In today’s digital age, every organization carries a vital responsibility – ensuring that their digital content is accessible to all. This responsibility isn’t just a moral obligation; in many countries, it’s also a legal requirement. But beyond compliance, embracing digital accessibility comes with a host of practical advantages that offer a substantial return on investment. With over 1 billion people worldwide living with some form of visual and cognitive impairments, the principles of accessibility align seamlessly with the best practices of development, design, and search engine optimization.
However, while the idea of prioritizing accessibility is straightforward, implementing accessible design practices can be challenging, especially if you’re uncertain where to begin. The key to enhancing accessibility lies in comparing your content against objective standards.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a set of principles and success criteria established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), stand as the gold standard for digital accessibility. They provide the essential framework for crafting better content.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the subject, shedding light on the WCAG compliance levels and the objectives of a WCAG audit. So, let’s not delay any further and get started.
Understanding the WCAG Audit's Purpose
- Establish an appropriate and attainable WCAG conformance objective.
- Identify instances of WCAG non-compliance.
- Recognize accessibility issues that may not impede WCAG conformance but adversely affect user experiences.
- Offer effective remediation strategies based on best practices to enhance the user experience.
- Provide relevant accessibility training for developers and designers.
- Demonstrate WCAG conformance by creating an accessibility statement.
The Significance of WCAG Conformance
While achieving 100% accessibility for all users is a challenging endeavor, the principle-based framework of WCAG serves as a robust resource for accommodating as many individuals as possible. WCAG’s requirements revolve around making content perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
By embracing these principles, your organization can broaden its audience reach. Moreover, due to its widespread recognition, organizations that demonstrate WCAG conformance enjoy an enhanced brand reputation. Websites that align with WCAG also experience improved user retention rates, increased conversions from visitors to customers, and a better position in search engine rankings. WCAG compliance also reinforces adherence to international accessibility regulations.
Key Success Criteria
- No Keyboard Trap: Many users navigate the internet solely with a keyboard. Ensuring there are no elements that “trap” keyboard-only users on a webpage, such as form entry fields, is crucial.
- Non-Text Content: Images, graphs, and other non-text elements must have text alternatives that serve the same purpose. This caters to users who cannot perceive content visually and those who choose to disable images while browsing.
- Minimum Contrast for Text: People with color vision deficiencies often struggle to read text with poor contrast against the background. WCAG provides requirements for color contrast, particularly for text of different sizes.