For many, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) can be confusing. Simply put, WCAG, which was revised in December 2008 and is now WCAG 2.0, is a set of guidelines that define the international standard for website accessibility. Click here for a link to a WCAG overview.
Click here for a link to a summary of the four WCAG 2.0 principles: perceivable, operative, understandable and robust. Any website that does not meet one of these guidelines is inaccessible to users with disabilities. There are three levels of conformance: A, AA and AAA, with A being the minimum level of conformance and AAA the maximum. Only Level AA conformance, not AAA, is required for websites. While websites should strive to meet Level AAA conformance, it may not be possible to satisfy all Level AAA criteria.
Why Is This Important?
Although people with disabilities use assistive devices, such as screen readers, to browse the web, web developers must consider accessibility when designing their websites so that everyone has equal access to Internet content. Screen readers cannot automatically describe pictures, nor can computer software automatically add accurate captions to multimedia. There must be a commitment on the part of the web developer to add accessibility features to the website.