Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of recommendations that are given to make content more accessible across the web. The guidelines can be implemented by website owners to help make their website easier to read or see for visitors with disabilities.
WCAG also helps improve web content to make it usable for users in general.
WCAG compliance allows people with disabilities to be able to participate in the web in the same way that a person without a disability can. Compliance means that a website follows all of the recommendations set by WCAG so that a person with vision, hearing or another impairment can:
WCAG is not a legal requirement for all websites yet, but it is a legal requirement for all federal websites and federal contractors. ADA compliance, on the other hand, is a set of guidelines that must be followed under current legislation.
ADA compliance is a set of standards from the Department of Justice that is a legal requirement. WCAG provides guidelines that can be followed to allow for greater accessibility, while ADA compliance is a requirement under law.
ADA compliance states that a commercial or public entity must follow ADA guidelines in “places of public accommodation.”
The Internet is a place of public accommodation, but the guidelines have not been updated to state which procedures to follow to become ADA compliant as a website owner.
We recommend that businesses follow WCAG compliance guidelines because these are the guidelines that are currently being followed by the federal government.
Making your site WCAG compliant allows your business to be confident that viewers of all abilities can access your site. A proactive measure to meet ADA compliance, incorporating WCAG guidelines means that your business can:
When we’re tasked with making a company’s site WCAG compliant, we’re helping our clients reduce potential lawsuit risks, improve the customer experience and protect against legal changes to legislation regarding accessibility and business websites.
DIGICA follows WCAG compliance strictly, ensuring that a customer’s website adheres to recent WCAG guidelines. We first conduct a full audit of your site’s accessibility to assess which changes need to be made to make your site WCAG compliant.
Once we have fully assessed your site’s current state, we’ll start working through our WCAG 2.0 checklist to ensure that all compliance recommendations are implemented.
The changes will then be analyzed one last time so that our team is confident that your business’ website meets WCAG guidelines.
When your site is WCAG compliant, you can rest assured that your website is ADA compliant and protected against potential ADA lawsuits. The law and compliance recommendations should be monitored for changes periodically to ensure that your site remains compliant.
WCAG compliance is a widely respected set of guidelines, and the WCAG standards must be followed by all federal agencies. Contractors that work for federal agencies will have to follow WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
But these rules do not necessarily pass on to private businesses.
Websites must be accessible, but Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act mentions the federal government and not private businesses.
The law that small businesses would have to follow is the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). ADA Compliance means that a business cannot discriminate against people with disabilities in “places of public accommodation.”
Is a website a place of public accommodation?
The Department of Justice confirms that websites must be accessible, but wording within the ADA is from the 90s, so websites are not specified explicitly.
So, the DOJ does claim that websites do need to be ADA compliant, yet there are no specific standards that must be followed. Lawmakers are working to put guidelines in place for website accessibility compliance that may point to WCAG.
Businesses should act now to make their websites compliant to protect against future guideline changes. Websites will need to provide web content that can be used with assistive technologies. Criteria to follow includes a user interface that is able to be used with screen readers, persons with cognitive disabilities and users with visual impairment.
Web developers will need to follow a WCAG checklist to ensure web accessibility standards are followed.
Website compliance and website accessibility sound the same, but they are two elements that work together to ensure a site is ADA compliant.
Website compliance means that a site has followed accessibility guidelines to ensure that visitors with disabilities can access their site’s content.
Accessibility, on the other hand, is the practice of ensuring that a site is compliant. The accessibility part of the process may include techniques and practices that allow for a site to be easily accessed by someone that has a vision or hearing impairment.
For website compliance to exist, website accessibility guidelines must be followed.
Since the legal guidelines that exist today do not provide a clear definition of accessibility guidelines, it’s often recommended that websites follow WCAG 2.0 guidelines, which all federal agencies must follow.
If the guidelines are thorough enough for the federal government, they’re most likely thorough enough for private entities.
No. If the page was created before June 21, 2001, it does not need to be retrofitted. But if information technology and electronic technology is upgraded, the changes must comply with current standards.
Activists have made it their mission to file lawsuits against businesses that have websites that are not ADA compliant. In 2018, over 2,200 ADA website lawsuits were filed. A lot of lawyers urge their clients to settle.
ADA defense attorneys claim that their clients don’t realize they’re doing anything wrong with not making their websites ADA compliant.
Businesses often settle for compliance and attorney fees. Settling out of court is cheaper for many small business owners than allowing the case to go into litigation.
It’s cheaper, and doesn’t tarnish a company’s website to make a website accessible. Digital accessibility helps a user navigate a site through captions, audio descriptions, screen readers and other technologies.
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