Sam Graves

Significance of WCAG Compliance for Organizations

At Allyant, we often discuss the need for websites and mobile applications to be “WCAG compliant.” But what does it mean to be “WCAG compliant?” 

This blog post will answer that question and provide background on the WCAG and who needs to follow it.

What is WCAG?

The Web Accessibility Initiative, a W3C project, developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The W3C is an international organization responsible for modern web standards such as HTML and CSS. The Web Accessibility Initiative specifically focuses on digital accessibility. The guidelines were developed “with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.”

WCAG 2.0 was released in 2008 and was updated to include 12 guidelines and 61 success criteria to assess digital accessibility, allowing for far more flexibility.

Another update, WCAG 2.1, was released in 2018 and included an additional guideline and 17 new success criteria.

Finally, WCAG 2.2 was released in October 2023, adding nine success criteria. WCAG 2.2 contains 13 guidelines and 86 success criteria (one WCAG 2.1 success criterion was removed from 2.2).

The WCAG has four overarching principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. There are three compliance levels: A, AA, and AAA. Level AA, the second-highest compliance level, is considered industry best practice.

Organizations should focus on meeting A and AA success criteria and guidelines, and not necessarily worry about AAA.

What type of content does the WCAG apply to?

The WCAG applies to a wide range of digital content, not just websites. It also applies to mobile and web applications and electronic documents. For example, the guidelines apply to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF documents.

Also, the WCAG is often applied as a standard for content when no other standard exists.

Although we think of websites when the term “WCAG” is used, WCAG applies to all kinds of electronic content.

Who needs to comply with the WCAG?

Since the WCAG obviously applies to websites, web content designers are required to comply with the WCAG. This includes site designers, page authors, etc. Developers of web authoring tools such as Adobe Dreamweaver and WordPress must also follow these guidelines.

Website accessibility evaluation tools, such as Allyant’s HUB Accessibility Management System, must also be WCAG compliant.

Since the WCAG applies to mobile and document accessibility, mobile app developers, document developers, etc., must also follow the guidelines.

How do I comply to WCAG?

To achieve WCAG compliance, organizations must satisfy each WCAG success criteria across each guideline.

For example, websites must include alternative text for each meaningful image so that screen readers can read image content (1.1.1). Also, all functionality within digital content must be accessible to users who can only use a keyboard (2.1.1).

If digital content violates any WCAG success criteria, that content is not WCAG compliant.

Although WCAG 2.2 has been released, WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 are still valid and widely recognized web accessibility standards. It could be several months or even years before 2.2 is legally required.

At Allyant, we recommend organizations start by aiming for 2.0 compliance and work from there. If your organization is already compliant with WCAG 2.0 and 2.1, consider getting a 2.2 audit to help your organization become compliant with the most recent WCAG edition.

WCAG and automated accessibility solutions

Automated web accessibility solutions can seem tempting as a quick way to become WCAG compliant. Beware of these tools! It is generally accepted that these tools typically identify only 25-35% of WCAG violations.

How will an automated tool determine whether an image is meaningful and, therefore, needs alternative text?

That is why Allyant offers live-user digital accessibility testing to ensure accurate, WCAG-compliant results.

Allyant and WCAG compliance

Automated web accessibility solutions can seem tempting as a quick way to become WCAG compliant. Beware of these tools! It is generally accepted that these tools typically identify only 25-35% of WCAG violations.

How will an automated tool determine whether an image is meaningful and, therefore, needs alternative text?

That is why Allyant offers live-user digital accessibility testing to ensure accurate, WCAG-compliant results.

Don’t wait to get started on the path to WCAG compliance! Contact us to request a digital accessibility audit or general questions about WCAG compliance.

Book - Accessibility Audit

Fields marked with an * are required.

Name
Name
First
Last