The web is an amazing place to build projects and share your content – but if you’re not making accessible websites, you’re missing the point. Building things online opens your work up to the world – but only if you let them in.
Wuhcag is all about helping you make accessible websites. I’ll teach you how to meet important web accessibility benchmarks like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) and how to think accessible first. You’ll see that making accessible websites isn’t as hard or as technical as you think.
Better web accessibility can:
- broaden your user base
- make your website work better for all of your users
- comply with equality and anti-discrimination law
- do something positive for the world
You can do these things by learning how to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.
What is web accessibility?
Web accessibility means making websites work for people of all abilities. Some people with disabilities use assistive technologies to look at your website. These technologies might read aloud the text of your website, convert it to Braille, magnify it, or various other things. Some of your users rely on this technology. If your website doesn’t play nicely, your users can’t interact with you.
As well as using technology, some of your users might need different ways to understand your content. If you have audio or video on your website, you should offer transcripts or captions for your users with hearing difficulties. Your images should have a text alternative – something that shows up if your users choose not to view images. There are plenty more areas that need including too, from making sure your links make sense to the colours you use.
A higher percent of your users than you think will have some form of disability. If you really want to serve as many people as possible, you need to take web accessibility seriously.
Web accessibility is a confusing place for the uninitiated, that’s where WCAG comes in.
I’m joking of course. WCAG is confusing for the initiated and uninitiated alike. But what they stand for is vital. WCAG creates a standard for web accessibility. The guidelines are a common benchmark for making websites useful to everyone on the planet.
My aim is to simplify web accessibility by taking every single WCAG guideline and explaining the advice in your language. In the book I wrote, I shortened over 700 pages of technical jargon into 100 pages of clear and concise advice. If meeting WCAG is on your agenda, I urge you to have a look at the book.
Section 508 compliance
Section 508 is an American standard, used by government websites to make sure they are accessible to all. The standard is also required of agencies who tender for government contracts. Section 508 is currently undergoing a ‘refresh’ by the powers that be, but the expected result is to map the regulation to the Level AA standard of WCAG.
Until the refresh, meeting Level AA of WCAG is more than enough to make sure Section 508 compliance.
A better website for everyone
Web accessibility and WCAG don’t just benefit your users with disabilities, they make your website better for everyone visiting it. The basis of accessibility is a clean, clear and responsive website – something that everyone can get behind. Many WCAG requirements will help your users with slow internet connections, old browsers and old devices. While the world is becoming more and more connected, many people still use old technology to browse the web.
This is especially important if you are thinking about international markets. Many people in developing countries have access to the web only through devices with small screens, limited multimedia capacity or slow download speeds. Addressing web accessibility will help these users interact with you too.
Web accessibility and the law
Laws are notoriously slow to keep up with technology, but times are changing. Equality and anti-discrimination law that applies to physical businesses, can also be applied online too. You wouldn’t dream of turning a person with a disability away from your doorstep, so why should you turn them away from your website?
Recent years have seen an increase in legal cases brought by charities against companies with bad web accessibility. This trend will continue as those companies reach out of court settlements and promise to improve their websites. Acting early might save you a lot of money in the long-term.
Just be nice
So now you know the business reasons for web accessibility (more users, happier users) and the legal reasons. Why are you still reading? There are no better reasons for you to start browsing the guidelines now!
There is one more reason, if you’re still not convinced – that feeling you get when you’re doing something good with your time. So far, I’ve explained why it makes great business sense to improve accessibility by meeting WCAG. But you don’t need to have a website that makes money to see the value of accessibility. Whatever you have, a blog, portfolio or the next Facebook, making it accessible is a wonderful thing to do.
WCAG is the most recognised web accessibility standard in the world. Use them to make your website as good as possible.
Now you know that, it’s time to start here.