Your New Year’s Resolution for 2022: Accessibility Compliance

  • 7.01.2022
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In terms of business, the recent pandemic taught us one thing: the importance of accessible websites. COVID lockdowns and restrictions fuelled a massive prioritization of online commerce as businesses across every industry focused on improving their website’s usability, which in-turn brought the emergence of investing in the ADA website compliance tests.

On one hand, the numbers of digital accessibility lawsuits are increasing at a whopping rate, the accessibility surveys are showing the sad reality of the inaccessibility of the web for the disabled population. Recently, WebAIM conducted the accessibility analysis of the top 1,00,000 homepages and detected WCAG 2 failure in more than 97% of them. Having an inaccessible homepage makes your business exposed to legal recourse and it also increases the bounce rate because one in every four American adults is living with a disability. When a disabled person visits your website and finds it inaccessible, they hit the back button and start seeking out your  competitors. Rather than spending your resources on legal fees and settlement agreements, make a New Year’s Resolution and get started on ADA website testing.

Understanding the WCA2.0, 2.1 and 2.2 Criteria

The success criteria of WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) are the recommendations for adhering to ADA compliance. Using these standards, one can implement accessibility principles and steer clear of the risk of getting sued. Experts say that WCAG is not technology specific therefore techniques and failures mentioned in the success criteria are subject to change. Therefore ADA website tests should be done regularly to satisfy the ever-evolving criteria. With every update, the criteria for ADA compliance become even more stringent. Since WCAG 3.0 is still being formulated, companies are currently referring to WCAG 2.2 for the proposed accessibility development and testing. To be in a better place, it is suggested that companies should aim for WCAG 2.2 AA criteria. The conformance levels include A, AA and AAA, where the triple A compliant website has the highest accessibility score. In case a business or organization aims for optimal compliance level, i.e. AAA, it is believed to be ready to put in WCAG 3.0. Understanding what these levels indicate can help you to understand the conformance:

PERCEIVABLE

It means that web technology is easy to recognize either in visual or audio format to disabled users.

Success criteria:

Provide text alternatives, synchronized captions and additional information for any non-text content, such as images, tables, media etc.

Here achieving the level A compliance ensures that your website is minimally compliant and can be of use for those with visual disabilities. However, to stay protected against lawsuits, AAA level compliance is important, which implies that the visual presentation is sufficiently accessible by using the contrast ratio and media alternatives.

OPERABLE

It means that the navigation is not confusing and one can easily use the forms and control provided on the webpages.

Success Criteria:

Minimize the guesswork and enable the users to easily find how to navigate a website. Make the controls accessible through the keyboard or entirely through various other inputs.

Making the technology operable according to the A level compliance requires informative web pages. If there are carousels, providing an adequate time limit makes the page A level compliant. To attain AAA level operability, the key recommendations are total keyboard functionality, no data loss after the authentication session expires, and large-sized (44X44 pixels) clickable targets.

UNDERSTANDABLE

It means the content appearing on the web page is easy to read and easy to understand.

Success criteria:

Minimize the chances of errors or mistakes by making the operation predictable.

A and AA level compliance can be attained by providing a sufficient amount of clues, cues, and labels to instruct the users. Focused elements of a page should not be confusing to the users. Restrict the number of pop-up windows to create confusion. If a user is committing a mistake, there should be instructions to fix the error. In AAA level compliance, there should be an option to get cues while filling a form or disable the confusing pop-ups.

ROBUST

It ensures that a user can easily access the content displayed even with the use of assistive technologies.

Success criteria:

The guidelines required for a robust webpage include maximized compatibility with assistive technologies.

Minimizing errors and using ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) alerts helps achieve the compliance level.

Implementing the WCAG 2.2

The lower conformance rate to WCAG standards is the underlying reason for the surge in digital accessibility lawsuits. Whereas defending your business against serial litigants has also become an increasingly important priority. The idea is to attain a proactive strategy to address the problem areas. The recent accessibility reports suggest that more than 50% of webpages have empty links or empty input labels. Low contrast and missing alt-text from the images are the prime reasons for WCAG failure on most of the homepages. A quick solution to the problem is getting an ADA compliance website test. Software testing combined with thorough audits of the codes is helpful in making the necessary accommodations.

Aiming for accessibility compliance through software scans is a great way to get a head start. However, software reports are only 30% accurate and can leave plenty of barriers for the disabled users. Therefore, it is best method is to implement manual audits to identify the non-compliant issues. A qualified auditor helps in addressing the following pitfalls:

    • Inefficiency of assistive technologies, such as incompatible screen readers
    • Detection of problematic contrast ratio
    • Readability and operability accommodations for page headers and titles
    • Inefficiency in keyboard-only or mouse-only navigation
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    • Sitewide inspection addressing the desired level of WCAG 2.X standards

Final word

The web is moving toward being accessible – even Google has started penalizing the SEO rankings for some websites that are not sufficiently accessible. While the digital accessibility lawsuits are continuously rising, all sizes of business organizations must have a strategy in place to: a) prevent litigation, and b) create a fully accessible site.

Accessibility audits and software testing at a regular interval is the best bet to keep up the pace with the ever-evolving WCAG standards. While WCAG 3 is yet to be finalized, how about testing your business websites against the WCAG 2.2 accommodations? Click here to start the free websites ADA compliant test. To know more about the process of manual audits, feel free to get in touch with one of our accessibility specialists.

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