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Understanding WCAG 2.1
What is WCAG 2.1?
WCAG 2.1 is the next level of WCAG, which stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Understanding WCAG2.1 and what it takes to reach compliance is key to building a more accessible website.
The more up-to-date standards contain 12 new guidelines that build on WCAG 2.0, from 2008. WCAG 2.1 addresses accessibility for people with disabilities who use assistive technologies such as screen readers, magnifiers, and voice recognition software. The new guidelines also address mobile accessibility and cognitive disabilities.
WCAG 2.1 was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international standards organisation that develops web standards. The WCAG working group, which is responsible for developing WCAG, is made up of experts from around the world who have expertise in accessibility, web design, and web development. The latest guidelines were released in June 2018.
WCAG 2.0 is still the most widely used version of WCAG, but WCAG 2.1 is gaining traction as more assistive technologies support it. WCAG 2.1 is also becoming the new standard for accessibility in many countries. For example, the European Union has adopted WCAG 2.1 as the basis for its new accessibility regulations.
WCAG 2.1 consists of three levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA. Level A is the minimum level of conformance, and Level AAA is the highest level of conformance. Most websites conform to Level AA or higher.
Table of contents:
What do I need to know?
Understanding the most important points of WCAG 2.1 is essential for anyone looking to create or improve upon an accessible website. Here are four key things to know:
1. WCAG 2.1 builds upon the success of WCAG 2.0
WCAG 2.0 was a widely-adopted set of guidelines for making web content accessible, and WCAG 2.1 builds upon that success by adding additional guidance for a number of accessibility issues. This includes support for new technologies, updated advice for existing technologies, and improved guidance on a number of key principles from WCAG 2.0.
2. WCAG 2.1 includes new success criteria
The updated guidelines include a number of new success criteria which address a variety of accessibility issues. These include guidance on providing text alternatives for non-text content, making content more accessible to people with low vision, and ensuring that content is keyboard accessible.
3. WCAG 2.1 is technology-neutral
One of the key principles of WCAG 2.1 is that it is technology-neutral. This means that the guidelines can be applied to any type of web content, regardless of the technology used to create it. This allows for greater flexibility in how web content can be made accessible, and makes it easier for developers to create accessible content using the technologies they are already familiar with.
4. WCAG 2.1 is an international standard
WCAG 2.1 is an international standard, which means that it has been endorsed by a number of organisations including the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This endorsement ensures that WCAG 2.1 is recognised as a global standard for web accessibility, and provides a common framework that can be used by organisations around the world to make their websites more accessible.
Understanding and implementing WCAG 2.1 is essential for anyone looking to create an accessible website. These four key points will help you begin in understanding the most important aspects of the guidelines.
Is it a legal requirement?
WCAG 2.1 is not a legal requirement, but it is the recommended standard for web accessibility. WCAG 2.0 is still the recognised standard for legal purposes. However, WCAG 2.1 provides updated guidance for achieving WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria and introduces new Success Criteria.
WCAG 2.1 covers a wide range of topics including mobile accessibility, people with low vision, and people with cognitive and learning disabilities. WCAG 2.1 is designed to be more easily understood and implemented than WCAG 2.0, making it a good choice for organisations that want to improve their web accessibility.
How can I make my website more compliant?
Making your website WCAG 2.1 compliant doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Here are a few tips to start you off:
1. Use clear and concise language
When writing content for your website, make sure it is clear and easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that might not be familiar to everyone.
2. Make sure text is legible
Make sure the text on your website is legible by using a font that is easy to read. You may also want to increase the size of the text to make it more accessible for people with vision impairments.
3. Use descriptive link text
When adding links to your website, use descriptive link text so that users will know where they are going to be taken. Avoid using vague link text such as “click here” or “more.”
4. Add alt text to images
If you have images on your website, make sure to add alt text so that users who are unable to see the images can still understand what they represent.
5. Use headings and lists
Organise your content using headings and lists so that it is easy for users to scan and find the information they are looking for.
By following these tips, you can make sure that your website is WCAG 2.1 compliant and more accessible for everyone.
Why might I bring in a professional?
There are many reasons why you might want to bring in a professional to help your website reach WCAG 2.1 conformance. One of the most important is that they can help you understand what WCAG 2.1 actually entails.
The WCAG 2.1 guidelines can be complex and difficult to understand, especially if you’re not familiar with web accessibility standards. A professional can explain the guidelines in plain language and help you figure out how to implement them on your website.
In addition, a professional can provide valuable insights into how best to make your website accessible. They can offer guidance on which features to include and how to design your site in a way that is both compliant and user-friendly.
Finally, a professional can also help you monitor your website’s compliance over time. They can perform regular audits and tests to ensure that your site continues to meet the WCAG 2.1 guidelines, and they can help you troubleshoot any issues that arise
Bringing in a professional to help with WCAG 2.1 compliance is an important step in ensuring that your website is accessible to everyone. With their expertise, you can make sure that your site meets all the requirements necessary for WCAG 2.1 conformance.