Friday, May 31, 2019
Several weeks ago, we explored the evolution of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the application of this law to internet properties. While formal guidelines have yet to be issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 have emerged as the standard for developing accessible web properties and should be referenced in the design and development process.
There are four main principles in the WCAG 2.0 that provide a foundation for website accessibility: perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.
In this series, we’ll take a deep dive into each principle and share important considerations in creating an accessible website. First up: perceivable.
*It’s important to note that when we discuss those with auditory or visual disabilities throughout this series, we are not only speaking of those with the most commonly known disabilities, such as deafness and blindness. Other auditory and visual disabilities include colorblindness, and partial hearing and vision loss. Other factors that may impact one’s ability to access content on your website may include reading disabilities, a language barrier, a slow internet connection and limited access to small screens on handheld devices.
The list below is not intended to be an all-inclusive guide for website developers. Instead, it simply explores how some common website elements can be modified for greater accessibility.*
According to the WCAG 2.0, under this principle, “information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.” In other words, the content on your website must be presented in a way that visitors can easily consume and interact with the information. The content on your website must be available in multiple forms with distinguishable page elements for visual and hearing impairments. Below are the guidelines that website developers and designers must keep in mind in order to create an accessible website.
Under this guideline, you should “provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.”
Non-text content refers to images, emoticons, graphs, artwork, buttons and forms. For those that are unable to view non-text content on a page, you must develop alternative ways to make this content accessible.
Under this guideline, you should “provide alternatives for time-based media.” Time-based media refers to audio or visuals that are prerecorded or live.
Under this guideline, you should “create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.”
If a page on a website is altered, the structure of the content should not change (i.e. the reading sequence will remain the same). Individuals have the ability to change the appearance of the computer screen to better fit their needs, such as zooming in on the page. You must ask yourself: when all of the styling is gone on the page, is the content still clear in structure?
Under this guideline, you should “make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.”
There must be a clear distinction between the foreground and background content on the page.
You can check your website’s accessibility here. Next up, we’ll dive deeper into Principle 2: operable.