To understand the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), you have to take a step back to when the web was still in its infancy. Picture this: it’s 1989 (lots of hair spray, neon colors, popped collars are rampant) and Tim Berners-Lee and his team at CERN invented the “World Wide Web.” Pretty amazing, when you think about it. A few years later, in 1994, Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as a governing body of the internet.
What does the World Wide Web (W3C) Consortium actually do?
Glad you asked! Since its inception, the W3C has taken it upon itself to create ongoing “web standards,” which were put in place to ensure that regardless of browser, device, content, and other elements, the web browsing experience would remain relatively consistent. You can think of web standards as “W3C guidelines” encompass every part of the digital experience, from web design and applications, web architecture, XML, accessibility, and more. By adhering to these website accessibility standards, your users will have the best possible chance for a consistent experience.
When you’re talking specifically about web accessibility standards, however, they fall under the purview of a W3C enterprise called the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
Web standards and accessibility
One of the WAI products are guidelines for accessibility called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. WCAG standards are made up of success criteria for developers and designers to follow when creating digital content. It is currently on its third iteration, WCAG 2.1., which encompasses all previous versions’ criteria as well as some additional criteria geared towards mobile content and cognitive usability.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are universally acknowledged accessibility standards. Conform to these guidelines and you’ll decrease your chances for any negative legal action and improve your website’s usability, not just for people with disabilities, but for everyone.
A WCAG 2.0 checklist from the W3C is available to help you get a better grasp of the concept of web accessibility.
If you’re looking for an official seal of approval that your digital content is fully accessible, well, unfortunately you’ll be looking for a long time. Just as no website can ever be fully bug-free, no website can ever be fully accessible to every possible user in every situation. However, what we can do is help your organization’s digital content reasonably conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – to the extent that most users will be able to access the content without difficulty. Contact TPGi today to learn more about how we can help your organization’s digital content conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.