An introduction to Accessibility, and WCAG 2.1 additions
Accessibility compliance can be a confusing world to get started in. There are a ton of acronyms: W3C, WCAG 2.0, WCAG 2.1, ADA compliance, AA certified, 508 compliance, etc. But what do these all mean?
- W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) is an international community that creates web standards in these focuses: HTML5, CSS, and the Open Web Platform
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) are the most current standards for website accessibility
- ADA and 508 compliance refer to more general bills passed that aim to provide accessibility services to all
- A, AA, AAA certified websites refer to the WCAG Guidelines, but are different levels of conformance (“A” being the least amount of conformance, and “AAA” being the most robust)
WCAG 2.1 has four principles and within the four principles are 13 guidelines. The accessibility success criteria fall under Level A, AA, or AAA certification.
1. Perceivable—Can everyone perceive this?
- Provide text alternatives for non-text content
- Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia
- Create content that can be presented different ways without losing information / structure / meaning
- Make it easier for users to see and hear content
2. Operable—Can everyone operate this?
- 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
3. Understandable—Can everyone understand this?
- Make text readable and understandable
- Make content appear and function in predictable ways
- Help users avoid and correct mistakes
4. Robust—Can everyone use this?
- Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools
In WCAG 2.1, everything you have been doing for WCAG 2.0 is still valid in 2.1. With WCAG 2.1’s additions, guidelines will make content more accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities and also make websites more usable for all users. Overall, 12 new success criteria have been added for Levels A and AA certification, and 5 new success criteria have been added for Level AAA certification. Most of these new additions are related to Mobile, Cognition, and Low vision criteria.
Want to read more in depth at all the criteria for WCAG 2.1? Check out the examples at w3.org.