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The Americans with Disabilities Act requires businesses and property owners to install curb ramps following standard dimensions. Similarly, your website needs to conform to a set of guidelines for it to be fully accessible. These guidelines are known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Let’s have a quick look at WCAG, particularly its latest version (WCAG 2.1), and discuss why you need to take action on it as a website owner.
What’s in WCAG 2.1?
First issued in 2018, WCAG 2.1 builds on the second version of the guidelines issued in 2008 (WCAG 2.0). These guidelines are organized under four principles: websites must follow a set of criteria that indicate how perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust they are. These include the provision of text alternatives for non-text content, keyboard operability for websites, text readability, and interpretability by assistive technologies.
WCAG 2.1 takes this a step further by proposing accessibility guidelines for users with cognitive or learning disabilities, users with low vision, and mobile device users with disabilities. It does not replace WCAG 2.0; instead, it brings the 2008 guidelines up to date with users’ preferred internet access methods.
Internet access is a basic human right. It is where a significant percentage of the world’s population works, shops, and connects with others. No less than the United Nations has said that its member-states should promote the design, development, production, and distribution of accessible technologies, which includes accessible websites.
WCAG 2.1 forms part of the website accessibility guidelines for different countries. For example, the US Access Board uses several WCAG 2.0 criteria which also form part of WCAG 2.1. Since 2017, there has been a 50% increase in the number of website accessibility lawsuits related to ADA Title III filed in U.S. federal courts annually. Complying with WCAG 2.1 can help your business avoid these legal issues.
According to W3.org, companies that practice accessibility are also likely to be highly innovative. Companies like Apple and Google have added voice recognition and screen reading capabilities to their apps and hardware, and other large businesses have also increased their website accessibility.
However, your business doesn’t need to be big for its website to be accessible. In fact, accessibility might play a role in the growth of your business. For example, because Google considers accessibility as a ranking factor, making your website compliant with WCAG 2.1 might result in better search engine rankings. This leads to higher traffic and more potential customers and revenue.
Complying with WCAG 2.1 is often costly and time-consuming particularly when it requires massive changes to your website code. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend much time and effort to make your website compliant. UserWay’s AI-powered accessibility widget looks through your code, identifies sections that are not compliant with WCAG 2.1, and remediates those issues right away.