WCAG 2.1 AA Web Accessibility
Web Accessibility Facts
- Website accessibility primarily addresses disabilities related to vision, motor skills, mobility, hearing, and seizures.
- All organizations are required by law to provide accessible websites. However, certain types of businesses may have a greater legal imperative to do so.
- Section 508 accessibility requirements for government-funded organizations and contractors are now the more stringent WCAG 2.1 AA standards.
- Section 508 accessibility requirements (WCAG 2.1 AA) apply to all Federal Government organizations, and organizations that receive funding from, contract with, or sell to the Federal Government.
- Google is blind, deaf, and can’t use a mouse. Bringing a site into WCAG 2.1 AA compliance can also benefit the site’s ability to be understood by all users and indexed by search engines.
Approximately 1 out of 10 individuals have a disability that impairs their ability to use computers. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws require that websites are coded to the WCAG 2.1 AA standards to ensure maximum usability for all.
Risingline's Web Accessibility Services
We provide both consulting and site auditing services, as well as direct development and compliance services through a trained web accessibility developer.
Consulting and Auditing Services
For clients who have existing in-house or contracted developers, we can provide audits of your site with detailed action item reports, as well as facilitate the certification process to whatever degree required. For our consulting services, we recuse Risingline from being considered as a direct service provider to ensure our recommendations are objective—in other words, you won't be paying us to sell you our services.
Compliance Development Services
We provide full compliance development services in-house as well for those clients who do not have a current web development vendor. We can include accessibility validation and certification as components of a new website project, or we can (in many cases) modify your current site to meet online validation standards.
For more information on our services please contact us at (208) 352.0775 or through our online form
Background and Overview
Until recently, accessible web coding standards and the Department of Justice's enforcement policy were not well established.
Today, a comprehensive set of accessibility technical standards have been established, The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and legal enforcement of the standards has increased (please see the links at the bottom of this page for more detailed information).
Which websites are required to be compliant?
All websites are required to be compliant; however, certain websites may have more impetus for doing so including organizations that receive Federal Government funding, contract or sell to the government, as well as high-traffic commercial websites.
What's the Difference Between Section 508 WCAG 2.1 AA Compliance?
"Section 508" refers to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which requires Federal electronic media to be accessible to those with disabilities. As mentioned, it also applies to Federally funded and Federal contractors. In addition, many state governments have 508 requirements.
Section 508 standards are in the process of adopting WCAG 2.1 AA with an expected official transition sometime in 2017 meaning the two evaluation criteria are now one in the same.
Validation and Certification for WCAG Compliance
There are two basic approaches to address compliance: online validation and third-party certification.
A qualified web development vendor will be able to code and validate against WCAG standards using resources such as Utah State University’s WebAIM online tool. This is the most basic method to address web accessibility and is a service that Risingline can provide when developing a new site or auditing an existing site.
There is no industry standard or universal certification that a website is officially and unquestionably accessible. The most comprehensive approach to ensure compliance is to receive a compliance certification from a credible organization. Such organizations have accessibility experts who audit sites and conduct human testing by disabled individuals in a lab setting. There is a cost for these certifications as well as a cost for your development vendor to implement required changes prior to certification. A site is submitted for certification typically after it has first gone through the process of being validated online by a qualified developer.
Caution is recommended when selecting a third party to use for site accessibility certification. There are some organizations that promote themselves as accessibility experts who may lack authority and credibility, and overcharge for their services.
Risingline recommends Utah State University’s nonprofit WebAIM program for website accessibility certification. WebAIM is one of the longest established web accessibility organizations and is considered by most in the industry to be authoritative and credible. Their certifications are also considerably less expensive than many for-profit certification firms.
Accessibility Compliance and Content Management
WCAG compliance is an ongoing process. When new content is added, or a site is modified WCAG standards must be implemented for those changes, and site certification revalidated. This presents a special area of concern for sites that are not professionally maintained and updated. For clients who utilized a Content Management System like WordPress to make their own content updates, those content managers will need to receive training in WCAG accessibility compliance and validation and/or certification review will need to be done after each content update.
- Risingline—WCAG and Section 508 Website Accessibility
- WebAIM—Introduction to Web Accessibility
- W3C—Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview
- United States Access Board, access-board.gov—Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Final Standards and Guidelines
- W3C—How to Meet WCAG 2.1
- Law360—Trending: ADA Website Accessibility Lawsuits
- WebAIM—Introduction to U.S. Laws
- American Bar Association—Website Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities: The Why & How
- American Bar Association—Most Websites Are Not ADA Compliant: Is Yours One Of Them? (pdf)