Is your website WCAG-compliant? If yes, well done!
If not, then you better start thinking of adhering to this gold standard for website accessibility. Not complying with WCAG can lead to expensive lawsuits. So, learn what WCAG is and the top reasons to stick to these technical guidelines!
Web accessibility is not only vital for providing the best user experience to your site visitors but has also become a concern of the government.
The government has enacted laws for the accessibility of apps and websites. WCAG has become one of the prime web accessibility parameters now.
A site with difficulty in accessibility can lead to legal risks and fines. A renowned brand Dominos Pizza was sued by a blind man as the website wasn’t accessible for him to order pizza online. The man won the case and was compensated for not getting digital accessibility.
According to the US Census Bureau data from 2021, nearly 42.5 million people are disabled in the United States of America. This figure includes disabilities in vision, hearing, walking, cognitive, self-care, mobility issues, and independent living.
Making your website WCAG-compliant ensures that all types of internet users including individuals with disabilities can easily access your website content and enjoy exceptional user experience.
To know more about this concept, let’s understand what WCAG is and why websites should be WCAG-compatible.
Understanding WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines)
WCAG or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is an internationally recognized gold standard created by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) in May 1999. WCAG is a vital asset for organizations, companies, and businesses that offer digital content accessible to the people.
WCAG is a set of technical guidelines that educates to make apps, websites, and other digital attributes accessible to people with different kinds of disabilities across the world. The United States has enacted two laws i.e. Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and ADA (Americans with Disabilities).
More than 8694 lawsuits were filed against different digital content for non-accessibility issues in 2022. This highlighted the vitality of the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) website compliance.
ADA website compliance is one of the vital sets of standards that have to be followed by state and local government agencies, public benefit companies, private businesses with 15 or more employees, etc. for accessibility of electronic and information technology such as websites and the internet. Also, many WordPress accessibility plugins have made it easy for website owners to offer seamless web experiences to all types of users including those with disabilities.
WCAG provides a wealth of guidelines that are followed by content authors, developers, and web designers to make digital content navigational for users with disabilities. Here is a list of some examples of WCAG guidelines.
- All images on the website should include ALT text (alternative text), so individuals who are blind can understand its description accurately.
- On-page text should support magnification or zoom-in, so people with vision disability can enlarge the text and read it easily.
- Web components like headers, footers, navigation, and sidebars should appear on each webpage in the same location.
- Users should be able to easily navigate the website without having to use the mouse.
- Form entry or filling should have no time limits, so people with disabilities get more time to fill out the forms.
- Chat facility for individuals with speech impairment to enable them to send text messages for required customer support.
WCAG: Understanding Four Principles and Levels
WCAG is broken down into 4 principles which have been in force since 2008. It will be useful and run for many coming years. The following principles share aspects of making a site accessible for all users including people with disabilities.
Being perceivable in a website means the senses people use when navigating the site. Some of the website visitors might have difficulties with one or multiple senses. The perceivable principle of WCAG enables such users to browse the site easily.
The major senses that people use to browse any website are sound, touch, and sight. WCAG-compliant websites ensure that all types of users can easily perceive all sorts of information on your business site.
Being operable on a website means the actions that people usually take on your website. The operable principle of WCAG includes the methods that people use to browse a website. People with motor disabilities can use the keyboard to browse the website. Also, some users with sight impairment prefer using a keyboard over a mouse.
This principle emphasizes making a site operable in terms of providing easy keyboard navigation and avoiding setting limits for filing up a form online or helping users if they make a mistake.
Being understandable on a website is a mixture of both the above-mentioned principles i.e. perceivable and operable. This principle focuses on making a site understandable for every type of user. It should have clear instructions and straightforward terms, and complex topics should be explained properly. A website should not have inconsistent, complex, or unusual functions.
Being robust means your website should meet recognized standards like clean CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). The robust principle of WCAG focuses on minimizing the risk of reliance on technology for all types of users including people with disabilities.
WCAG is divided into three levels of compliance as follows:
- WCAG Level A: This is the basic level of compliance that affect extensive group but some barriers impact certain user groups.
- WCAG Level AA: This level of compliance is negotiated in legal settlements and adopted in regulations.
- WCAG Level AAA: This is the highest level of compliance that includes success criteria of all three WCAG levels. However, this level is not applicable in all circumstances.
Top 07 Reasons to Make Your Website WCAG-compliant
Now you have understood what WCAG is and its different levels and major principles, let’s quickly take a look at the top reasons why you should make your website WCAG-compliant.
Avoid Expensive Lawsuits
Web accessibility is one of the civil rights of individuals with different types of disabilities. According to the ADA, people with disabilities have an equal right to enjoy and access public services. Although ADA is not directly related to web accessibility for disabled people, this law applies to digital properties.
The US Department of Justice has stated that difficulty or lack of accessibility in websites is a violation of Americans with Disabilities law. Around 2387 web accessibility lawsuits were filed against different websites in 2022 which was 814 five years ago. If you want to avoid getting involved in expensive litigations and prevent claims of discrimination, make sure that your site adheres to the guidelines of WCAG.
Making your website compliant with WCAG not only makes it accessible for people with disabilities but also improves your site’s usability and overall user experience. For example, if you make your website navigational without the use of a mouse, a person with physical disabilities can easily access your site.
A website that is navigable or accessible with a keyboard not only offers convenience for disabled individuals but also be beneficial for a huge user base. This will yield long-term advantages for your business because your website usability will be improved, as well the customer loyalty.
Another example is including ALT text for images on your website. This improves the general usability of the site as disabled individuals can understand what your content is all about even with a slow internet speed.
Development of Brand
A recent survey has affirmed that 62% of people prefer those brands that are taking a stand on rising issues and 47% are willing to stop purchasing from those companies whose actions are not aligned with their words. This percentage can go up as Gen Z occupies the marketplace more.
Therefore, when you adhere to the rules and regulations, it sends a positive message to the vast community. When people know that you are committed to building an accessible website for disabled people and supporting the cause, it works toward your brand building. It shows that you care for people with disabilities. This also pulls in favorable reviews for your business. You get recommendations as well that develop your business brand.
Boost SEO Metrics
Making your website accessible and compliant with WCAG can improve its score in SERPs (search engine result pages). An accessible website is comparatively favored by different search engines including Google than those sites that give users a tough time in navigation. This also drives a good amount of traffic to your website as well.
Adhering to WCAG makes your SEO (search engine optimization) better. A website with a clean interface and smooth navigation is helpful for individuals with different types of disabilities. This also reduces bounce rates, how?
Imagine that a person with a vision disability visits your website and fails to figure out the images (lack of Alt text) and what is it all about. He will shut the site and move to one that offers ease of understanding the images and content.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, one in every four adults in the United States of America is suffering from a type of disability. This means a substantial part of the country is suffering from some kind of impairment.
Imagine that a website has included elements (one of the guidelines of WCAG) like headers, footers, sidebars, etc. only in a single webpage. If a person with a disability navigates the site and wants to make a purchase but decides to do it later. When he opened the internet to make the purchase, he forgot the brand name as the headers, sidebars, or footers were missing on that particular page.
As a result, he searches for the product again and moves to your competitor. Therefore, make sure that your site is accessible and adheres to the guidelines of WCAG. This will increase your profits as people with disabilities can easily make a purchase from your site. This also helps you gain more customers through referrals and word of mouth.
User-friendly Web Experience
If you make sure that your site is easily accessible and all the images are properly tagged, this supports visitors with partial or complete vision or hearing impairment. They can easily navigate and understand your website hassle-freely. This improves the user experience of your website and helps you retain and engage them.
Reach Out to New Demographics
71% of disabled individuals shut down a website if they face difficulty in using it. Adhering to WCAG guidelines can help you prevent this situation as these gold standards can help you make highly accessible websites for people with disabilities. Catering to individuals with different impairments can help you reach to new demographic. This opens a new door for potential revenue as well.
If you make your website accessible to disabled people, it also contributes to loyalty towards your brand. On the flip side, if people face difficulty in navigating your website, you might lose them forever because nobody is going to come back to check on it. Therefore, an accessible website not only expands your new user base but also drives revenue for your company.
Concluding Thoughts on WCAG-Compliance
Web accessibility not only benefits individuals with disabilities but also works in your business’s favor. Making a site accessible boost brand image, improve usability, increase revenue, offer better rankings on search engines, and much more.
Conforming to WCAG standards make sure that your site is user-friendly and can be easily accessible by all types of users including individuals with disabilities. Your investment in web accessibility via making your site WCAG compliant can unlock doors of massive opportunities that lead to more sales. This also gives you a competitive advantage over competitors who are not accommodating this new demographic.
We hope that have a clear understanding of WCAG and reasons to conform to it. Please feel free to share your valuable feedback in the comment section. We would love to hear from you!