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Web Accessibility: Principles & Guidelines
In our introduction to Web Accessibility, we emphasized why accessibility is so important in today’s digital world by giving an overview of its history and purpose. Today, we’ll be diving into the guidelines that websites should incorporate in order to meet a level of web accessibility compliance. By following these principles, a community website is able to drive innovation, enhance its brand, extend market reach, and minimize legal risk.
The Principles & Guidelines
The WCAG breaks down the foundation of Web Accessibility into four main principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.1 Each principle has multiple guidelines that are used as the framework of how to incorporate accessible content throughout a website through the front-end (text, images, etc.) and also through the backend (coding, interfaces, etc.).
Let’s take a look at the goals of each principle:
Web content is made available to the senses - sight, hearing, and/or touch.
- Text Alternatives
- Time-based Media
Interface forms, controls, and navigation are operable.
- Keyboard Accessible
- Enough Time
- Seizures and Physical Reactions
- Input Modalities
Information and the operation of the user interface must be understandable.
- Input Assistance
Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
The Levels of Web Accessibility Compliance
WCAG classifies a website's accessibility into three levels of conformance: Level A (basic web accessibility features), Level AA (the biggest and most common barriers encountered by disabled users), and Level AAA (the highest and most involved level of accessibility).
As defined by w3.org, WCAG 2.1 covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content more accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including accommodations for blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these, and some accommodation for learning disabilities and cognitive limitations; but will not address every user need for people with these disabilities. These guidelines address the accessibility of web content on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Following these guidelines will also often make Web content more usable to users in general. 2
How to Implement
You’re not alone if the information above feels overwhelming -- that’s where we can help. Our team has been personally trained by leaders at WebAIM and speaks the web accessibility language. We offer ADA-friendly websites and can evaluate your community website to determine if it will meet the WCAG Principles and Guidelines mentioned. Contact us here to learn how we can create a welcoming and user-friendly space for all users that visit your community website. Now is the time!
The Resite Team