computer-based technologies.
  • Make content adaptable: This means to present options of presenting the content without losing the context, information or structure.
  • Make content distinguishable: Simplify access to the content for users so they can see and hear it. Separate the foreground of the site from the background to produce differentiation, which makes it easier to identify individual aspects of a website.

Compliance for Operable

Letter O with red BG for WCAG 2 Illustration

Operable refers to navigation and interface. User interface components must allow ease of the use for the end user. In other words, it cannot require the user to perform interactions that they are not capable of executing.

WCAG 2.1 Guidelines for Operable

  • Make keyboards accessible: Make every function executable from keyboards.
  • Time consideration: Give enough time to users in order to read content and make use of the information.
  • Reactions and Seizures: Design content so as to not trigger known physical reactions in the user. (Strobing)
  • Navigation design: make it more intuitive for users to find content, understand where they are on a site and navigate.
  • Alternative input options: Simplify the ability of users to operate functionality via devices beyond the keyboard.

Compliance for Understandable

This addresses making the interface understandable. It is imperative that it is easy for users to understand how to operate the interface and to understand the information being presented.

WCAG 2.1 Guidelines for Understandable

  • Make it readable: Make text content readable and understandable.
  • Make it predictable: Make website pages easily accessible and act in predictable ways.
  • Assistance with inputs: Make it easy to help users avoid mistakes and take corrective actions.

Compliance for Robust

This addresses needing the content of websites to include robust content which can be interpreted by a numerous user agents. This would include assistive technologies and take into consideration that as agents and tech evolve, that the website content should continue to be accessible.

WCAG 2.1 Guidelines for Robust

  • Compatibility: This ensures that websites continue to maximize compatibility with current and future agents and assistive technologies.

The Digital Engagement Framework

Digital Engagement Framework
  • We provide WCAG assessments and single or multi-camera Live Streaming services to NGO’s, Business, Provincial and Federal Governments locally in Ottawa downtown, Bank Street Promenade, Barrhaven, Bells Corners, The Byward Market, Carp, Downtown Rideau, The Glebe, Heart of Orleans, Manotick, Preston Street, Chinatown, Somerset Village, Sparks Street, Vanier, Wellington Street West, Westboro Village, Cumberland, Gloucester, Kanata North, Kanata , and Nepean in Eastern Ontario. We also service clients in Aylmer, Buckingham, Hull, Gatineau, Masson-Angers in Western Quebec.
  • Nationally you can find us working with clients in Toronto, Queens Park, Kingston, the GTA, Vancouver and Victoria, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Halifax, Charlottetown, Regina, Fredericton, Iqaluit, St. John’s, Yellowknife and Whitehorse the provincial, municipal and territorial seats of government.
  • Internationally, we provide consulting services to a select few businesses and organizations in the United States.
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