The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), are a set of web standards that ensure the Internet is a more inclusive and accessible space for all. They provide a set of formal guidelines for site owners, authors and developers to create accessible web content for users of all abilities.
In 2018, the W3C published WCAG 2.1, which added additional standards to WCAG 2.0, first published in 2008. WCAG has three levels of conformance categorized, Level A, Level AA and Level AAA. Level A indicates a lower level of conformance, while AAA indicates the highest level. WCAG compliance guidelines apply to dynamic content, multimedia, mobile content and non-web information and communications technologies.
What is WCAG Compliance?
As defined by the guidelines, to achieve WCAG compliance, digital content must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust in order to be accessible to all users.
- Perceivable content means that all users must be able to perceive and understand all digital content and information featured on a website.
- Operable content means that all users must be able to easily navigate information throughout the website.
- Understandable means that all users should be able to follow, read and digest digital information displayed on a website.
- Robust means digital content should be compatible with assistive technologies and should evolve with assistive technologies.
Who Needs to Follow WCAG Guidelines?
In January 2017, Section 508 adopted the WCAG 2.0 Level AA success criteria, meaning any federal agency (or their respective subcontractors) must ensure their digital content complies with Level AA of the WCAG 2.0. Additionally, the Department of Education (Office of Civil Rights), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Transportation, U.S. District Courts, and various State Courts have consistently demonstrated the enforcement of website accessibility using WCAG standards as the benchmark. Consistently, established legal precedents require conformance with WCAG guidelines to fulfill obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As a globally adopted set of standards, it is recommended that any business, education institution, federal, state and local government agencies with an online presence comply with WCAG, ensuring their platforms are accessible to users of all abilities. Without WCAG compliance, these institutions, agencies, and organizations face the risk of costly web accessibility lawsuits.
How to Test WCAG Compliance?
Our proprietary technology can quickly assess whether your online content is compliant with WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards. If risks and errors are identified, not only are you at legal risk, millions of individuals with disabilities are unable to access your site. The good news is that our fully managed solution will get you on the path to compliance on day one of implementation, and we keep you there from initial assessment to ongoing content changes.