WCAG (Web Consortium Accessibility Guidelines), were first published in late 2008. These are a revised set of guidelines from the original WCAG published guidelines and aim to address the issue of the rapid changes in technology by focusing on people instead of technology.
Were to start with WCAG2.0
The first thing to note is that they are guidelines not standards. So they are designed to help guide you and are not there to restrict you or be treated as tick boxes.
Where as W3C code standards are exactly that, standards, which should be followed to ensure future compatibility with web browsers. Failing to comply with W3C code standards is likely to result in incompatibility issues across old and new browsers a like.
Although within the UK public sector, it is a requirement that all web services meet the WCAG2.0 level AA guidelines as a minimum standard. This is a good level to aim for and is achievable, However, it may not address all accessibility issues that people may face.
Principles used in WCAG2.0
The WCAG2.0 guidelines use four principles, known as POUR (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust). Lets take a look at each of these in turn.
WCAG2.0 Perceivable principle
This principle is to ensure that people of all abilities can recognise and take in all the information given on your web page. Plus be able to make out the various sections and controls that they can use. So this will include the way you structure your content, the kind of controls you use as well as the colour and design.
WCAG2.0 operable principle
This principle is about how people use and interact with your website. People must be able to operate all controls on your web page, regardless of what device or assistive technology they may use. So this will include areas of device independence and an appreciation of assistive technology and the different ways people may interact with your website.
In today’s vast range of web enabled devices, it will include everything from touch screens, voice control, Braille or other specialised keyboard as well as your regular keyboard and mouse.
CAG2.0 Understandable principle
This principle is about making sure that your information and the way to use your website is easy and not beyond anyone’s ability. The article Accessibility, it’s in a KIS can help you with this principle.
WCAG2.0 Robust principle
This last principle is about future proofing by ensuring your website code conforms to coding standards and that it can work with assistive technologies. This will include things like cross browser support, mobile responsiveness and again device independence. It will also include code maintenance and removal of deprecated code as well as progressive enhancement or graceful degradation.