What is Web Accessibility? pt. 1

Many people are asking,” What is Web Accessibility and why is it important to my business?” In simple terms web accessibility is ensuring your web site’s information and application services are accessible to everyone. Particularly those with disabilities and those who are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  

WCAG 2.0, also know as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines , was developed to establish a set of standards for web development. It is a series of guidelines for improving web accessibility for all people and is maintained by the Worldwide Web Consortium.  The guidelines were created  for web developers to use as a minimum benchmark or set of recommendations to create more accessible web content. As the internet becomes increasingly pervasive in our lives through IoT (Internet of Things) integrations and the use of multi-platform hardware devices the importance of making a businesses’ technical assets accessible is becoming critically important.

The Guidelines build from 4 Principles

Perceivable – ensures that information and user interface components and applications are                 presentable in a way that a user can perceive.

Operable – works to make sure the hardware and the software are working together to ensure the user is able to interact with content.

Understandable – dictates that both the user interface and the information being presented is able to be understood by the user.

Robust – The content meets recognized standards in such a way that it can consistently and reliably be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents and assistive technologies.

Priority Levels and Conformance Requirements

These four principles are then each broken down into three primary priority levels or conformance requirements (A, AA, AAA)

This is the point where “What is Web Accessibility” gets confusing to people. W3.org outlines the conformance requirements. It also includes supplemental information to help you understand the importance of this aspect of the standard. Simply stated, conformance means that you satisfy the requirements of the standard and when you increase the conformance priority level the web page meets all previous level requirements. As you increase the priority levels implementing each stage is met with increasing difficulty, so much so that W3.org specifically states the following:

Note 1: Although conformance can only be achieved at the stated levels, authors are encouraged to report (in their claim) any progress toward meeting success criteria from all levels beyond the achieved level of conformance.

Note 2: It is not recommended that Level AAA conformance be required as a general policy for entire sites because it is not possible to satisfy all Level AAA Success Criteria for some content.

AAA Level

Based on notes 1 & 2, not all content or application features will be capable of achieving AAA conformance because it simply may not be possible. As a general rule, your business should attempt to reach level A conformance at a minimum.  

In this article I addressed what WCGA 2.1 standard is and how it relates to your business. In part 2 of this article I will discuss the importance of WCGA 2.1 and why it is important for your business.


Content developed by Greg Tanacea, Chief Technology Officer.

Greg is a US Navy disabled veteran and a licensed teacher having completed the Special Education core studies and worked in the Dubuque, IA school systems. There he pioneered the districts co-teaching model to increase the inclusion of students with disabilities into the general classroom.