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What is WCAG 2.0 and What Does It Mean for My Website?

Jackrabbit Design June 6, 2019 Clients, Content, Noteworthy, Web Design & Development

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What is WCAG 2.0?

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 are recommendations for making website content more accessible. By following these guidelines, your website will become more usable to a wider range of people with and without disabilities. At Jackrabbit, we strive to incorporate these guiding principles into all of our web projects.

Our Senior Designer, Johnny, wrote a noteworthy post on the basics of accessible content and the importance of following these guidelines from a client-perspective. Check out his blog post here.

WCAG 2.0 can be overwhelming to those in early stages of the website development process or who are just beginning to research web accessibility. To break down WCAG 2.0 a bit, we’ve put together a summary of the WCAG 2 Quick Reference Guide.

What principles does WCAG 2.0 consist of?

WCAG 2.0 is comprised of 4 guiding principles. In order for a website to conform to WCAG 2.0, its web content must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.

Perceivable
  • Text Alternatives: Provide text alternatives for any non-text content (i.e., images) so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
  • Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
  • Distinguishable: Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background (i.e. using contrasting colors, large font sizes).
Operable
  • Keyboard Accessible: Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
  • Enough Time: Provide users enough time to read and use content.
  • Seizures and Physical Reactions: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
  • Navigable: Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are (i.e. including page titles on all pages).
  • Input Modalities: Make it easier for users to operate functionality through various inputs beyond keyboard.
Understandable
  • Readable: Make text content readable and understandable.
  • Predictable: Make web pages appear and operate in predictable ways (i.e. using consistent main navigation items on all pages).
  • Input Assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes (i.e. properly labeling required fields on forms).
Robust
  • Compatible: Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies (i.e. web developers ensuring elements have complete start and end tags).

How does a site comply with WCAG 2.0?

For each guiding principal, there are testable success criteria that web developers and content creators can use when there are specific (or contractual) requirements for WCAG 2.0 conformity. Since websites have so many different audiences and accessibility needs, there are three defined levels of WCAG 2.0 conformance. These levels are defined as: A (lowest), AA, and AAA (highest).

For a breakdown of the WCAG levels, please visit the Understanding Levels of Conformance section detailed in WCAG 2.0.

At a minimum, websites designs and developed by Jackrabbit are launched at a Level A. Maintaining and increasing conformity to a Level AA is often at the hands of the client. Read more on how you can maintain conformity of your website in Johnny’s blog post.

Recommended Further Reading & References for Web Accessibility

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (Complete Guidelines)

The Carroll Center for The Blind Accessibility Services

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