Web Accessibility: What is WCAG?

A accessibility symbol on a keyboard.WCAG is short for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
These guidelines were developed through the W3C process with a goal of providing a shared standard for web accessibility that meets the needs for every individual, organization, and government. It covers a wide range of recommended web content to make it easier to browse the internet for people with disabilities. Its success criteria is written as a testable statement that isn’t technology-specific.

How to Use It

WCAG addresses the shortcomings by defining what “accessible” content is and presenting guidelines in a way that it can be easily understood and adapted to new technology.

For web content to be considered accessible, it must meet the four principles listed below:

  • Perceivable: users must be able to perceive the information and user interface elements that are displayed on a website. This often requires information to be presented in multiple formats. For example, images on a site must include alternate text for users with visual disabilities.
  • Operable: Users must be able to successfully navigate the content and be able to make use of all its features. For example, a user that can only browse the site with their keyboard must be able to navigate all fields without becoming “trapped” within one.
  • Understandable: users must be able to understand the information presented and the user interface components. For example, users with cognitive disorders should easily comperhend the information presented.
  • Robust: The content must be accessible by a wide variety of user agents, including browsers and special devices like screen readers. In addition, it must keep up with new technologies and new methods of access. For many users today, both disabled and non-disabled, this includes the shift from PCs to mobile devices.

These principles provide the guidelines that are in Web Content Accessibility. The guidelines are essentially the accessibility goals that lend to the criteria success;  improvement of accessibility.

How WCAG Impacts WordPress and Web Developers

WCAG is primarily intended for web content developers, web authoring tool developers, accessibility evaluation tool developers, and those who want or need accessibility guidelines to standardize their website. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines has priority checkpoints assigned by the Working Group for web developers to check the impact on user accessibility. In each checkpoint they either must, should, or may satisfy or address the checkpoint, otherwise one or more groups will find it difficult to access information. Satisfying the checkpoint improves access to Web documents. For WordPress, WCAG  relies heavily on theme authors and is recognized as on of the best CMS for web accessibility.

For more information on related articles and resources refer to the articles below:

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