The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, often abbreviated to WCAG, are a series of guidelines for improving web accessibility. First produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1999, the WCAG are the components to be considered and included, where possible, to make your website useful to all of your users.
With the 2nd version of the guidelines released in 2008, these internationally recognised and adopted standards explain how to solve many of the problems that your users with disabilities face. And, as of 2015, all Australian Government websites had to be WCAG 2.0 compliant.
To paraphrase WCAG
The accessibility guidelines have to been developed to make websites...
- Provide text alternatives for non-text content.
- Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia.
- Create content that can be presented in different ways,
- including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning.
- Make it easier for users to see and hear content.
- Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
- Give users enough time to read and use content.
- Do not use content that causes seizures.
- Help users navigate and find content.
- Make text readable and understandable.
- Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
- Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
- Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.
WCAG 2.0 levels
WCAG 2.0 is organised into three levels of conformance:
- Level A – the most basic web accessibility features
- Level AA – deals with the biggest and most common barriers for disabled users
- Level AAA – the highest (and most complex) level of web accessibility
For most websites, and certainly the website that we build in Drupal, Level AA plus some Level AAA is the best target. That’s because some of the highest level guidelines simply can’t be applied to all websites. However, one of the problems with the three-tier structure is that if people know they can’t attain AAA, they won’t even look through the guidelines to see where they can improve accessibility. With all of your projects, you should comply with all the guidelines you can, whether you want Level AAA or not.
Starting with Level A is a great way to make progress and begin helping out your users. Level AA is the standard many governments are using as a benchmark as this level targets the most common and most problematic issues for web users.
Ideas for extra content - https://www.wuhcag.com/wcag-checklist/
To learn more about accessibility take a look at our information on
- Catering for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing
- Catering for the vision impaired
- Catering your content for screen readers