The Essential WCAG Checklist for Website Accessibility

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The Essential WCAG Checklist for Website Accessibility

Posted January 31, 2024


Posted January 31, 2024

Stylized web browser with the three levels of WCAG conformance, single A, double A, and triple A.
Stylized web browser with the three levels of WCAG conformance, single A, double A, and triple A.

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Ensure your website meets WCAG standards with our comprehensive WCAG checklist. Discover key principles and compliance levels for optimal accessibility.

Despite the benefits of digital accessibility, organizations still struggle to meet minimum accessibility requirements. Based on a scan of neary 40,000 enterprise websites, we’ve found that: 

  • 56% of images are not accessible to individuals with visual impairments.
  • 64% of pages have links that are not clear to people with some visual and cognitive impairments.
  • 25% of forms are missing clear labels.

More importantly, only 3% of the internet is available to individuals with disabilities. 

To help organizations improve accessibility for people with disabilities, the World Wide Consortium (W3C) created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG is a shared, international standard organizations should strive to follow to meet minimum accessibility standards. The guidelines contain roughly 86 success criteria that, when met, increase accessibility on digital platforms.

Below, we’ll provide a checklist of WCAG success criteria to ensure your digital products and services meet web accessibility compliance standards.

What You Need to Know About WCAG 2.2

Before you begin reviewing your web content for WCAG conformance, it’s important to understand the principles that make up WCAG and its previous versions.

WCAG is comprised of four principles:

  • Perceivable: Content is presented in a way that can be easily understood by users. 
  • Operable: Users can interact with and navigate web elements regardless of their ability.
  • Understandable: Information presented on user interfaces is understandable by users, meaning they can comprehend the information being presented.
  • Robust: Web content is robust enough to be reliably interpreted by various user agents, including assistive technologies.

The WCAG success criteria were created based on the principles above. Guidelines have also been updated as technology changes or to better accommodate users with certain disabilities. Below is a brief summary of the history of WCAG recommendations:

  • WCAG 1.0: Released in May 1999 and now obsolete, the first version of WCAG included basic considerations for web accessibility. The version was primarily focused on HTML and was not very applicable to other technologies.
  • WCAG 2.0: WCAG 2.0 was released in December 2008 and introduced the WCAG principles as well as success criteria for organizations to follow.
  • WCAG 2.1: In June 2018, WCAG 2.1 introduced new success criteria that expanded on those released in the previous version. Many of these new criteria focused on mobile experiences and better serving individuals with cognitive disabilities and low vision.
  • WCAG 2.2: WCAG 2.2 was released in October 2023 and introduced nine new success criteria, most of which were focused on improving website navigation and user interactions. The measures outlined in WCAG 2.2 are the guidelines organizations should strive for.

To learn more about the latest version of WCAG recommendations, check out our post ‘What’s New with WCAG 2.2’.

As mentioned above, WCAG consists of 86 success criteria — pass or fail statements that address common accessibility barriers. Those success criteria are organized into three conformance levels: Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA. Each level includes the success criteria from the previous one (i.e. Level AA includes all Level A success criteria, and Level AAA includes both Level A and Level AA criteria).

  • Level A is considered the least strict conformance level and provides basic accessibility. It resolves accessibility issues that are likely to impact a large number of users such as missing alt text or missing descriptions.
  • Level AA expands on the success criteria of Level A. It addresses more accessibility issues such as maintaining appropriate color contrast, keeping navigation elements consistent, and using headings appropriately. Level AA is considered to be the minimum standard for accessibility.
  • Level AAA is the most strict — and the highest — compliance level. Level AAA includes accessibility requirements such as ASL interpretation and extended audio descriptions. These are requirements that most organizations may find difficult to fulfill.

Here’s the bottom line: organizations should strive to meet the compliance requirements outlined in WCAG 2.2 Level AA. This ensures web content is accessible for most users with disabilities.

WCAG Checklist

To help you meet WCAG accessibility requirements, we’ve created a comprehensive checklist. And don’t be overwhelmed by the number of success criteria — we know it’s a lot. But automated accessibility checkers like AudioEye scan your site for you, ensuring you’re meeting all WCAG requirements. AudioEye even manually tests for accessibility requirements that can’t be picked up by automated testing.

We recommend starting with Level A before moving on to higher levels.

WCAG Checklist Level A


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Success Criteria



Non-text Content

All non-text content (i.e. images, image buttons, and image map hot spots) have appropriate alternative text.

Audio-Only and Video-Only

Descriptive and accurate transcripts are provided for video- and audio-only content.


Captions are provided for pre-recorded videos or non-live videos (i.e. YouTube)

Audio Descriptions

Either a descriptive transcript or an audio description is provided for pre-recorded video.

Information and Relationships

Headings include the right semantic markup. Tables are linked to the appropriate headers and include captions if necessary. Text labels are associated with the right form inputs.

Meaningful Sequence

Navigation order follows code order; navigation is clear and intuitive.

Sensory Characteristics

Instructions are not dependent on visual location, shape, or size (i.e. ‘Instructions are listed on the right’ or ‘Click the square button to continue’).

Use of Color

Color alone is not used to portray information nor is it used to distinguish links from surrounding text unless the color contrast ratio is appropriate.

Audio Control

Users can pause, stop, change volume, or mute audio content that automatically plays on a page for longer than three seconds.


Web elements can easily be used via a keyboard and include page-specific keyboard shortcuts.

No Keyboard Trap

Keyboard focus and shortcuts are not locked or trapped on any page elements.

Character Key Shortcuts

Users must be able to disable key commands and change to non-printable keys, such as (Ctrl, Alt, etc.).

Timing Adjustable

Pages with time limits have the ability to adjust, turn off, or expand the time limit.

Pause, Stop, Hide

Automatically moving, blinking, scrolling, or updating content lasting longer than five seconds can be paused, stopped, or hidden by users.

Three Flashes or Below

Page content does not flash more than three times per second.

Bypass Blocks

Users can skip navigation or other page elements that are repeated across web pages.

Page Titled

The webpage has a descriptive, informative page title.

Focus Order

The order of links is clear and follows a logical, intuitive order.

Link Purpose

Users can understand the purpose of a link from the link alone. Links with similar text that redirect to different locations are easily distinguishable.

Pointer Gestures

User actions can be performed with a single pointer gesture.

Pointer Cancellation

Inadvertent activation of controls is avoided by non-use of the ‘onmousedown’ activation.

Motion Actuation

Functionalities triggered by user movement or moving the device can be disabled and similar functionality can be achieved via standard controls like buttons or controls.

Error Identification

Form validation or input errors are clearly identified and access to the error is quickly provided.

WCAG Checklist Level AA


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Success Criteria




Live media with audio contains synchronized captions.

Audio Description

Users have access to audio descriptions for non-live video.


Web page orientation is not limited to portrait or landscape; users can adjust as needed.

Identify Input Purpose

Fields that collect certain user information have an ‘autocomplete’ attribute defined.


Both text and images have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1. Large text has a ratio of at least 3:1.

Resize Text

Page elements are still readable and functional when zoomed to 200%.

Images of Text

If a visual representation can be portrayed through text alone, an image alone is not used to present text.


Functionality is not lost when content is presented at a width of 320 pixels. Horizontal scrolling is avoided as much as possible.

Non-Text Contrast (Minimum)

A minimum contrast ratio of 3:1 is available for different objects such as icons, charts, or graphs.

Text Spacing

Content or functionality is not lost when users adjust paragraph spacing.

Content on Hover or Focus

Content presented in hover or focus can be dismissed without moving the keyboard or pointer.

Multiple Ways

Users have more than one way to find other webpages on a site.

Headings and Labels

Page headings and labels are informative, and are not duplicated unless absolutely necessary.

Focus Visible

A visible indicator is present for page elements when they receive a keyboard focus.

Focus Not Observed

Elements with keyboard focus are entirely visible.

Dragging Movement

Actions that require pointer dragging can also be done with a single pointer.

Target Size

Pointer sizes are at minimum 24 by 24 pixels unless specified otherwise.

Language of Parts/Page

Language of pages is easily identifiable via the ‘lang’ attribute.

Consistent Navigation

Navigation links on a web page do not change order as users navigate the site.

Consistent Identification

Elements that repeat across a web page (i.e. a search bar) are consistently labeled as such across individual pages.

Error Suggestion

When an error is detected, suggestions are provided for how to remedy the issue in a timely, accessible way.

Error Prevention

If a user changes or deletes financial, legal, or test data, the action can be reversed, confirmed, or verified as needed.

Excessive Authentication

Cognitive function tests are not required during authentication processes unless it can be completed in another way, bypasses, or uses identification of non-text content that is provided by the user (i.e. user-provided image).

Status Messages

Status messages are announced to screen readers via live region or ARIA alert.

WCAG Checklist Level AAA


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Success Criteria



Sign Language

Sign language interpretation is provided for media with audio.

Extended Audio Description

A separate video with sufficient pauses and audio descriptions is provided when the original video contains insufficient pauses and is not optimized for audio descriptions.

Media Alternative

Pre-recorded media includes a descriptive transcript.


Descriptive text is provided for live content that contains audio.

Identify Purpose

ARIA is used to enhance HTML semantics, enabling users to more easily understand the purpose of interface elements.


Text and images have a color contrast ratio of at least 7:1; large text has a contrast ratio of 4.5:1.

Low or No Background Audio

Audio content has little to no background noise, ensuring it is easily distinguished.

Visual Presentation

Blocks of text over one sentence in length are: Less than 80 characters wide, not fully justified, have adequate line spacing, include appropriate foreground and background colors, does not require horizontal scrolling if size is doubled

Images of Text

Text within an image is used only for decoration, or if the information cannot be presented through text alone.


All page functionalities are available via the keyboard.

No Timing

There are no time limits or constraints to page content or functionality.


Interruptions such as alerts or updates can be postponed by the user.


Users can re-authenticate a page and continue activity without losing data.


Users are adequately warned of timeouts that can result in data loss (unless data can be preserved for more than 20 hours of user inactivity).

Three Flashes

No page content flashes three times per second.

Animations from Interactions

Non-essential animations and movements can be disabled by users.


A web page that’s part of a sequence of web pages are indicated as such through breadcrumbs or specifying sequence steps.

Link Purpose

Users can distinguish the purpose of each link through link text alone.

Section Headings

Sections of content are designated using headers.

Focus not Obscured (Enhanced)

Elements with keyboard focus are entirely visible.

Focus Appearance

Instances where custom indicators or backgrounds are in place have at least a 3:1 contrast between focused/unfocused states, and are at least as large as the area of a 2 pixel thick perimeter surrounding the element.

Target Size

Clickable targets are 44 by 44 pixels in size unless an alternative target size is provided.

Concurrent Input Mechanisms

Content is not limited to one specific input-type (i.e. keyboard-only or touch-only) and supports alternative inputs.

Unusual Words

Unfamiliar or ambiguous words are defined through an index, definition list, or other appropriate method.


Unfamiliar abbreviations are expanded and defined the first time it is used.

Reading Level

More understandable alternatives are provided for advanced content (typically provided for content above a ninth-grade reading level).


Pronunciation guides are provided for words that are vital to the comprehension of the page.

Change on Request

Substantial changes (i.e. spawning of pop-up windows or changes in keyboard focus) are initiated by the user and can disable options if desired.


Instructions or cues are provided to users who need assistance to complete tasks.

Error Prevention

Users can reverse, verify, or confirm submissions after information is submitted.

Accessible Authentication (Enhanced)

Cognitive function tests are not required for any step in the authentication process unless the test can be bypassed or completed with assistance from another mechanism.

Ensure WCAG Compliance with AudioEye

The checklist above is a great starting point for enhancing your site’s accessibility. However, some of the criteria mentioned above may be difficult to locate — and may be even more difficult to remedy. 

AudioEye can help. Our Digital Accessibility Platform is designed to make WCAG compliance much easier. And help organizations increase the accessibility and usability of their digital content. We do this through our automated automated testing tools that are supplemented with real human testing. This includes:

  • Our Color Contrast Checker helps you reach minimum color contrast ratios throughout your site. 
  • Expert audits that provide a comprehensive summary of your website’s accessibility.
  • Active monitoring that continuously scans your digital content with every visit
  • Automated remediations that automatically fix accessibility errors.
  • Ongoing accessibility training to create a foundation for ongoing accessibility.

No matter where you are in complying with WCAG, AudioEye provides the resources, guidance, and support needed for sustainable, long-term compliance.

Get started with a free automated scan which tests against WCAG 2.2 Level AA criteria. Or book a demo to learn more.

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Ready to test your website for accessibility?

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