Is your business online? Are you aware of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and whether or not your website is compliant? It’s important to stay up to date on accessibility standards in order to avoid any potential legal repercussions, plus it can open more doors for your customers!
So how do you achieve it? Getting a WCAG audit on your website or software is a good start. However, there are some things to keep in mind to avoid gaps in conformance. Keep reading as we take a look at the potential advantages and pitfalls of pursuing WCAG compliance.
Table of Contents
What is WCAG compliance?
WCAG compliance means that a website has been designed, developed and organized in such a way to meet the accessibility guidelines set forth by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines were created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to provide an international standard for ensuring web pages are accessible to people with disabilities.
The guidelines provide a set of conformance levels (A, AA and AAA), that specify the level of success a website has achieved for each accessibility aspect.
Level A is the minimum level of compliance, while AA and AAA represent increasingly higher levels of accessibility.
Released in June 2018, WCAG 2.1 is the most recent guidance. However, 2.2 is expected to be released in 2023.
What is WCAG used for?
To guarantee that everyone can enjoy a seamless online experience, WCAG guidelines are specifically designed to make websites accessible for ALL people. This includes making sure they’re navigable and usable by those who cannot use or see the mouse.
Is WCAG the same as ADA compliance?
No, WCAG and ADA compliance are not the same. The ADA is a U.S. law that mandates websites must meet its standards as laid out by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Making sure your website is in line with WCAG can help you comply with the ADA law and open up new opportunities to reach potential customers.
Is WCAG compliance required?
WCAG compliance is required for most websites, software applications and digital products in order to ensure that they are accessible for people with disabilities. A wide range of areas are covered in the guidelines, including:
- Website structure
- Text Formatting
- Color Contrast
- Audio/Visual Content
How To Comply With WCAG
Your business can ensure adherence to WCAG regulations by undergoing an accessibility audit. Through this process, all sections of your site or application are assessed to guarantee they meet the compliance standards of WCAG.
Conduct a web accessibility audit
A web accessibility audit is an assessment of how well your website and digital assets conform to the needs of people with disabilities and if you meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The audit identifies areas that need improvement and provides recommendations to be more accessible.
Audits can be conducted by in-house staff or by third-party organizations, such as TestPros. These evaluations may be performed with a manual assessment, with automated tools, or both. For complete results it’s recommended to partner with an expert who can use a combination of manual and automated assessment methods.
Let’s go into more detail on these two options for your organization.
1. Use automated compliance-checker tools
Web accessibility evaluation tools that can be used to check for compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These tools can be helpful by scanning your website to find some (but not all) of the issues with a website or application. This can give you an idea of where you stand – but keep in mind this method alone leaves you vulnerable to missing requirements and gaps in conformance.
2. Partner with an accessibility consultant
An accessibility consultant is someone who specializes in helping organizations create accessible websites and software applications. Consultants, such as TestPros, can provide a variety of services including manually testing for WCAG requirements. We help you identify all potential issues with your website or application and provide guidance on how to fix them.
The truth: automated tools are not enough
In general, compliance testing with assistive technologies and accessibility test tool software alone does not provide a complete evaluation. Automated tests can find some accessibility issues, but they are not able to find all of them. That’s why it’s important to work with an accessibility consultant who can combine a variety of testing methods.
Need help complying with WCAG?
Assessments, testing and remediation
How do you ensure compliance?
Working with a trusted accessibility expert is your best option. It’s important to combine automation tools with manual testing methods to conduct a full assessment. This way all success criteria are assessed.
TestPros tests to the standards, not to the tools. We use a best-practice approach that is defined by the Department of Homeland Security and their Trusted Tester Program.
We address all the WCAG standards and other applicable guidelines, including the following.
WCAG 2.1 Audits & Assessment Services
We are experts in a multi-step approach to digital accessibility that includes:
- Project Assessments
- Testing – Products, Mobile, PDF Documents, etc.
- Remediation – custom and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software source code
- Compliance – Documentation & Certification
- Ongoing Maintenance
Websites, software applications, mobile apps, and documents should undergo accessibility assessments before launching or any significant redesign. However, it is important to remember that content and applications are subject to constant changes.
TestPros can help you by implementing tools and processes to check the accessibility of your content on an ongoing basis. This will allow you to find issues such as broken links or other quality problems.
Reach WCAG Compliance with an Audit From TestPros
So, you want to ensure your website is WCAG compliant? We strongly recommend undergoing a full web accessibility audit with an experienced evaluation team like TestPros.
We’ve been helping organizations achieve WCAG compliance for over 30 years and have the experience and knowledge to help you too. Contact us below for more information – we would be happy to answer any of your questions!
Most frequent questions and answers
At this time, there is no specific legal requirement in the US that websites must meet WCAG accessibility guidelines. However, there are a number of laws and regulations which require WCAG compliance, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Businesses or organizations in the U.S. that must comply with these laws are required to conform to WCAG.
The Accessibility Guidelines Working Group has yet to finalize their guidelines in WCAG 2.2, so these are subject to alteration before they can be fully applied.
This publication is predicted for the early part of 2023. Several new success criteria have been incorporated into this version and updates were made on specific pre-existing ones, such as those associated with low vision or cognitive disabilities plus multi-device supportability.
To learn more about all changes included in WCAG 2.2 visit here!