Website Accessibility: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It’s Done (Part Two)
In Part One of our series we started a discussion on Web Accessibility — the practice of ensuring there are no barriers preventing interaction with, or access to websites by people with physical disabilities, situational disabilities, and socio-economic restrictions on bandwidth and speed. We also emphasized the company’s responsibility to ensure all users have equal access to information and functionality. We provided an overview of standards and touched on compliance guidelines. In Part Two, we will discuss the specifics of those guidelines, how they can impact your business, and how you can get support in the implementation and the maintenance of them.
What Do All the Letters and Numbers Mean?
Most conversations surrounding Website Accessibility are making constant reference to WCAG, WCAG 2.1 AA, WCAG AAA and ADA Section 508 which is understandable because those standards indicate compliance. But what do all the letters stand for and what do they mean?
From Part One, we already know that WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. It is technical criteria that was developed to provide a single shared standard for web content accessibility, meeting the needs of all users including individuals, organizations, and governments across the world. Content accessibility pertains to text, images, and sounds as well as source code that defines structure, presentation, and functionality. WCAG 2.1 indicates the evolution of the standard and the ongoing effort for improvement. Guidelines content is also categorized into three levels of conformance in order to meet the needs of different groups and different situations: A (lowest), AA (mid-range), and AAA (highest).
To provide a better understanding of what the WCAG guidelines require, WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) breaks it down into 3 categories as follows:
- 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 or physical reactions.
- Help users navigate and find content.
- Make it easier to use inputs other than keyboard.
- Make text readable and understandable.
- Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
- Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
WCAG is required by law under the updated ADA Section 508 (Rehabilitation act of 1973) established to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information comparable to the access available to others.
The most current version of compliance, WCAG 2.1 has not yet been widely adopted, but it is recommended that companies looking to initiate compliance now, update to WCGA 2.1. in order to meet the level of conformance compatibility that many third parties and vendors will require sooner than later.
How Can Your Business Get There?
While it all seems very complex, the good news is that there are experts who have a deep understanding of the requirements and exactly how to achieve compliance quickly and continuously. QualityLogic has a team of those accessibility experts. We can help your team bring your website up to WCAG standards with testing and certification. We even offer assistance in fixing the errors if you don’t have the internal resources.
Additionally, once the site is compliant and certified, QualityLogic will provide ongoing monitoring and support services to ensure the site maintains that compliance and evolves as the guidelines require. Also, by monitoring current market trends in the accessibility landscape, we can provide implementation of the leading assistive technologies.
QualityLogic is committed to testing WCAG 2.1 AA and AAA and ADA Section 508 with a higher standard that not only meets but exceeds compliance levels. And by including visually impaired QA engineers who know first-hand what is required for accessible functionality, our audit team can promise a seamless user-experience regardless of the technology or platform being used.
Interested in Learning More? Let’s talk!
*This article is based on our research and opinions of the accessibility testing marketplace, but does not constitute legal advice.