Accessibility is now becoming a standard requirement for most business and government websites. Globally, companies are ensuring their websites are accessible to reach out to the maximum number of people and to comply with universal standards set by the POUR principles. Learn more about what is accessibility, the WCAG and how it can benefit all users and businesses in our ready reckoner below.
What is Accessibility
Accessibility in IT specifically refers to designing the software and hardware to be read, understood and navigated easily by everyone, regardless of disability, location, experience or technology. Within tech and design, disability is now being seen not just as a personal or health issue but also as being context-dependent. A person could be facing permanent, temporary or situational disability that would hinder access to the web.
For example, persons with visual impairment, or persons temporarily impaired due to cataract or situationally impaired due to driving a car will all face difficulty reading from a screen. Web designers and developers commonly use what is called a ‘persona spectrum’ to understand related limitations across a spectrum of disabilities, permanent, temporary and situational.
Designing web content to be accessible to people with disabilities often benefits all users. An example of this is in operating systems which have display modification options like magnification. Another example is text-to-speech in videos that helps all users better understand what is being said. Accessible content and design also help screen readers navigate the website more easily.
What is WCAG
Accessibility guidelines are set by the World Wide Web Consortium, (W3C) which determines the protocols and standards like HTML, CSS and so on. They published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0 and 2.0) that developers and designers the world over follow. For example, the US has Section 508 that government and educational institutes are mandated to follow.
WCAG 1.0 which was set in 1999, provided guidelines to determine the accessibility of a web page. In 2009, WCAG 2.0 was introduced. The guidelines of WCAG 2.0 are now principle-centered rather than technique-centered, which allows them to be relevant through technological advances. Organizations that are planning to comply with WCAG have the option of setting their compliance at A, AA or AAA levels.
WCAG 2.0 has 4 principles, commonly known as POUR, under which specific guidelines are organized-
This principle focuses on the idea that people need to be able to perceive web content. It presents guidelines on how websites, applications, and gadgets can be designed in a way to make it easily perceivable by sight, sound, touch. For example, background colors and contrast for a screen to make content easy to read, text-to-speech and so on. Another key idea mentioned here is transferability – this means that information should be converted into a format which makes it easy to perceive, such as an audio or Braille format.
This principle is a guide to ensure users should be able to find, navigate through, and interact with web content. Keyboard accessibility is one of the important aspects of web accessibility as it often poses a problem for people with varying disabilities. Web content that is dependent on the mouse for navigation can be difficult for many people to access, especially those who use mouth sticks or have trouble with fine motor control or visual impairments.
This principle, apart from input methods, also looks at how accessibility can influence interaction methods, user control over timing and error recovery abilities – so that more people can easily navigate the web.
This principle provides guidelines on how content can be made easier to understand for all users. For example, it recommends providing alternative or supplemental representations of information. It also suggests that text can be supplemented with illustrations, video, and audio. The website/app should also be clear in its functionality – users should be able to understand how to navigate it with clear instructions and guidance where required.
This principle focuses on design that is functional across current and future technologies. People use different browsers, screens, and operating systems. Some may have advanced features enabled or disabled on their phones. When they find that they are unable to access something, they may be frustrated and not return to the website or app. The idea behind this principle is that the user should be able to choose their own technology when accessing web content.
Accessibility is good for all
Having an accessible website or app is beneficial to everyone. It helps businesses reach out to the maximum number of people, regardless of their abilities and tech expertise. It not only helps users with disabilities access the web but also helps users with temporary or situational difficulties.
Connect with us to find out more about how your business can be more accessible. Tricon Infotech provides end-to-end accessibility services that comply with WCAG 2.0 guidelines. Our accessibility services include consultation, audit, design, implementation, and training. Contact us to learn more.