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11 May 2020
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WCAG - why it is worth having an accessible website, web systems and mobile app

Have you ever wondered how blind and disabled people use websites? Standard activities that we perform on a daily basis on the Internet are difficult or even completely inaccessible for people with disabilities. That is why WCAG criteria for digital services are crucial. Making a bank transfer, searching for information on official websites or making an online medical appointment lasts only a while, but only if the page is accessible. What does it mean in practice? This means that the site has the appropriate features that allow each user – including people with disabilities  – to navigate.

The potential of the Internet for people with disabilities remains largely unused. Discover new business possibilities and create a friendly web environment for everyone setting high innovative user standards and   approach to every clients by implementing accessibility.

WCAG: a step towards accessibility

Web Accessibility defines standards of compliance for:

  • Websites
  • Tools
  • Technologies
  • Apps

So that people with disabilities could use them. It refers to design, development and usability and concerns all types of disabilities:

  • auditory
  • cognitive
  • neurological
  • physical
  • speech
  • visual

Each of us may someday need WCAG. This standard helps the elderly, who may have problems with reading on small smartphone screens. It also helps people with “temporary disabilities” such as a broken arm or eye problems, as well as those who have slow Internet connection or limited or expensive bandwidth. Surprising but true. When most of us can’t imagine living or working   without the internet, some may still have problems with using the Internet and all digital features.

Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) developed WCAG ( Web Content Accessibility Guidelines ) to provide and structure standards for worldwide compliance. It provides developers with specified sets of directives enabling web accessibility.

These guidelines are being continuously developed and improved, so the latest information are available here: https://www.w3.org/WAI/. For instance, you will find news about success criteria WCAG 2.2 there and learn about actual WCAG 2.1 specifications.

Web Accessibility Laws and Policies

Is website accessibility obligatory? Not really. WCAG standards are usually mandatory when it comes to public organizations. Law and policies may differ depending on the country in which you run your business . Nevertheless, it is a good practice, no matter where your company is located. Having a website accessible to all users, you can reach a larger audience, increase competitiveness on the market and find new potential customers. This will also perfectly match your corporate social responsibility strategy (CSR)! 

Here, you will find lists of governmental laws and policies relating to web accessibility in countries and regions around the world: https://www.w3.org/WAI/policies/

However, remember to check out the latest government regulations in your country. In particularly, not implementing the WCAG standards may result in a financial penalty.

For example, in U.S. federal, state, and local government websites must follow WCAG directions.

Europe updated EU Web Accessibility Directive which made all public sector websites and applications in EU member states implement, follow up and maintain accessibility standards and legal penalties.  

Implementation of WCAG standards

When creating a new website, implementing accessibility standards is not a problem nor does it increase costs. A website or application can be accessible as well as functional and visually attractive. The valuation of such a website depends on the technology and solutions chosen, and the design of appropriate functionalities for people with disabilities doesn’t require additional costs.

The situation is more complicated when you customize an existing page or app. It starts with an audit that defines accessibility problems and identifies the necessary changes.

Based on the audit, a valuation of implementing changes on the website or in the application is being planned. The audit before making any changes is important because, in some cases, it might turn out that the price of customizing a website would exceed the cost of designing a totally new, accessible page.

WCAG contains 49 formal accessibility criteria ordered in accordance with 4 principles:

  • Perceptivity
  • Functionality
  • Intelligibility
  • Compatibility

The website or application must meet these standards in order to be considered accessible. This means that it is not possible to install a special plug-in or an add-on to simply make the site fulfill the accessibility criteria.

Accessible design – 10 principle guidelines:

Most of these principles can be implement without any harm to visual brand identification and design. We present keys guides below, but that’s just a scrap of WCAG standards. Carrying them out, however, does not guarantee accessibility in accordance with WCAG.

  1. Provide an equal alternative text – mostly for non-text content and elements
  2. Create logical documents structure – headings, lists and other structural elements – they provide structure and enable keyboard navigation.
  3. Ensure users can complete and submit all the forms.
  4. Don’t forget about headers for data tables
  5. All links should make sense when reading out of context – avoid phrases such as “click here” and “more” 
  6. Use captions and transcript for videos and audios.
  7. Provide accessibility of PDF, Word, PowerPoint and any other non-HTML content.
  8. Enable skipping of repetitive elements on the page
  9. Colors cannot alone convey meaning.
  10. Deliver clear content and choose clear fonts, lists and headings.

Working on accessibility will also require more technical changes, but the reward will be worth an effort and due to these changes you will expand market of customers often excluded by your competitors whose applications and websites do not meet WCAG requirements. Furthermore, your company will gain a strong image of a socially responsible company that takes care of equal opportunities for everyone.

Make your business stand out by introducing good practices

However, although the law usually imposes mandatory implementation of accessibility for public and governmental institutions, it is worth considering this solution also for commercial enterprises. Online shopping, ordering food or booking tickets to the cinema via a mobile app are services that should be accessible to everyone.

Strong business needs in compliance with ensuring the best user experience and satisfaction were highlighted. We pay attention to UX and spent a lot of time on improvement and creating best features. WCAG gives your business clear standards and explains how to build systems, tools, technologies, websites and apps that will be useful in various situations, on different devices and for the whole spectrum of users. Accessibility boosts yours business possibilities and drives innovation, extend your market reach and gives people equal education, commerce, employment, government, health care, recreation and self-development opportunities. Creating accessible web content, you give people the possibility to overcome and break through their barriers.

For companies, this is a chance to increase their competitiveness on the market and a big step towards developing business responsibility (CSR).  

 

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