Web Accessibility: Giving access to everyone
The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.
—Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
Making the web accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities, is central to its purpose and a critical input for content publishers and web developers alike. At RubensteinTech, we are focused on adhering to, as well as supporting and improving, web accessibility standards.
WCAG 2.1 recommendations have been released!
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has released updated recommendations that extend Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”) version 2.0 to 2.1. The newest guidelines include recommendations on formatting, e.g., line height, and letter-word spacing, as well as hover and focus states, character key shortcuts, pointer gestures, status messages, and more, primarily intended to improve accessibility guidance for three major groups: users with cognitive or learning disabilities, users with low vision, and users with disabilities on mobile devices.
WCAG is “backwards compatible”, meaning that web pages conforming to the 2.1 recommendations also conform to 2.0. Tools are still emerging and the 2.1 recommendations are not required by the revised U.S. Federal Section 508 standards. However, we expect that accessibility guidelines will continue to evolve, so—if compliance is a priority to you and your team—please feel free to reach out to us with questions.
How does RubensteinTech help to ensure web accessibility?
As part of client engagements, as well as ongoing support and maintenance, we can advise on and implement according to WCAG 2.0 and 2.1, including levels A, AA, and AAA. The W3C resource outlines global standards and, combined with tools like SiteImprove and the Google Chrome plug-in, can keep your site in compliance.
While each increasing level (e.g., A-AAA) requires additional effort, and therefore expense, the more rigor applied increases the assurance that your digital properties are more widely and easily accessible.
What happens if we don’t implement web accessibility standards?
If you elect to do nothing, or if accessibility isn’t a high priority, users with disabilities will potentially have limited access to your web content.
Modern browsers like Chrome and Safari do have robust accessibility tools, making default settings more accessible than not; but, ultimately these browsers are reliant on the development teams implementing according to their “necessary guidelines,” which may not strictly adhere to “official” WCAG guidelines.
What are the laws and regulations around accessibility standards?
In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) outlines regulations, using the WCAG guidelines to inform accessibility standards and requirements. Internationally, the European Commission published a European Accessibility Act in 2015, which establishes “common accessibility requirements for certain key products and services to [help those with disabilities] at EU level to participate fully in society."
Our recommendations on accessibility and compliance
For existing clients, we recommend conducting a scan of your existing website against the appropriate version and level of the WCAG standard every six months. Based on the results, RubensteinTech can fix identified issues as well as advise on items that may have been flagged as issues but are deemed sufficient.
For new or prospective clients, we recommend including WCAG implementation as part of your project’s scope. This will ensure that your digital initiatives are fully accessible at launch.
For more information, please visit the following:
- Web Accessibility: The Benefits & Consequences of Compliance
- Four Steps to Improve the Accessibility of Your Website
- WCAG 2.1 at a Glance
- Section 508 (Federal Web Content)
- WCAG 2.0 (Checklist)
- W3C Guidelines
- Digital Single Market
- On The Accessibility of the Website and Mobile Publications of Public Sector Bodies
- European Accessibility Act Press Release