It is often said that the world around us is what disables people that are differently abled. The sad fact is that this is often true, especially when it comes to the digital world. That’s why web accessibility standards exist.
On this page we’ll answer ‘What is web accessibility?’. We’ll talk about the web accessibility guidelines along with the 4 principles of web accessibility. We’ll also explain the legal guidelines relating to web accessibility.
Web accessibility challenges can be experienced for a number of reasons. Poor design choices, technical coding, and even choice of language can all contribute.
Web accessibility standards help us to reduce barriers to our digital content. They help to create good online experiences for all, regardless of difference, disability or language. Legislation exists to make it a legal responsibility. Or at least that’s true for some sectors. For others, now’s the time to prepare for the future. After all, web accessibility regulations are changing fast.
In fact, 97.4% of home pages have detectable accessibility failures (to the web accessibility standards of WCAG). A pretty shocking statistic, especially in a world that expects people to do more online now than ever before.
To put this into context, based on the top accessibility failures found:
Web accessibility for people with disabilities matters. In fact, web accessibility benefits everyone.
Take web accessibility for older users for example. In recent research, we found that 1 in 4 people aged over 50 face problems accessing products and services online. This is because accessibility barriers exist for many groups of people. Improving web accessibility helps us to be more welcoming to a wider audience online.
Following web accessibility guidelines, such as WCAG, can help you to make your content more accessible.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were designed to help organizations make websites accessible. However, we know they can be difficult to understand, because there’s a lot to consider. That’s why we’ve created a website accessibility checklist. Download it for free, and share with your colleagues.
As you're increasing your knowledge around web accessibility, why not test the knowledge you've gained so far?
Take our free quiz to see how much you know about making web content more accessible. You'll also have the opportunity to access free resources, to take your expertise to the next level!
Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989.
In 1994 he founded W3C to oversee continued development of the web. W3C is an international community that works together to develop web standards to benefit all internet users. They develop specifications, guidelines, software, and tools to help ‘lead the web to its full potential’.
The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is part of W3C. They develop standards and support materials to help organizations understand and implement accessibility.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines were created by W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) in 1999. They’re a set of guidelines that help organizations to make web content more accessible. Today, they’re used all over the world and are the web accessibility standards mentioned in a lot of legislation.
We'll explore more on this later.
Since the Web content Accessibility Guidelines were created, they’ve made a huge impact on web accessibility. But as with everything, the guidelines can always be made better. The first version of WCAG was 1.0. Today, the current version is 2.1, but there's a working draft known as WCAG 2.2 in the works. It’s the fill-in until the working draft of WCAG 3.0 is finalized. WCAG 3.0 will see a completely new model of WCAG. It will go beyond a focus on making web content more accessible. It will also advise accessibility of authoring tools, user agents (such as web browser and media players), and assistive technologies.
With WCAG, there’s 3 levels of conformance. These are Level A, AA and AAA. Each one outlines elements that websites must meet to be accessible. With each level, the criteria gets harder. Meeting each extra level makes your site accessible to more and more people. As recommended, organizations should meet WCAG Level AA at minimum.
For a website to be considered accessible, it must be Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. These 4 principles of web accessibility are otherwise known as POUR.
We'll explore this later on.
Assistive technology is a product or software that supports people with disabilities. It helps them to carry out activities that might otherwise be difficult, and do so independently. A screen reader is a type of assistive technology. It’s software that helps a blind or visually impaired person to access digital content by reading it aloud.
HTML is the code used to make up a webpage and its content. It’s used to structure a page. For example, HTML is used to define a heading from a paragraph. A bullet point list from a table. An image from a video.
As we’ve said HTML is the code used to make up and structure a web page. But there’s a meaningful way to do this. It’s known as Semantic Markup or Semantic HTML. It means to use the correct structural HTML tags to define elements. For example, to structure headings in a way that defines their order of importance. To do this, you would use a <H1> tag for a main heading, followed by a <H2> for a subheading, and so on.
CSS is the code used to style a web page. It defines how certain HTML elements should be displayed. For example, with CSS you can streamline how all paragraphs, as identified by HTML, appear visually.
ARIA is a type of markup that can be added to HTML to improve accessibility. It helps assistive technologies to relay the content correctly. For example, to communicate the role of a widget, or state of dynamic content (such as a progress bar).
Each individual accesses the web using technology which suits their needs and preferences.
That means your website should be compatible for use across different devices and browsers, including assistive technologies.
These accessibility checklists will help you keep accessibility in mind throughout your digital campaigns.
Pass to your colleagues, and share with your Design team. Work together to create a more inclusive brand that's welcoming to everyone.
As an assistive technology leader, web accessibility is important to us.
Our website has recently been revamped. Not only has it been given a whole new look and feel, it's more accessible than ever before. Above all, we wanted to make it easier to understand and navigate, so make it more user-friendly.
The Americans with Disabilities Act exists to make sure every US citizen has equal opportunities to all areas of public life.
Under Title III of ADA, businesses are required to make their “place of public accommodation” accessible to people with disabilities. Since a website is a place of public accommodation, to meet ADA compliance your website must be accessible too.
Under ADA, there’s no defined standard of what makes a website accessible. So it’s a good idea to follow existing web accessibility best practices. That means, to comply with the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG). More specifically, WCAG Level AA.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is a web accessibility law for federal agencies.
It requires federal agencies to ‘make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.’ To meet Section 508, federal agencies must comply with WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA.
In this session, gain an overview of legislation. Discover the five most common WCAG errors, and learn how to find and fix them.
You’ll hear from Zenab Khan, Accessibility and Usability Consultant at AbilityNet, and Stuart Blair, Product Manager at Texthelp.
Today it’s estimated that almost 10 lawsuits are filed against inaccessible websites every business day.
As I’m sure you’ll agree, facing legal action isn’t great for a brand’s image or reputation. Whether or not you’re in an area that has web accessibility laws in place, it’s a good idea to get ahead of what’s required. Not only for your brand, but because it’s the right thing to do.