WCAG compliance is a necessity because it can improve website performance

by Emily on November 29, 2018

in Articles

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Americans’ with Disabilities Act (ADA) have many things in common especially with respect to making websites accessible to those with disabilities. The guidelines of WCAG resemble the stipulations of ADA even though there is enough confusion about the latter that make organizations and website owners raise the question   do websites have to be ADA compliant? The question seems very pertinent because of the lack of clarity in the laws has resulted in numerous court cases that have seen the mixed outcome. Some rulings went in favor of website owners not complying with ADA and some against them leaving things open to more confusion.

Since the WCAG guidelines emphasize the need to make websites accessible to those with disabilities, it resonates the spirit of ADA that reflects in WCAG 2.0 published in 2008 and then again in WCAG 2.1 published in June 2018. As global regulations are necessitating the adherence to WCAG, it appears that website owners are already on their way in meeting the ADA requirements albeit the confusion and debate about its applicability for websites. 

For whom is WCAG relevant?

Since the issue of compliance with WCAG or ADA revolves around website accessibility which is a function of the website design, it becomes clear that WCAG is relevant for web developers and designers in the first place. It is also intended for developers engaged in creating web authoring tools and web accessibility evaluation tools. WCAG creates a standard for mobile accessibility too. Related resources aim at meeting the needs of many different people like policymakers and managers together with researchers and others.  If you are a website owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that everyone has easy accessibility to your website failing which you could be on the wrong side of the law. 

WCAG is a technical standard

As website accessibility is a technical issue unless someone discriminates intentionally, addressing the technicalities could improve things. With this understanding, WCAG has created a technical standard captured in the documents, and it will be wrong to look upon it as an introduction to accessibility.  Both versions of WCAG are stable technical standards that people can use as a reference. The standard features 12 guidelines that come under the categories of Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust which the industry labels as POUR.

  • Perceivable– When users face issues that affect their ability to find and process information on a website, such issues belong to the perceivable category.
  • Operable – Issues related to navigation that hinder users from moving around the website conveniently are operable issues.
  • Understandable – This category includes issues related to user’s ability to differentiate and understand all information and navigation on a website like unclear error messages appearing on the site that lack clarity and understanding.
  • Robust – The issues arising from a website’s inability to adapt and evolve in meeting the expectations of disabled users belong to this category.

Since being WCAG compliant means providing better user experience, it becomes a necessity for website owners to match the standards. 

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