There are many things which a web designer does to improve a website that go unrecognized. Backend projects like submitting a sitemap to Google or optimizing a mobile version of the site create opportunities for your business with no change to the front end of your website.
One of these forgotten improvements is the recent addition to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines enforced by the American Disabilities Act requiring websites to comply with more intense standards.
What are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)?
Similar to making a building handicap accessible, the WCAG are a set of guidelines to help disabled people navigate online. They aim to “improve the accessibility on web content, websites and web applications on desktop computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices for people with a wide range of disabilities, including auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech and visual disabilities.”
The WCAG helps web designers make online content more accessible to people with disabilities. Did you know that about 1 in 4 American adults have disabilities that impair their ability to absorb online content? By making your website WCAG compliant, you open your business to a new market.
How does this affect my website?
Recent changes to the WCAG call for more intense standards to ensure accessibility to disabled visitors. While there are many ways to make your website more accessible through the 2.0 guidelines, the additions in the 2.1 guidelines focus on making mobile versions of your website accessible.
Within the WCAG, there are three levels of compliance, the third being the highest. Level A, the lowest, covers the most basic web accessibility features. Level AA deals with the biggest barriers for users with disabilities, and Level AAA, the highest level, details the most complex levels of web accessibility. There are a total of 78 criteria throughout the three levels.
Top Concerns for Level A Compliance
Keep in mind that some website visitors can’t see well or at all so they will be using a screen reader. In Level A of the WCAG, it’s important to provide an alternative to video-only content (such as subtitles), write clear and helpful page titles, have a logical order to your website, and ensure every link’s purpose is clearly defined by written context.
Top Concerns for Level AA Compliance
Part of being Level AA compliant is to make sure the contrast ratio between text and background is at least 4.5: 1 and that text can be resized to 200% without loss of content or function.
Top Concerns for Level AAA Compliance
Level AAA guidelines are the highest standard within the WCAG. They require that content be broken up with headings, strange words and abbreviations be explained, and users with nine years of school experience be able to read your content.
To see how compliant your website is with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, run your web address through this validator: https://achecker.ca/checker/index.php
Remember to talk to your web design expert to ensure you’re making your website accessible to all users.
Not sure if your site is ADA Compliant? Schedule a call with us to discuss further how we can help you maintain these standards.