What You Need To Know About Web Accessibility: Part Two
As mentioned in part one of this article, making sure your website or apps are accessible is an important part to helping your business grow. There are certain guidelines that the American Disability Act (ADA) requires, so everyone can access the internet. The ADA requires websites to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which was created to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities and more usable in general. The WCAG has three levels of compliance: A, AA, and AAA. Each level has guidelines that websites must follow to be accessible and as you go up the levels, the guidelines become more complex. This is what each level requires for websites to be accessible to everybody.
The first level is the “minimal compliance level.” It requires basic accessibility features and prohibits anything that would make a website completely inaccessible. Some of the main accessibility features this level requires are no keyboard traps, navigable with only a keyboard, video captions, non-text content alternatives, and meaning that is not conveyed through shape, size, color etc. alone. If your website does not meet the requirements of this level, it would be very difficult or nearly impossible for people with disabilities to use it.
For your website to reach the second level, you must meet all of the requirements for the first level plus additional criteria. This level is commonly used in accessibility rules and regulations around the world since it is the most usable and understandable for everyone, with or without a disability. It is the “acceptable compliance level.” Throughout your website, the features must be labeled properly and the functionality must match the label to comply to this level. Some of the major accessibility features in this level are navigation is consistent throughout the site, headings are used in logical order, alt text or a similar solution is used for images that convey meaning, form fields have accurate labels, status updates can be conveyed through a screen reader, and color contrast is at least 4.5:1.
The third and last level is the “optimal compliance level.” It has the most amount of accessibility features and is accessible to the maximum number of users, making your website easy to use for everyone. For your website to reach this level, it must meet the criteria for both of the previous levels plus additional criteria. It would be ideal for your website to reach this level of conformance since it is accessible to more users, but it is not always possible. W3 explains, “it is not recommended that Level AAA conformance be required as a general policy for entire sites because it is not possible to satisfy all Level AAA Success Criteria for some content.”
If you are able to meet all of the requirements for this level, it would show your customers that you are considerate of their needs and they will notice since many websites are not accessible. Some of the main accessibility features for this level are sign language interpretation for audio or video content, timing is not an essential part of any activity, color contrast is at least 7:1 in most instances, and context-sensitive help is available. By putting as many accessibility features as you can in your website, you will reach more loyal customers and build a company that cares about everyone.