What do Target, H&R Block, and Home Depot all have in common?
These aren’t just businesses that have become household and industry names. They’re also businesses that have had to pay millions in fines because they have websites that aren’t accessible to people with disabilities.
If you run and business and have a website, you need to know about WCAG accessibility and how it can impact you.
The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that certain websites need to meet a degree of accessibility for people with disabilities. Those that fail to meet it could face hefty fines.
If you’re new to the WCAG compliance, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about online accessibility.
What is WCAG Accessibility?
The abbreviation WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
WCAG is the global standard in digital accessibility. It helps businesses and organizations assess the accessibility of content, websites, and apps for people with disabilities.
The WCAG are set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The organization is devoted to making the internet as accessible as people to people of all different backgrounds. They’re constantly making improvements to their guidelines.
The WCAG has three levels of compliance: A, AA, and AAA. Level A refers to the lowest level of compliance, and Level AAA is the highest.
Many businesses try to aim for Level AA. The mid-level is relatively easy to achieve and does a lot to improve accessibility.
How Can I Be WCAG Compliant?
Compliance may seem complicated. But in truth, being WCAG compliant can be very easy.
If you want to make a fully accessible digital experience, be sure to follow these tips during the design and development process.
Use An Accessible CMS
The easiest way to have an accessible website is to use a platform that’s already built for accessibility.
Luckily, popular CMS platforms like WordPress and Drupal, are already built with accessibility in mind. Do your research and see which platforms have the most built-in accessible features.
When you choose website themes on already accessible platforms, each theme you choose should have tips for creating accessible content and layouts.
Don’t forget that every part of your website needs to be accessible. Pay attention to accessibility in commenting features and form submissions.
Prioritize Keyboard Navigation
A truly accessible website can be used without a mouse.
You may not know this, but a lot of assistive technologies are powered by keyboard-only navigation. You should be able to use all of your site’s features, including access to links, content, and all pages.
Many people that use keyboard navigation rely on the tab key. The tab kay can allow people to jump between links and buttons and allow them to “click” on certain website features.
Utilize Alt Text
If you have an image on your website, it’s safe to assume that it needs proper alt text.
Alt-text is essential for screen reader functions so they can help users understand the message conveyed by images on the page. This can be very important for images that display information like infographics or branded pictures.
When you write alt text, be as descriptive as possible. Also, resist using SEO keywords in alt text unless they related directly to the image.
Remember Color Contrast
Did you know that there are approximately 300 million people in the world that have some form of color-blindness?
The colors you choose for your website are very important. If you use the wrong ones, certain website elements can be difficult to read or nearly invisible for some users.
Dark fonts on a dark background can be as difficult to read as light text on a light background. It’s important to use contrasts to make elements easily visible.
If you’re concerned about the certain contrasts of colors, use other visual indicators like asterisks or question marks. Using white space and text borders can help make a visual separation between content blocks.
Are you unsure of if your current color scheme is accessible enough? Try out this helpful and free color contrast tool to see if you have the right colors.
Utilize Headings for Content Structure
The way you structure your content could affect how accessibility tools view what you post.
Screen readers use headings to navigate content. When you use proper headings tags (
, etc.), your website content will be well organized and easy for screen readers to follow.
Avoid picking header styles and texts because they look nice visually. Make sure everything is in the right order and don’t skip around.
tag should only be used for the primary title on the page. If you use it more than once, screen readers may assume that users are on a new page and not simply a new paragraph.
Give Links Unique Names
Using the phrase click here for the link may seem like a great call to action, but it could alienate visitors that are using screen readers. The text doesn’t tell them anything about the link and doesn’t provide a good experience for the user.
When you hyperlink text, make sure that it properly describes where the link will go.
If you’re trying to encourage people to go to your contact us page, don’t use the text “Click the link to contact us” and attach the link to “click the link”.
Instead, write descriptive text before the link that tells the reader what to expect. “To submit a form or find our phone number, visit our contact us page” and link the text to “contact us page”.
Next Steps: Getting Help
The WCAG accessibility tips in this post can help you improve your website for accessibility, but it’s only a start. If you want to be truly compliant, you’ll want the help of some experts.
We can answer any questions about accessibility you may have and can help you make your website reach AAA compliance.
Be sure to contact us today so we can start your plan for total web accessibility.