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When beginning your Digital Accessibility journey, the amount of information can be overwhelming. So let’s start with the basics, compliance standards and levels of compliance. 

Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG – pronounced wee-cag) is the worldwide best best practice for web accessibility. It is also the standard adopted by major international legislation including the United States’ Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the European Union’s European Accessibility Act  (EAA). WCAG provides a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3).The guidelines, or “success criteria” outlined within WCAG describe how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities.

Within WCAG there are three levels of compliance Levels A, AA, and AAA. As such, compliance is categorized into three levels in order to meet the needs of different groups and different situations. Level A is the minimum level. Level AA includes all Level A and AA requirements. Many organizations strive to meet Level AA. Level AAA includes all Level A, AA, and AAA requirements. Let’s dig a little deeper into each level.

Level A: Level A is considered the minimum level of compliance. At a high level, Level A compliance requirements prohibit elements that would make the website inaccessible for persons with disabilities. Essential Level AA requirements include: No keyboard traps; Navigable with a keyboard; Non-text content alternatives; Video captions; Meaning is not conveyed through shape, size, color etc. alone. Websites that do not meet at least Level A compliance can be extremely difficult for people with disabilities to use. 

Level AA: Level AA is the compliance level that most organizations strive to meet. By following Level AA success criteria, your website will be usable and understandable for the majority of people with or without disabilities. Essential Level A requirements include: Color contrast is, in most instances, at least 4.5:1; Alt text or a similar solution is used for images that convey meaning; Navigation elements are consistent throughout the site; Form fields have accurate labels; Status updates can be conveyed through a screen reader; Headings are used in logical order. 

Level AAA: Level AAA is the optimal compliance level which makes your site accessible to the maximum number of users, while making improvements to the user experience. Essential Level AAA requirements include: Sign language interpretation for audio or video content; Color contrast is at least 7:1 in most instances; Timing is not an essential part of any activity; Context-sensitive help is available. Although considered the optimal compliance level, it is cautioned that AAA may be difficult to achieve for an entire site, so you may want to focus on your audience’s specific needs for specific content. 

It is important to note that compliance at higher levels indicates compliance at lower levels. For example, by complying to AA, a web page meets both the A and AA compliance levels.

There are tools to help you support WCAG compliance such as AllAccessible. AllAccessible is the world’s most comprehensive web accessibility tool, and is compatible with all content management systems.

To learn more about AllAccessible and how it addresses WCAG A, AA, and AAA success criteria visit AllAccessible.org

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