In today’s digital world, websites are an integral part of businesses, organizations, and governments. However, not everyone can access the web in the same way. People with disabilities, such as visual, hearing, and cognitive impairments, face many barriers when trying to access online content. To ensure that digital content is accessible to all, web designers and developers must adhere to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
WCAG is a set of guidelines that was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium ( W3C ) to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. These guidelines are organized into three levels of compliance, which are Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA. The purpose of these levels is to ensure that web content is accessible to everyone, regardless of their level of disability. These levels build on each other, starting with WCAG A compliance, which only requires that a minimum level of alternatives be used to provide accessible solutions to possibly inaccessible media.
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Level A Compliance
Level A compliance is the minimum requirement for web accessibility. It includes the most basic and essential requirements for making content accessible. The Level A compliance ensures that web content is perceivable, operable, and understandable for users with disabilities. This means that content must be presented in a way that is easy to read and navigate, with clear and consistent headings, labels, and instructions. For example, if your website includes alt text descriptions for images, transcripts or captions for audio and video content, and descriptions of charts or diagrams for users who cannot see them, it will meet Level A compliance.
- Providing alt text descriptions for images and non-text content
- Providing text transcripts for audio and video content
- Using clear and concise language for headings and labels
- Making sure that web page elements are easily distinguishable from each other through visual cues or text labels
Level AA Compliance
Level AA compliance builds on Level A and includes more advanced guidelines to improve accessibility. It covers additional requirements for making content more user-friendly for people with disabilities, such as providing captions and audio descriptions for multimedia content, allowing resizable text and images, and ensuring clear instructions for using forms and input fields. This compliance ensures that web content is even more accessible and user-friendly for people with disabilities. For example, if your website meets the requirements, such as having all text with a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 with the background color, links and buttons that can be easily activated with a keyboard, and form fields that are labeled clearly and consistently, then it will meet Level AA compliance.
- Providing captions and audio descriptions for video content
- Making sure that color is not the only way that information is conveyed on the website
- Making sure that users can easily navigate and access content through keyboard controls
- Providing resizable text and images to allow users to adjust font size and image resolution
Level AAA Compliance
Level AAA compliance is the highest level of web accessibility compliance. It includes the most advanced guidelines for making content accessible. Level AAA compliance ensures that web content is as accessible as possible for people with disabilities. This means that web designers and developers must go above and beyond the minimum requirements for web accessibility. Level AAA compliance includes features such as sign language interpretation for multimedia content, keyboard shortcuts for navigation, and content that is optimized for a wide range of devices and technologies.
- Providing sign language interpretation for video content
- Making sure that users can access content using a variety of devices and technologies, such as screen readers or Braille displays
- Providing content in multiple languages or using a translation service
- Ensuring that content is optimized for different web browsers and assistive technologies.
WCAG compliance levels provide web designers and developers with clear guidelines for making web content accessible to all users. Adhering to these guidelines ensures that people with disabilities can access and use digital content with ease. While Level A compliance is the minimum requirement, adhering to Level AA and Level AAA compliance ensures that web content is even more accessible and user-friendly for people with disabilities. By designing and developing accessible websites, businesses and organizations can improve their online presence and provide equal access to all users, regardless of their abilities.
If you want to make sure your web content follows the Compliance Levels of accessibility, but you aren’t sure where to start, contact us. Our team of trained accessibility consultants can help you to navigate relevant guidelines and create a website that’s accessible now and for years to come.