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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
WCAG 2.1 Guidelines for Robust
- Compatibility: This ensures that websites continue to maximize compatibility with current and future agents and assistive technologies.